Archives for the month of: April, 2011

The retail landscape in Japan is full of stores selling eyewear – or megane めがね. The focus is not on sunglasses, which aren’t as widely worn by the Japanese as they are in many other countries; these stores prescribe contact and corrective eyeglass lenses and frames for the estimated 40 percent of the country’s population that needs some form of visual aid.

As with most things they work on, the Japanese have refined the science of the optics and made an art of the creation of frames to produce some very high quality eyeglasses. Customers have in turn transformed what was long considered a nerdy product into personal style statements and created a huge market that is serviced by a vast array of domestic and imported eyeglasses.

Mykita – meiji-jingu; Muji Megane – yurakucho; Blinc Aouama, Facial Index New York – Marunouchi.

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Tokyo is both a playground and pressure cooker: for the young students, creatives and tourists who explore its pleasures it’s a hyper-theme park, while for the perennially fatigued salarymen and women that help oil its economic wheels it is a stressful place. The city’s drinking holes straddle both worlds, providing social lubrication for the pleasure seekers and offering a release valve for the stressed workers.

O sake, お酒, or liquor, is a vital ingredient in Japanese culture and the country has some world standard beers, while quality whiskeys do a good trade here as do cocktails and the vodka-like shochu, a distilled spirit that has become a staple at drinking parties. Some of the best drinking, though, is to be had in Japan’s finest contribution to alcohol, nihonshu, 日本酒, – or saké as it’s commonly referred to abroad.

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The +J label was only introduced in the fall of 2009, but with the release of each collection it has increasingly grabbed the world’s fashion headlines and consumers’ imagination. The fashion line created by German designer Jil Sander for Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo empire won the Brit Insurance Fashion Award this year with its Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. In an era of fashion collaborations – some more than a little cynical – the +J concept is a perfect fashion fit.

All original images copyright Uniqlo Co Ltd : : Spring/SUmmer 2011: Women’s : double-collared shirt jacket, stand collar l/s dress shirt, V-neck 3/4 sleeve short cardigan; men’s : knit jacket, full zip hoodie, slim fit dobby l/s shirt.

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Japanese industry has taken a battering thanks to the events of March 11, but Japan’s industrial titans shouldn’t be wrtten off just yet. The mix of hard work, engineering prowess and creative ingenuity that has created some hugely successful products is bound to once again deliver game changing products. Continuing our series of design classics, this post looks at one of the all time great Japanese creations.

2008 was a landmark year for the video game industry: global sales topped those of movies for the first time. The same year, financial analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers – not known for hyperbole – predicted gaming would become a $68 billion business by 2012.

It’s probably not surprising to those of us living In today’s world, where 28% of us access the Internet, the PC and laptop have been joined by iPads, iPods and PSPs, smart phones and DS game consoles, Xboxes and PlayStations. Steam, FarmVille and Second Life host online communities and the profile of gamers has begun to mirror that of the community; but unlike Hollywood and the movie industry, electronic gaming as commercial entertainment only dates back to the 1970s and companies like America’s Atari Inc and Japan’s Nintendo.

Nintendo practically own the game industry: it dominates the top selling games charts and tops the best selling game hardware rankings with its Nintendo DS handheld console, while the device that arguably kick started the gaming revolution, the Game Boy still sits at number 3 on the worldwide sales charts and now resides in America’s National Toy Hall of Fame alongside Barbie, Lego, the Hula Hoop and roller-skates.

Original images Game Boy, Game Boy Color & Game Boy Logo : : copyright Nintendo Co Ltd.

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