Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Candy, Characters and Crossovers

Colorful and unique packaging is always the first thing that stands out in the Japanese candy aisle. Some may complain that there is too much, an overkill, upset that their newly purchased box of Deluxe Pocky has 4 plastic bags in it each containing 3 sticks. Sure the volume of product is sufficient but what is one going to do with all this plastic and cardboard, never mind the plastic bag the sales clerk gives you.

Well, sometimes we have a reason to keep the package. Every year some really fun and interesting collaborations form between entertainment and confectionery. The offspring are beautiful over-packaged delicacies that become great collectors items. Of course napaJapan carries some of these products too! They are linked to four Japanese entertainment aspects I will call The 4 Cs: The Cute, The Comics, The Celebrities, The Cyber-Games.

The Cute (Characters)
 Kabaya and Sanrio team up for a yummy strawberry pretzel treat!

Sanrio is the most well-known Japanese character brand around the world due in large part to Hello Kitty. This popular kitten defines cuteness. And since the rise of Hello Kitty in the 1970s a number of other hugely famous characters were etched into the minds of another generation. The most recent star is Rilakkuma by San-X (*thanks for the correction Kelly*). There is no escaping this new phenom as there are products galore in every shopping mall you visit.

The Comics (Manga)

Japan has one book store for every five people, or at least it seems. What isn't an exaggeration is that the Japanese LOVE to read, especially comics. There are stories for every age and every personality (which is kind of scary.) One thing that many of them have in common is recognizable branding found amongst the daily goods the characters enjoy consuming. Three very popular brands synonymous to manga are Pocky, Cup Noodle and Pocari Sweat. Try them for yourself and see if it gives you that animate feeling.

Cup Noodle (Japan Style!) Pocari Sweat Sports Drink Mix and new 2010 Pocky Crush 

The Celebrities

Quiz Time! What products do you think these people endorse(d)? Match to the pictures below and let me know your answers. Try not to use the web for help ;)

1> Tommy Lee Jones (actor)
2> Mao Asada (figure skater)
3> Gackt (singer)
4> Kiefer Sutherland (actor)

The Cyber-Games

Product placement in video games has become big business. Metal Gear Solid 4 introduced two Japanese products to the world: REGAIN Energy Drink & CALORIE MATE Energy Bars.
There have been numerous cross-promotion campaigns and collectors from around the globe contact us all the time for "Snake's energy supply."
I am still waiting for a Mario Bros. game to be released where Japanese Kit Kat bars are used instead of the blocks.
Kudos to my web designer for the cool video game (MGS4) effects on this REGAIN photo. Snake is in the house!

Keep your great product suggestions coming! We are always open to hearing what is hot on the other side of the world. We will do our best to give you the greatest selection of Japanese snacks online. Our product catalog is growing weekly so be sure to bookmark us or follow our RSS feed. 



  1. Actually Jason, Rilakkuma is San-x not Sanrio ;)

    I didn't know you sell cup noodle! Do you sell the curry flavour? I really want to get some for Yasu. :)

    I love all the cartoon foods, they really do make it more fun, I agree.

  2. I know one for sure and am reasonably certain about one other. The rest are guesses.

    1> Tommy Lee Jones - BOSS
    2> Mao Asada - Aero
    3> Gackt - e-ma
    4> Kiefer Sutherland - Calorie Mate
    5> Rie Miyazawa - Kit Kat

  3. Tasty Japan > thanks for that. My mind gets mixed up very easily when it comes to characters. I am learning about Tamagochi now. The kids are non-stop with it.

    Pough > I will not reveal your score here. Thanks for playing.

  4. btw pough, you were 100% correct!