7 Coolest Japanese Things You've Never Heard Of
There's more to Japan than you think!
The goodies from Japan are countless: cars, electronics, anime, horror movies and so on. Then there are the other things that are gobbled up by consumers all over the world. Folks don't know this stuff comes from Japan but know that it's clever, practical and useful. It's the secret stuff everybody sees but nobody thinks of.
I'm talking about the Japanese stuff people buy not because it's Japanese but because it's the perfect solution. These simple products go above and beyond. The customers are surprised and delighted--then they keep coming back. Before you know it you've got a global phenomenon.
So what are they? Don't worry, I won't let you miss the wave!
7. Kewpie Mayonnaise: for everything but your sandwich
Kewpie dolls are cute, naked cherub dolls popular all over the world. While the Kewpie craze is waning in the US, what keeps it alive in Japan is the only place you'll still see it: Kewpie Mayonnaise!
Mayonnaise is a force of food from the West Japan can't get enough of. Over the years, Japan has added its own twists and it's the Americans back home who can't get enough.
But mayonnaise is mayonnaise, right? Well... not exactly. There are a few things that make Japanese mayonnaise different from American. First it's thicker than mayo back home. Next, take a look below and you'll see that it's in a squeeze bottle. No need for a knife! Why haven't we caught on yet?!
Also Japanese mayo isn't used on sandwiches. It's used for salads (such as potato and tuna) and for many popular Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
6. Seki Edge Nail Clipper
I know what you're thinking: A fingernail clipper? Seriously? Wait! Hang on a second. Click on the product and read the reviews. They are long and full of loving, beautifully crafted prose. I've never seen so much joy pouring from the heart over a fingernail clipper. Neither have you.
The Nagel Knipser clips nails unlike any other. It will last forever and it even catches your nail clippings! Repeat: it catches your nail clippings! Ingenious! Clearly, this is for the few of us who don't relish the experience of watching our clippings fly all over the place just to get lost in the sea of carpeting below.
5. Pocky - a global phenomenon
You might have heard of this or at least seen it. If not, let me just say this: Pocky rocks. It's a convenient snack that tastes great. It's a kind of cracker, shaped like a thin pencil. About 80% of it is coated with chocolate.
Pick it up by its "handle" (the part that isn't covered in chocolate) and eat. It's too easy. So easy that people all over the world can't get enough. When I'm with at least two friends and one of us opens a box, it's gone before any one of us can name more than three flavors.
That's right. You don't think Glico (the company behind Pocky) would leave us only with chocolate, do you? While you may see only one or two in your lifetime, there are dozens of flavors. For those of us who's "gotta catch 'em all" we've got plenty to look forward to.
4. Panasonic Nose Hair Trimmer: Panasonic ER-GN30-K Vortex Wet/dry Nose and Facial Hair Trimmer, to be exact
People don't talk about nose hair and with good reason: it's not interesting. It's a conversation killer but stick with me here.
I don't know how you handle your nose hair (please don't tell us in the comments below) but for more and more people, Panasonic delivers a product that works. The Vortex lasts and will never, ever hurt. That's right, this gadget doesn't pull nose hair or rip human flesh. You can save those tears for the next Nicholas Sparks book.
3. Nissen Chicken Ramen - Nissin Demae Ramen, Artificial Chicken Flavor
I always thought ramen was the last option of subsistence. I always thought it was a quick fix for college kids. They grab a pack on their way out the door, eating without even cooking it. Maybe it is for many back home but in Japan it is far more different.
Ramen is a tradition. Tiny, quiet ramen shops dot the landscape, filled with customers of all ages. As a small business owner, each master works his trade his way. One genius is noticed and suddenly there are lines of people waiting hours (yes, hours) for the experience.
Then there are the factories that churn out the mass-produced stuff we know as instant ramen. Not a problem. Do some homework, find something you like and dig in.
One brand to consider is Nissen, particularly the chicken-flavored. People back home can't seem to get enough. Nissen is the first instant ramen ever created but its taste alone justifies its fame. For both reasons, people all over the world pay homage to the Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda, Japan.
Does Ikeda sound familiar? There's a festival and fireworks show during the summer.
2. Tea or Ocha
Tea ("Ocha" in Japanese) isn't always formal and traditional. In fact, my first experience with Japanese tea was disastrous and embarrassing. It's taste was a shock, very different from the high-fructose corn syrup that I was used to.
For a growing number of Americans, green tea is on fire! It's easy to see why. The taste is exotic and easy to get used to. Also green tea has many health benefits--too many to list here.
Ito En makes the most popular green tea in Japan that you'll find in a bottle--at a great price, too. I don't miss Ito En whenever I visit relatives back home but I must admit that there is nothing like this anywhere in the US.
1. Japanese TV
I almost didn't include Japanese TV in this article for two reasons: 1. I think everyone already knows about it and... 2. It becomes a stale circus that tunes people out to a special, amazing culture--the exact opposite of what I'm trying to do in these articles. But let me tell you: it is funny!
Most Japanese television is tame, like TV anywhere else. Then, sometimes there's the really zany, crazy, wacky stuff. It hits the air and a few minutes later it's all over the internets. People all over the world are gobbling it up. You can go on YouTube right now and you'll evaporate in front of your computer from addiction.