You may know that trends are a pretty big deal in Japan. Now that the year 2014 is winding down, Nikkei Trendy, published by a company owned by the Nikkei Keizai Shimbun (one of Japan’s major economic newspapers) has analyzed what exactly took Japan by storm. Here is the list in its entirety, counting down from 30 to the top hit of the year.
NISA stands for New Individual Savings Account. The concept originated in the United Kingdom and has recently become popular in Japan as it is now available at most banks.
29. Manga Box
Manga Box is a manga-reading app for both Android and iPhone devices that was released by DeNa at the end of 2013. The app is available in English, Japanese and Chinese.
28. Cup Noodle, Tom Yum flavor
The Cup Noodles company in Japan, as part of their “ethnic series,” released new noodle flavors based on Thai and Indonesian dishes. The Tom Yum noodles include a packet of tom yum paste that goes into the soup after you’ve let the noodles soften.
Wondercore is an sit-up machine that specifically targets the abs. It is also available for purchase in the U.S. and Canada, and it became a hit in Japan after the retailer Shop Japan made several commercials for it featuring a man falling down in random places onto a Wondercore. The jingle from the commercials will also get stuck in your head until the end of time.
26. Noodle makers
Noodle makers make fresh noodles so you don’t have to buy the hard ones from the store. You can make as many noodles as you want, from whatever you want, whenever you want. This is the appeal that made it such a big hit this year in Japan.
25. Kakuno fountain pens
Kakuno fountain pens are made by the popular brand Pilot and are meant for children and adults alike to promote good handwriting. They are advertised as being easy to use, including changing the ink. The catch phrase of the product is “writing will surely become fun.”
The FunLoom is a device meant for children where they can make bracelets, rings, necklaces, charms, etc. out of small silicone bands. The process is sort of like knitting, but with a plastic “loom” and a pick instead.
23. Monster Strike
Monster Strike (モンスターストライク Monsutā Sutoraiku) is a physics game with elements of RPGs and strategy games. It is developed by Mixi for the iOSand Android platforms. The game was co-created by Yoshiki Okamoto. In Japan, its name is often shortened to Monsuto (モンスト).
Monster Strike has been compared to competitor Puzzle & Dragons and other freemium puzzle games in that the player battles waves of monsters to collect them, fuse them, and evolve them and earn gold and other items through gameplay to get stronger monsters, and build a list of friends with monsters to use as well. What sets it apart is that rather than being a tile-matching video game, the player flicks their monsters around on a field, compared to both air hockey and marbles, bumping off of walls and enemies to perform damage.
22. Hustler (Suzuki car)
The Suzuki Hustler was awarded the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference of Japan (RJC) Car of the Year award for 2014-2o15. It is a compact SUV designed for practicality in a big city.
21. Asahi Super Dry “Dry Premium”
The “Dry Premium” version of Asahi Super Dry beer was released exclusively for the summer gift-giving holidays. It is Asahi’s first premium beer and has a much richer taste than the regular Super Dry.
The Miracurl is a hair curler that virtually requires no work whatsoever except for holding the device up to sections of your hair. Instead of having to wrap a strand of hair around a heated stick like regular curlers, the Miracurl basically sucks in your hair on its own, curls it magically in the rounded area of the curler, and produces the perfect ringlet or wave.
19. Frixion colored pencils
Another product from Pilot, the Frixion colored pencils have an eraser that actually erases what you’ve colored, unlike some other colored pencil erasers that don’t do anything.
18. Healsio “Ochapresso”
The brilliant Healsio Ocha Presso mills your own personal cup of tea that not only tastes great, it is actually healthier too. A teapot-brewed cup of tea may only retain around 30% of the nutrients from the tea leaves. The Healsio Ocha Presso, on the other hand, has been designed especially to give you all the natural goodness of tea, something like 1.9 times the catechin of tea from a teapot.
Featuring a built-in ceramic tea mortar, the Healsio Ocha Presso mills tea leaves into a powder, brewing you a fresh, strong cup of Japanese tea every time. The grinding is a mere 100rpm, so there is no fear of frictional heat and so you don’t lose the catechin, chlorophyll and dietary fibers in the leaves. In other words, modern convenience and traditional healthiness.
17. Rare sugar
A rare sugar is a sugar that occurs in very small quantities in nature. Typically they occur in amounts too small to allow for economic separation from their underlying natural source and are typically made through biological processes such as fermentation or enzyme conversion to create the identical compound.
Many have interesting characteristics such as having lower calories than traditional sugars such as sucrose, fructose, glucose, or lactose.
Rare sugar in Japan is sold as a sweetener and is also marketed as being used in certain soft drinks.
16. Seven Stars Train in Kyushu
The Seven Stars train is a luxury passenger rail that goes around Kyushu and stops at several sightseeing areas such as Oita. The train is very fancy and is a great experience if you have the money to spend on it.
For more information, see this article: Gorgeous Cruise Train in Japan – Fully Reserved Seven Stars!
Chromecast is a digital media player developed by Google. The device, a 2.83-inch (72 mm) HDMI dongle, plays audio/video content on a high-definition display by directly streaming it via Wi-Fi from the Internet or a local network. Users select the media to play using mobile apps and web apps that support the Google Cast technology. Alternatively, content can be mirrored from the Google Chrome web browser running on a personal computer, as well as from the screen of some Android devices.
14. Single-serving beef bowl hot pot
These dishes consist of a one-person helping of nabe, or hot pot (usually intended for more than one person) of beef on a special serving dish. It was created and is sold by Yoshinoya, a chain of beef bowl (shredded beef over rice) restaurants.
13. Dr. Air 3D Massage Sheet
The Dr. Air 3D Massage Sheet acts as a portable massage chair that both massages and vibrates. It can be taken anywhere and simply unfolds to fit onto a regular chair.
12. Smart Dry
The Smart Dry is a tool used especially for drying futons without having to bring them outside. Because dryers are not a common household item, and futons would be too large to fit in a standard-sized Japanese dryer, the Smart Dry acts as a portable and easy-to-use appliance for its size. It can also be used to dry laundry indoors.
11. Kinetic sand
Kinetic sand is a popular toy made from sand that is treated with a hydrophobic compound so that it can be easily packed into shapes when water is added. Without water, it is completely dry and leaves no mess behind.
10. Abeno Harukas
Abenobashi Terminal Building (阿部野橋ターミナルビル) is a multi-purpose commercial facility in Abenosuji Itchome, Abeno-ku, Osaka, Japan. It consists of the New Annex (新館) (main tenants: Osaka Abenobashi Station, Abeno Harukas Kintetsu Main Store Wing Building), Eastern Annex (東館) (Tennoji Miyako Hotel), and a 300 m (984 ft) tall skyscraper Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス). The reconstruction began in January 2010, and opened on March 7, 2014. The building is 300 meters tall and has 62 floors, making it the tallest building in Osaka, as well as the tallest building in Japan.
It is the planned alternative station building of Ōsaka Abenobashi Station, the terminal of Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line. Its floor space is around 100,000 square meters, making it the biggest department store in Japan. It contains the new Main Store of Kintetsu Department Store, Marriott Internationalhotel, and new headquarters office of Sharp Corporation.
9. Cheap smartphones
Cheap smartphones, or kakuyasu sumaho, are actually smartphones embedded with cheap SIM cards (that are official products, not bootlegged). The names are often interchangeable. The phones come with both voice calling and data, and you are able to enter into a contract, just like with a regular phone company – but the monthly charge with a cheap smartphone is almost half what you would be paying with those regular phone companies.
Cronuts are donuts made from croissants (hence their name in Japanese, “croissant donuts”). They have recently become a hit in Japan and the popular donut chain, Mr. Donut, has been selling a series of flavors.
7. TSUM TSUM
TSUM TSUM is an official LINE game made by Disney that works like other popular smartphone games – you have to match up the same character to “pop” them. TSUM TSUMs are actually the collection of round, large pill-shaped toys Disney makes out of their characters.
6. Iyemon Tokucha tea
We developed Iyemon Tokucha, a FOSHU (Food for Specified Health Uses) that helps reduce body fat, with a focus on creating the first FOSHU beverage that breaks down fat. In addition, Iyemon Tokucha uses Japanese tea leaves carefully selected by a “chasho” (master tea blender) from the venerable tea company Fukujuen in Kyoto. The beverage’s key feature is that consumers can enjoy it at work and in a variety of other settings outside of regular meals, and we have created a flavor that goes well with food and that you’ll never tire of drinking on a daily basis.
5. Ban roll-on deodorant
Stick deodorant is pretty rare in Japan, so Ban’s roll-on deodorant for women is something of a novelty. It is advertised as an antiperspirant, and also claims to be tough enough to withstand any part of your day, from morning til night.
4. Gel ball detergent
These small gel balls are filled with detergent and tossed in the washer for easy and convenient access. They are currently only available for two types of detergent but have become widely popular.
3. Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka opened in July and welcomed giant crowds for the next few months, with many still going to visit. The attraction is modeled like the same of its kind in Orlando, though the Japanese park has real owls and the Black Lake in front of Hogwarts.
2. Youkai Watch
Yo-Kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ Yōkai Wotchi, trademarked in Japan as Youkai Watch) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Level-5. The original game was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan on July 11, 2013, with a set of sequels, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Ganso and Honke, released on July 10, 2014. Two manga adaptations have been produced; a shōnen manga series that began serialization in Shogakukan’s CoroCoro Comic from 2012, and a shōjo manga series that began serialization in Shogakukan’s Ciao magazine from December 27, 2013. An anime television series produced by OLM, Inc. began airing in Japan from January 2014.
Frozen, or アナと雪の女王 (Ana to Yuki no Jou, Anna and the Snow Queen) was pretty popular in the United States and INSANELY popular in Japan. It is the third highest grossing film of all time in Japan and topped the box office charts for sixteen consecutive weeks. The song “Let it Go,” or “Let it Go ~ありのままで～ (Let it Go ~ari no mama de, As you Are~)” as it is known in Japan, has been playing so ubiquitously since the movie was released that it will be stuck in everyone’s head until the end of time.