Home > Focus on Japan 2012 > Recent Funny Stuff from Japan

Recent Funny Stuff from Japan

March 27th, 2012

The usual Engrish:


A dog harness, licensed by Disney no less:


A hub guard for bicycles:


We’ve had these diapers for a while:


However, I had never seen this brand before:


Is that like “Tosh.0”? Maybe the “N” is like n, a variable.

Out of the realm of language, I saw this recently:


In case you can’t make it out, that’s a crow’s nest–made almost entirely of clothes hangers. Talk about your city birds.

Finally, when we went to see War Horse, they were also showing Star Wars: Episode 1 (the 3-D version), and had loads of Star Wars gear. Aside from the R2D2 trash can (at more than $130, way too expensive), the only thing that appealed to me was, I thought, a very clever item: lightsaber chopsticks.


Each one was associated with a character, the handles modeled carefully after the ones in the movies. Note the handles on Dooku’s:


I was tempted to buy a pair, then I imagined how I’d look using them.

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  1. matthew
    March 28th, 2012 at 12:38 | #1

    Goo.n is a classic! It has been around for years. i am surprised you had not seen it before. Every trip to the kusuri I am usually greeted by a big pile of Goo.ns

  2. Troy
    March 30th, 2012 at 04:17 | #2

    Looking at Japanese demographics some more, thought this was interesting:

    2012 is a local maxima for the population of age 18 yos, 1.24M.

    2000 had 1.5M (1989-1992 were ~2M), but from here on out Japan is facing a gradual decline of those turning 18 each year.

    2013-2016 will be ~1.2M, but there will be 1.1M in 2023, 1M in 2031, 900k in 2035.

    This is assuming the current birthrate stays at it is, since the 2030’s 18 yos haven’t been born yet.

    Curious and complicated dynamic. I think Japan is the first to experience voluntary negative population growth (not due to famine or emigration).

  3. Matthew
    March 30th, 2012 at 10:01 | #3

    @Troy the thing that the demographics miss is the reality on the ground. I know several people who have been on waiting lists to get their kids into hoikuen or youchien. It was not any particular school it was a waiting list for any school in their area. (Chukogu region)

    That said, places like Shimane and Tottori are emptying out fast. Population and birth rates falling yearly.

    I am here for the long haul so demographics concern me but I would much rather be here than just about anywhere else.

  4. Troy
    March 30th, 2012 at 15:51 | #4

    yeah I ~think~ I’d rather be there, too. Not sure if I can survive w/o a Trader Joe’s nearby tho. Guess I could have somebody ship me a box of groceries every month, LOL.

    I certainly want to see the Chugoku region. Seems a bit different from the rest of Japan, kinda like Izu I guess (a bit more tropical?). Hagi looks especially nice.

    The nation may be depopulating but it’s going to be very uneven. Tokyo will probably still grow in population this century.

    I’m kinda optimistic about Japan’s demographics. Maybe fewer people will result in having more resources for everyone. Less need to build new stuff at least.

    The US is going to have 30M more retirees and also 10 million more schoolkids by 2030, while Japan is more like +7.5M more retirees and -7.5M schoolkids.

    Each retiree is going to cost $40,000/yr and each schoolkid $10,000. That’s over $1.2T in additional expenses in 18 years, and we’re already running $1.2T/yr deficits already.

    I’m supposed to retire by 2030 but the way things are going I don’t think the US is going to be all that functional by then. To become functional is going to require major reforms plus also major tax rises, something we last did in 1991-93 but seem unwilling to go back to.

    I’d like to stay in California but I think the state is just as screwed up fiscally as the nation, for basically the same reasons.

    Japan may or may not have a smoother transition into a senior society. Japan’s current politics are still pretty opaque to me but I’m starting to follow along again on the blogs.

    I have no idea what’s going on really, but at the end of the day it’s the US that owes Japan $1.1T and not the other way around and I think that’s most significant. $1.1T might not sound like much but it is $9000 per every Japanese person in savings (assuming the US ever allows holders to monetize their treasuries . . .)

    Factoring in Japan’s total foreign holdings, you guys have overall around $3T in assets socked away overseas, the top creditor nation in the world.

    Japan Inc did very well for itself 1965-1985 and the nation has been cruising on that colossal industrial success ever since. How it can defend its position from ROK and PRC is another mystery.

  5. Matthew
    March 31st, 2012 at 01:35 | #5

    Thanks for the stats. You always post interesting points and the numbers to help measure them up.

    Hagi is nice to visit as a tourist but you want to stay away from the San-in area. Too dark, literally. The weather around this part of the Nihon- Kai is cloudy, windy, cold and dark most of the year. Summers are nice but bloody hot. All that wind disappears in the summer.

    The more I read about the USA the more I am very happy in my small corner of Japan. To be honest, I hardly recognize the USA anymore. To me it is a foreign county where people speak English. Not a place I consider home. Come on over to Japan. I could help arrange a work visa for you.

  6. Troy
    March 31st, 2012 at 03:32 | #6

    Come on over to Japan. I could help arrange a work visa for you.

    I’ve gotta take care of my mom for the time being but I am preparing my life to make that jump again.

    Going over as a 25 yo in 1992 was probably easier compared to a ~50 yo down the road, but I’ll have global self-employment income (“App Stores” ftw) to support me at least.

    How long have you been in Japan?

    The Friday after the Rodney King riots I went to LA’s Federal Building to get my passport (classes were cancelled that day). I think the US is going to see those pressures return — the 1990s prosperity and the follow-on housing bubble gave us some breathing room, but in many ways those two dynamics have made the situation a lot worse for the US down the road.


    is one story.



    doesn’t look that bad but as a percentage of total workers:


    you can see how it’s declining too.

    The US’s problem is that it’s got 150M workers and not 150M jobs for them, and we’re using deficit spending and trade deficits to pretend that things are OK.

    We ~could~ raise taxes, but that would slaughter home values and that would cause our financial system to collapse again, since we still have $10T borrowed against our homes:


    Now, I don’t have the first clue how Japan’s predicament compares to the US’s. And, politically, I don’t know which nation is more dysfunctional.

  7. Troy
    March 31st, 2012 at 06:44 | #7

    here’s another funny (?) demographic calculation, Japanese women in my notional target age group (from half my age + 7 to plus another 5 years).

    I chose a good time to go Japan — this figure peaked in the mid-1990s at ~6M women in that cohort.

    But now there’s only 4.8M! D’oh! That’s a 20% decline!

    And they’ll be down to 75% of peak supply by 2017!

    I better hurry! Japan’s running out of women!

    However, widening the window to 10 years instead of a 5-range and the number only declines 5% since the mid-1990s, from 10.5M to 9.8M.

  8. matthew
    March 31st, 2012 at 17:59 | #8

    Sorry to Luis for highjacking this thread LOL.

    For me 18 years this November.

    I follow the economics and politics of japan but much less than I used to. Plus I have not naturalized so I don’t have a vote.

    If i remember the timing, I think it was around 1999 –2001. At least in my area, that was the nadir. I knew several people that saw their bi-annual bonuses axed in huge amounts. Some top management people I know had at least one of their bonuses cut completely. It was a dark time for sure.

    Now my local economy seems much more stable and realistic. We saw a lot of business close but many new ones start up. My girlfriend started a new job two years ago. She went to Hello Work, got several listings and got a job the next day. (She works for a company that makes seat belts and airbags for cars.) They are expanding. And she gets a very middle class income for a single woman.

    Shopping malls are filled on weekends. My friend just opened his second car detailing business. I just bought new carpet and awning for my business, and gave all my staff a raise.

    Add the cheap healthcare, amazing food, friendly people, and gorgeous slender women who know how to dress fashionably, and you have Japan.

  9. Troy
    April 1st, 2012 at 10:42 | #9

    >and gorgeous slender women

    you had me at hello!

    I guess the regional centers like where you are (?) are still gathering their economies together.

    One headwind I do see is the higher individual tax burden coming. The proposed doubling of the consumption tax is just the first forerunner of much higher tax levels on everyone — raises that are going to be necessary to convert the nation’s one quadrillion yen national debt into the cash its holders need to retire on 2020-2050.

    Japan losing the use of its 50+ nuclear reactors this year is also going to be a substantial loss of wealth — the nation can may be able to economize and cut usage 30%, but its energy imports are going to be an increasing burden as fossil fuels continue to get more expensive. The plan this decade was to actually add nuclear capacity to mitigate this wealth loss, but now it’s got to invest in alternatives to just get back to where it was prior to 3/11.

    But the good thing about an aging and declining population is less national energy usage.

  10. Matthew
    April 1st, 2012 at 21:55 | #10

    I agree that taxes are going to go up. My hope is they stagger it over a few years. A one time doubling seems sheer stupidity. They should have bumped it one or two percent 5 years ago.

    As for the nuke plants. No way they are disappearing. They will do a dance and try to make people feel safer and perhaps they will indeed make safee plants. But they will be back online in the future. IMHO.

  11. Troy
    April 2nd, 2012 at 07:43 | #11

    From some news article:

    “If all reactors are closed this summer, peak oil consumption by Japanese power generators this summer could reach 1 million barrels per day, or four times the level posted in 2010”

    So .75mbpd increase is around $75M a day more in import costs, $27B for the year, or ~¥2 trillion yen. ¥2T is about what is expected to be collected from each 1 percentage point rise in the consumption tax.

    Japan is also importing an additional ~20 million mt of LNG per year, which my calculations say costs around $13B, pushing the added import cost of the Fukushima disaster to $40B/yr, or about $400/yr per capita.

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