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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thinking Japanese

In a recent column for the Financial Times, cultural observer Tyler Brûlé described five Japanese concepts that should be exported.

1. The ‘ice-type’ facial wipe
As the mercury creeps upwards with the arrival of summer, the “ice-type” facial wipe starts to appear in convenience stores and pharmacies across the country. Not to be confused with the basic face wipe, which simply cleanses, the menthol version is close to being an anaesthetic in tissue form and can instantly transform a sweaty, blushed complexion into a visage of chilly, collected calm. The best brand on the market is Osaka-based Mandom’s Gatsby range.

2. Muji – the real version

The Japanese retailer needs to stop watering down its international offer and deliver the same experience to shoppers in London and Paris that it does in Osaka and Tokyo. The world is waiting for Muji houses, a bigger bicycle range, restaurants and its Labo fashion collection.

3. Clever collaborations
Japanese consumers love a clever tie-up between established brands and smart creative talent. Good examples are retailer Beams doing a customised Subaru in hot orange and chocolate brown, or bagmaker Porter doing a “man bag” exclusively for ANA.

4. Travel etiquette
Japan could educate other countries in the fine art of getting passengers on to large and small aircraft without ever creating a queue in the boarding bridge. This is a facet of daily life that continues to amaze me and could save billions in delayed departure times and lost hours of productivity.

5. Bathroom culture
The Washlet (the automated, all- spraying, all-blow-drying, all-sound cancelling, all-deodorising toilet) is finally making inroads into new markets, but the world needs to embrace this concept faster. If it’s standard practice to wash your hands after going to bathroom, shouldn’t it also be part of the routine to wash the parts of your body that performed the function? Japan’s become so addicted that they’ll even feature on the two national carriers’ 787s when they eventually take to the skies.

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