2016-08-28

Lotteria Meat Day

For Lotteria the 29th is "Niku no Hi" 肉の日 or "Meat Day", because the number 29 can be read with the same pronunciation as meat "niku". For three days, the weekend plus the 29th, Lotteria is offering special versions of its premium burger, the zeppin burger 絶品バーガー or "masterpiece burger". The special versions consist of burger patties containing 1.5 percent more meat, double the amount of cheese (two slices of cheese made from Gouda and red cheddar), and extra chewy buns made with yeast cultured in rice malt 酒種. And for those who really need a meat rush, there is double patty version.
ロッテリア
https://www.lotteria.jp/campaign/000094/

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

2016-08-27

McDonald's McCafe Grape Smoothie



As part of McDonald's McCafe by Barista series, they are offering a "New Barista Summer 2016 Collection" which due to the oppressive Japanese summer heat consists of cold smoothie drinks. There is a mango smoothie, a fruit and vegetable smoothie and now a grape smoothie.

This smoothie contains grape puree, with added grape juice and is topped with whipped cream and whole grapes. This looks much more indulgent than the more healthy smoothies appearing in convenience stores recently.

It might be of some interest, that there are Chinese characters for grape 葡萄, which are used here. But since they are not part of the standard set and few Japanese can write them from memory, the pronunciation is given in furigana above the characters to make sure everyone realizes just what they product is.

While the volumes are not noted here, the medium size is 460 yen, but the large size is only 40 yen more or 500 yen. Usually the upsell on size garners more extra money.
http://www.mcdonalds.co.jp/campaign/barista/index.html
マックドナルド 葡萄のスムージー

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

2016-08-26

Inataya GeGeGe no Kitaro Shochu

GeGeGe no Kitaro is one of the most popular anime from Japan, just one of the many works that show the unique imagination and creativity of Japanese storytellers. I used to record and then watch GeGeGe no Kitaro religiously for many years after coming to Japan.

Last night at a company party, we went to Inataya 稲田屋 a restaurant affiliated with a Tottori Prefecture sake brewer Inata Honten 稲田本店. As the author of GeGeGe no Kitaro made his home in Tottori Prefecture, there is a Mizuki Shigeru Museum and Mizuki Shigeru Road lined with characters from this series there. Inata Honten is also based in Tottori Prefecture and they produce the GeGeGe no Kitaro shochu in the photo above. Shochu is an alcohol distilled from potatoes (in this case) or in other cases from rice, barley, etc.

I am adding a link to the Shigeru Mizuki 水木しげる Wikipedia page. If you want to read about an fascinating and praiseworthy life, have a look. From being conscripted in the Imperial army and being the lone survivor of his unit to peace activist and WWII documentarian, he was certainly much more than a talented anime writer and storyteller.

http://www.inata.co.jp/
http://inataya.co.jp/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeGeGe_no_Kitar%C5%8D
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shigeru_Mizuki

ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 焼酎 稲田屋 稲田本店 水木しげる

2016-08-25

Lotte No Think So Happy

Usually marketers want a clear, simple, easy to understand message to promote or support a product. Japanese marketers however sometimes go for a challenging message that includes wordplay. If the customer is patient enough to play along, it can work.

Loose translation of the copy:
"In a world of increasing entanglements, troubles and having to care for others, sometimes you just want to eat some ice cream. Emptying a package of Soh (after eating Soh), can also clear your head (of worries). No Think, Soh Happy"

Here it is in Japanese:
「NO THINK そーハッピー!
どうも。アイスです。最近、世の中つながりっぱなし。わずらわしいこと、気を遣うことが、増えてるような。そんな時代だからこそ、「アイスでもたーべよ。」みたいな時間って、意外といいんじゃない?と思うのです。爽がからっぽになる頃には、きっと、アタマもからっぽになっていますよ。
NO THINK そーハッピー。」


Points of explanation:
The product name is Soh and uses the Chinese character for "refreshing".
The "so happy" or "Soh happy" in the copy naturally connects to the product name.

To my mind, it sounds like a cross between two old popular songs "Don't worry, be happy" and "We don't need no education".

http://www.lotte.co.jp/products/brand/soh/
ロッテ アイス 爽

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

2016-08-24

KFC Japan - 100% Japanese Chicken



Two years the scandal two years ago where a Chinese company that KFC used as a supplier for chicken was found to be using expired meat, KFC Japan continues to advertise the exclusive use of Japanese chicken. This in-store poster promises 100% Japanese sourced chicken. ケンタッキーフライドチキン 国内産
http://www.kfc.co.jp

2016-08-23

Kanoya Probiotic Udon

Kanoya is a Gunma Prefecture based food company (founded 1885) which produces fresh (uncooked) noodles for use in the home. Unlike cup noodles which are now popular world-wide, prepared, uncooked noodles like this that require refrigerated shipping and have a relatively short shelf-life are the only way to prepare specialty noodle shop quality noodles at home. These are very popular in Japan, but not so much outside Japan due to logistical reasons.

However, this product drew my attention due to the functional food angle it is taking. They are adding a probiotic to udon noodles, so the proposition is great taste plus health. They have chosen Enterococcus faecalis bacteria due to its heat resistant properties, which makes sense because obviously noodles have to be boiled. It is also notable that they have added this to the noodle variety which requires the least boiling time, the Furusato Mizusawa brand ふる里水沢.

They promise a 40 trillion bacterial count per serving size, or 80 trillion per two serving package. I am assuming this is prior to preparation, because this is bound to decrease after boiling. They do not make a health claim on the package, but they do obliquely mention immune function on the website and point to an outside scientific website in Japanese set up to explain Enterococcus faecaliswhich features one of the world's most renowned scientists in this area - Prof. Tomotari Mitsuoka 光岡知足教授.

Overall, very interesting and I am eager to see if this approach works. I do have a small quibble. This site and many others use the term Lactic Acid Bacteria 乳酸菌 to refer to Enterococcus faecalis フェカリス菌 which is not technically correct. However, products including Bifidobacteria ビフィズス菌 do the same thing due to the high recognition value of "Lactic Acid Bacteria".
http://www.kano-ya.co.jp/
http://www.faecalis-kin.jp/

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

2016-08-22

Meiji Probiotic Yogurt Drink Lineup

This is some serious convenience store shelf space for one company's probiotic drink yogurts. Only the product on the left carries an approved health claim (FOSHU), the others contain probiotic strains that have been associated with health benefits, but no claims on the labels.

From left to right:
Meiji Bulgaria Drink Yogurt 明治ブルガリアヨーグルト (intestinal condition health claim)
Meiji PA-3 Drink Yogurt (strain associated with lower purine levels)
Meiji LG21 Drink Yogurt Low-Sugar Low-Calorie (strain associated with lower H. pylori levels)
Meiji LG21 Drink Yogurt (strain associated with lower H. pylori levels)
Meiji R-1 Drink Yogurt Low-Sugar Low-Calorie (strain associated with improved immune function)
Meiji R-1 Drink Yogurt (strain associated with improved immune function)
http://www.meiji.co.jp

2016-08-21

Takanashi Low Temp "Love and Care Method" Milk

Takanashi is selling a premium low temperature pasteurized milk. This milk is pasteurized at 66 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, as compared with the typical pasteurization conditions in Japan which are 130 degrees for 2 seconds. Lower temperature pasteurization is much more time consuming, thus the premium price, but there is a perceived taste difference by many consumers. The most prominent structural changes to the milk are denaturing of milk proteins.

But Takahanshi has expanded the concept and calls it the "Love Method" or the "Love and Care Method", which might be read "produced with love and care method".

There are 3 elements of the "Love and Care Method" are the following:
1) low temperature pasteurization,
2) UV light blocking packaging (to reduce light induced oxidation and related structural changes),
and
3) sourcing milk exclusively from Kuzumaki Town in Iwate Prefecture, where high-quality milk is consistently produced with love and care.
高橋乳業 葛巻町 岩手県 愛情製法 低温殺菌 遮光パッケージ
http://www.takanashi-milk.co.jp/

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

2016-08-20

Kikoman Soypresso Caramel Flavor



Selling soy based drinks is a natural for Kikkoman, the soy sauce company. They have a full line of soy drink (or "soy milk" although dairy people complain about that term) in a wide range of flavors. Yesterday in a convenience store I spotted this item and see that Kikkoman is getting into the high value chilled cup market, going up against the mostly coffee-milk offerings. The product is called Soypresso and the only flavor was caramel. Pricing is a tad higher than PB coffee-milk chilled cups, but far cheaper than the most expensive in class - Starbucks. The label notes that the coffee is specially selected by Kikkoman. Might cater to people who actively want to buy soy, but in the chilled cup market, taste is extremely important and that has always been a challenge for soy drinks. I tried this and it was not bad, but the soy flavor was masked with coffee and caramel flavor. 豆乳 キッコーマン
http://www.k-tounyu.jp/

2016-08-19

Suntory Internet of Things (IoT) equipped Vending Machines



Suntory Beverage has incorporated Bluetooth and IoT technology into some of its vending machines in order to allow customers to connect to a special app on their smartphones. When people buy healthy Suntory drinks from Suntory Green+ vending machines and connect to the Suntory Green+ app, they can accumulate points which can be used for future purchases of FOSHU drinks (that is drinks with approved health claims). The connection is via Bluetooth, but the technology is from a French company called SmartBeacon. The concept of all appliances around us connecting to the internet is coming fast and is called the Internet of Things (IoT). サントリー食品インターナショナル㈱ サントリーグリーンプラス 自動販売機
http://www.suntory.co.jp/

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.