Japan’s Most Trendy Products of 2012

Nikkei Trendy Magazine’s annual list of the 30 most popular products and hits of 2012 is out this December. There have been a lot of exciting new products and services coming out this year and we saw obvious selections as well as surprising ones. Here are 10 of our favorites marked with the number they came up on the list:

#1. Tokyo Sky Tree

image via NBC World News

Tokyo Skytree in Eastern Tokyo, the world’s second tallest tower at 634 m (2,080 ft), marks its first half-year anniversary with a 27.92 million visitor count since its opening in May. One of the goals of Tokyo Skytree is to bring more people over to Eastern Tokyo and a walking tour of the town around the Skytree that has attracted many participants exposed many to the area’s old downtown charm.Though it acts mainly as a broadcasting tower, the Skytree also offers an aquarium, art exhibits, many restuarants and shops inside the tower for visitors to enjoy.

#2. LINE

image via SiamMac.com

LINE is one of the fastest growing instant messaging application that allow users to send each other unlimited text messages, images, video, audio media messages and make free VoIP calls for free. Much of its popularity is due to its huge arsenal of cute original LINE stickers (imaged above0 in addition to emoticons that makes it stand out from other messaging applications. The speed of initial user growth is 3 times that of Facebook with the app’s user count climbing to 40 million within a year of its release and now at 60 million, only a year and a half later.

#3. Domestic Low-Cost Carriers

image via blog site

To boost traveling and to address the different needs of today’s traveler’s, low-cost carriers Peach Aviation,  Jet Star Japan, and Air Asia Japan are now offering domestic flights 50% to 70% cheaper than major airlines. Costs are dramatically cut by reducing services, such as checked baggage services, providing less leg room, no in-flights meals, etc. Boarding bridges are also eliminated to cut costs.

#4. Maruchan Seimen

While instant noodles has been around for a long time and packaged ramen sales have been decreasing in the recent years, Maruchan repackaged and improved the quality and taste of their noodles and soup in their Maruchan Seimen product line. A huge success,  Maruchan Seimen sales to take up over 10% of the packaged noodle market.

#7. Touch Detective Funghi Gardening Kit

Funghi Paradise is a smartphone game application, where a rookie detective and her assistant, Funghi, who happens to be a mushroom, set out to solve odd cases in a mysterious town. Due to the Funghi’s popularity, the cute mushroom detective assistant earned its own spinoff app called the “Touch Detective Garden.” The user can cultivate their very own mushroom garden with over 30 types of mushrooms! The spinoff application is free, but Funghi Paradise sells over 2,000 types of goods in 50 stores. Goods events were also consistently popular with up to 90-minute queues and products sold out in convenience stores extremely quickly.

#9. Machi-Kon

image via blog

Machi-Kon are speed dating events where participants pay a fixed fee for all-you-can-eat at various establishments all over a certain area. About to 1,500 Machi-kon events is estimated to be held by the end of this year, which would be 10 times the number of these events in the previous year. These events are meant to not only help relieve the startling number of singles in Japan, but also to revitalize local neighborhoods where business had been declining severely in the recent years.

#15. Convenience Store Japanese Sweets

images via blog site; Lawson

Small, yet richly flavored convenience store sweets have been a popular hit this year. Lawson, a convenience store chain, following the huge success of 100 million in sales of their Premium Roll Cake in 19 months in 2009, rolled out with more and more sweets under their own brand. This year this released another hit product, their Pure Raw Cream Daifuku (picture top left), that reach 9 million in sales in six months.  Japanese style sweets as well as Western style sweets are all selling quite well in Lawson, 7/11 and Family Mart convenience stores. I personally eat at least one of these convenience store sweets a day.

#22. Tattoo Stockings


images via TutuannaAmazon

Black tights or stockings have been the standard for a while, but now there is new way of expressing yourself that hasn’t been touched upon before. An interesting craze with tattoo stockings has started with young girls this year. Many of them are now sporting nude stockings that makes it look like they have tattoos on their legs at first glance. About 480,000 pairs of these were sold in the past year, and they can be seen covering the legs of many girls in the streets of Tokyo.

#23. Metallic Nano-Puzzles
image via miffy.burian’s blog

These metallic nano-puzzles, designed to be quick and easy for the hectic lifestyle of the current generation. Costing a few hundred yen depending on the puzzle, and featuring 20 different designs including the Tokyo Tower, the Eiffel Tower, a satellite or a boat, they can be solved within an hour to a couple of hours depending on the user’s experience. 500,000 of these puzzles were sold in toy shops, as well as markets, and proved surprisingly popular amongst females too.

#28. Mote Tear-Duct Moisture

image via the Little Witch Store

Along with mascara, eye shadow and eyeliner, a whole new category of eye make up has emerged this year. The Mote Namida-Bukuro (“Tear-Duct”) stick is used to make the eyes pop even more by strategically highlighting the tear duct and under eye area. This product brought over 180,000 sales in 3 months! The eyes are said to be the windows to one’s soul, so it better grab and mesmerize, right?

2011 was a year of many interesting hit products with obvious and surprising ones. Skytree was clearly going to attract those numbers, and Michael claims he knew those tattoo stockings were going to be insanely popular way before it exploded. Which did you find the most interesting?

About the Author

Jenny is a Mandalah Tokyo intern hailing from NYC and studying in Japan. She speaks native Chinese, Japanese, and proficient Korean and is our resident expert on what's trendy on the Asian continent.