Gakuranman has translated into English a report published every year by the magazine Trendy which ranks the products and trends that conquered Japan during the year. Moreover it tries to predict what will be trendy in the coming year; however it usually fails when trying to forecast the future.
This is the ranking of what has been cool in Japan during 2011:
2011 was the first year in which more smartphones were sold than “traditional” Japanese cell phones known as “keitai”. Among the top 10 phones sold in the year, 6 are smartphones, most of them using Android, although the most popular have been the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.
I also let myself follow the smartphone trend and changed my old Panasonic keitai for an iPhone 4 at the beginning of the year. What I like the most about my iPhone 4 is its camera.
If 2010 was the year of Twitter, 2011 has been the year of Facebook, which has become popular after establishing offices in Tokyo and launching a Japanese version for keitais. However it is still a second tier social network but it’s growing now faster than Mixi and Twitter.
3.- Energy-saving fans
One of the great problems after the earthquake disaster in Tohoku has been to ensure electricity supply during Summer to all prefectures that depended on the power previously provided by Fukushima. Many campaigns were run to make the population aware of using air conditioning the minimum possible. One of the products that benefited indirectly were fans, specially those positioned in the market as “low consumption”/”energy-saving”.
Michi and Mika gave me this fabulous USB fan as a gift.
4.- Sanyo GOPAN Bread Maker – GOPAN
This new device designed by Sanyo is able to make bread using rice. Several work colleagues have bought it and they say that the bread is pretty decent. In almost every Japanese house we have a suihanki 炊飯器 to cook rice, this new Sanyo product has been well placed in the marketplace as a new indispensable kitchen gadget. It was released last April and more than 200,000 units have been sold.
5.- Nissin Cup Noodle Rice
Nissin, the largest Cup Noodles producer in the world released to the market rice cups that can be cooked any time using a microwaves. This year the ready-made food market has doubled compared to last year, most likely as a consequence of the earthquake, which changed the lifestyle and culinary habits during the months after the disaster throughout the most affected areas.
6.- Daihatsu Mira E:S and Mazda Demio 13 Sky Active
It’s the first time I hear about these cars. It seems they are very cheap (under 10,000 euro/ 13,000 dollars) and consume around 3 liters per 100km.
7.- Makkori Rice Wine
Makkori is Korean rice liquor. I don’t know why but suddenly Suntory decided to release a new makkori brand and advertised it so much that the imports of makkori from South Korea doubled with respect to 2010. Until this year I had never seen makkori on sale in any supermarket, only in Korean restaurants.
8.- Willcom – Call anyone flat rate
Willcom, the fourth cell phone carrier in Japan offers a flat rate for calls for only 980 yen per month (around 10 euro / 13 dollars). The truth is I don’t know why this shows up in this ranking when Willcom is the carrier which is highly likely to disappear from the map in the coming future.
Since I arrived to Japan I use “Bufferin” as an Aspirin substitute. Of course, there are also Aspirins in Japan but they are quite expensive and I think there are still no “generic” Aspirins. I remember that one day in which I had a terrible headache at work, I asked for one to Yamazaki, a girl which keeps at her desk a drawer full of medicines. However she didn’t have it and gave me “Loxonin”. She told me that I still couldn’t get it without a prescription but soon it would be possible. 20 minutes after taking Loxonin I felt like jumping and going out jogging.
If you are interested, they are on sale in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and India under different names. The main component of the pills is Loxoprofen.
10.- Kamen Riders transformation belt
The star product of the year for kids in Japan. It is some kind of belt that can hold Kamen Rider cards that you can buy separately and according to the cards you insert it reproduces music and different sounds.