Tombow Kanazawa Curry Cola

There is an ongoing local gourmet food craze in Japan. One of the popular local dishes is Kanazawa Curry. Tombow Beverage of Toyama Prefecture has taken this one step further by introducing a Kanazawa Curry flavored cola. Not available in my area - maybe that is just as well.
トンボ飲料 金沢カレー コーラ

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Burger King Chicken Fries

Burger King Japan has added Chicken Fries to its lineup, which are described as crispy and convenient to handle with an excellent balance of herbs and spices. These come with a choice of BBQ or honey-mustard sauces. The website offers a download so that you can decorate the chicken face on the package to look like various characters: Kabuki, Shogun, Ninja, Sumo and Manga. Some boxes also carry the slogan "Unleash the Chicken".
バーガーキング 日本 チキンフライ

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KFC Salty Lime Chicken

As a variation on their boneless chicken, KFC now has a salty lime offering. There is not all that much added information, but a refreshing taste is followed by a spicy aftertaste, which appears to explain the lime, salt and pepper in the photo. ケンタッキーフライドチキン ソルティライムチキン

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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.

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


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.
マックドナルド 葡萄のスムージー

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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.


ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 焼酎 稲田屋 稲田本店 水木しげる


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!
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".

ロッテ アイス 爽

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


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


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".

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


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)


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),
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

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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


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

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


MOS Burger Summer Specials

MOS Burger is the premium burger chain where you wait a little longer and pay a little more, but the burgers are as good as they look in photos like this. There are two special burgers this summer, a new BBQ MOS burger (tomato, special smokey sauce, onion, mayo, and American mustard) and a return of the Rich MOS Cheese Burger with Gorgonzola Sauce (tomato, mayo, cheese slice, American mustard, onion, and meat sauce). モスバーガー リッチモスチーズバーガー ゴルゴンゾーラチーズソース バーベキューモスバーガー 野菜と果実の特製ソース

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


Pronto itt Juice

 The coffee shop chain Pronto has collaborated with the Spanish company AMC Juices, using their ITT technology, to develop three 100% chilled fruit-vegetable juices. ITT stands for Instant Treatment Technology and shortens the standard heat treatment time for juices to only 1/7th the time it used to take, preserving a better fresh taste. The products are called itt Juices and the attributes are summarized as "100% Straight Juice + Super Fruits & Veggie + ITT".The super fruits used in the three varieties are kale, pomegranate and acerola. itt Juices are available at all Pronto stores nationwide. プロント イットジュース

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CGC Hokkaido Milk

CGC is an alliance of smaller grocers for volume purchases and private brands. This CGC private brand milk advertises the milk as being from Hokkaido which is the most famous dairy area in Japan. Interestingly, the back of the package shows that the milk was processed by the Gunma Prefecture farm cooperative 群馬牛乳協業組合. Nothing wrong with that, but I thought their reason for existence was to process and promote local milk, whereas in this case the virtues of milk from Hokkaido are being touted. CGC牛乳 北海道産


Toyo Beverage Chilled Cup Coffees

Spotted these new chilled coffees from Toyo Beverage in a convenience store. Very attractive packaging, but lined up next to one another the explanation on the packaging can be a tad confusing. The Cafe au Lait on the left notes use of 100% open fire roasted arabica beans. The arabica beans are an Ethiopian mocha blend. In this case, "mocha" is used to refer to the bean variety.

On the right is a Cafe Mocha which uses Italian couverture chocolate. In this case, the "mocha" refers to coffee variety that includes chocolate and milk. The labeling is not a mistake, but it assumes a decent amount of knowledge on the part of the consumer, or else it assumes that most people just look at the illustrations.
トーヨービバレッジ カフェオレ カフェモカ クーベルチュール・チョコレート 直火焙煎


Sapporo The Hokkaido Beer

Sapporo is offering a limited edition of its flagship beer brand Sapporo Black Label, called The Hokkaido. This is only available in Hokkaido and uses Hokkaido barley and hops. The hops comes from the Furano area, and the barley comes from both the Furano and the Okhotsk areas of Hokkaido. Some might be confused by Okhotsk, because that is the name of the sea north of Hokkaido as well as a Russian coastal city. This Okhotsk referred to here is a northern sub-prefecture (Hokkaido is one big prefecture). For disambiguation, I have added links to the Wikipedia pages for Okhotsk and Furano below.
サッポロビール オホーツク 富良野 北海道 大麦 ホップ

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McDonalds Certain Victory Pineapple/Beef & Tomato/Chicken Burgers

 In honor of the Olympics in Rio, McDonald's is running a number of specials. The most prominent are the "certain victory"burgers. Certain Victory is a rough translation of the the Japanese 必勝 on the bandanas you might have seen fans wearing at sporting events. The meaning of this would also encompass "victory or bust", etc.

These two sandwiches were developed with the Olympics in mind. The pineapple of the pineapple/beef burger represents a gold medal, and the tomato of the tomato/chicken sandwich represents the rising sun of the rising sun flag. マックドナルド 必勝

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Haagen-Dazs Green Tea Crumble

The premium ice cream bars from Haagen-Dazs are called crunchy crunch, and there is a new item that provides a triple blast of matcha or green tea. Matcha Crumble consists of green tea ice cream containing green tea cookie pieces covered with green tea chocolate. I must say, the food photography and layout here is pretty impressive. So if you are serious about premium ice cream and matcha, this might be worth an indulgent moment. 抹茶クランブル ハーゲンダッツ

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Yamazaki Otaru Ankake Yakisoba Lunch Pack

In Yamazaki's Lunch Pack series, they now have an offering based on Otaru Ankake Yakisoba 小樽あんかけ焼そば, which is a local specialty of the Hokkaido port city Otaru. Ankake yakisoba is buckwheat noodle based chow mien noodles with a starch based topping. It is considered a "soul food" of the area and there is an organization called the Otaru Ankake Yakisoba Shineitai 小樽あんかけ焼そば親衛隊 organized to protect and promote this dish. It is this organization that collaborated with Yamazaki on the development of this product. Comments on the website complement the authentic sauce. From what I can tell, there are many varities of this specialty, but the defining element appears to be the use of local seafood. ヤマザキ ランチパック


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KFC Obon Barrel

For me, this appears to be where an interesting example of where a quintessentially American-type special comes into contact with a traditional Japanese holiday. Obon is the annual holiday where the souls of anecters return and families usually get together. KFC is offering an Obon barrel to cater to this family occasion. This ad also emphasizes that the chicken is all locally produced. お盆バーレル ケンタッキーフライドチキン

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Japan Communist Party Anti-TPP Poster

Japanese farmers, just as the majority of farmers in all developed countries, are protected government measures. These are threatened by the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that would lower tariffs in the wider Pacific/North America area. The Japanese Communist Party is vocally taking the side of farmers. Here is a typical poster which reads "Lies and cheating . . . firmly opposed to TPP".


Wendy's Summer Specials

The summer special burgers at Wendy's are two "Asian Taste Pretzel Burgers": the Pretzel Spicy Korean BBQ Beef Burger (with a special pepper sauce) and the Pretzel Cilantro Avocado Burger (with coriander and sweet chili sauce). Wendy's is down to one location and two collaboration stores (with First Kitchen) all in central Tokyo. They have had some interesting ideas in recent years, so if you want to support this chain, now might be the time. ウェンディーズ 辛カルビバーガー パクチーアボカドバーガー

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KitKat Kumamon Kumamoto Green Tea

KitKat has introduced a green tea with bitter chocolate variety exclusively in Kyushu and Okinawa. It carries the popular Kumamon character, which is only allowed when the product contains Kumamoto Prefecture sourced ingredients. In this case the green tea is from Kumamoto. This character and Kumamoto in general have been in the hearts and minds of Japanese since the devistating earthquake in April. Buying Kumamon branded products has become one way to support the people and economy of Kumamoto. Kumamon site here. くまモン キットカット くまもと茶

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Morinaga Aloe Sterol Beauty Yogurt

"An old man has started to live on my face" complains a young beautiful model. Another caption reads "No! to old man skin!" Clearly, a scary prospect for young women.

One of Morinaga's major functional yogurt is Aloe Yogurt which is a long time popular brand, claiming data associating this yogurt with blood cholesterol levels and weight loss.

Now new research has identified the 5 active aloe sterols here, and a new patent covers the activity of these sterols on stimulating fibroblasts in the skin to produce more collagen - thus the connection with younger skin and beauty. The product name Aloeste アロエステ combines Aloe with Esthetic アロエ and エステティック.

森永 ヨーグルト アロエステ

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Glico JA Milk - Saga Prefecture Milk

One of Glico's milk brands sources high quality Saga Prefecture milk through JA (also called Zen-Noh or  The  National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations). By the way, there is no longer a separate Glico Dairy website, Glico food products (chocolates, dairy, snacks, etc.) are now listed together even though they are made by separate subsidiaries.
グリコ JA牛乳

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Haagen-Dazs Macadamia Nut

Although this item has a 20 year history, it was renewed this year to improve the crunch and texture by using a mixture of both larger and more finely ground macadamia nut chunks to go with the rich butterscotch ice cream. バタースカッチアイスクリームとマカデミアナッツ ハーゲンダッツ

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Meiji Sponsorship of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Meiji starts promoting its sponsorship (gold partner, dairy and confectionary) of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 via a splash page on its website. 明治 東京オリンピック

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