Japan’s Suntory Celebrates Rolling Stones’ 50th

Japan’s Suntory beverage behemoth (best known beyond Japan for Bill Murray’s “Suntory Time” commercial in Lost in Translation) has made 2012 the year of the Rolling Stones, with a Stones Bar series celebrating the anniversary and stirring up such boozy tributes to the band as Rolling Hop beer, Rolling Gold “bottled cocktail,” and a Citrus Highball. 

Now Suntory (which develops customized drinks for Japanese tastebuds such as wacky-flavored Pepsi varieties) is outdoing itself with the ultimate Stones-themed alcoholic beverage: a limited-edition whisky. How limited? Only 150 bottles were released on Oct. 30.

The “whisky is a blend of carefully selected malts distilled and casked in milestone years throughout the band’s 50 year history, including a malt from the year the band formed that has been long-aged in mizunara (Japanese oak) casks.” It comes in a crystal bottle (even though crystal is for the 15th anniversary) that has the lips and tongue logo cut in relief on the front of the bottle as well as a diamond-shaped decorative stopper.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Suntory Celebrates Rolling Stones’ 50th With Limited Edition Whisky.


PlayStation Chiefs Defend Vita Handheld

The presidents of Sony Computer Entertainment’s U.S. and Japan divisions have recently, in separate interviews, stepped up to defend PlayStation Vita’s position in the marketplace.

The new handheld game machine has been struggling at retail, with neither the hardware nor software showing signs of standing up to the competition. Recent Sony losses forced the company to lower its handheld sales forecasts for the remainder of the year.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan president Hiroshi Kawano spoke highly of the Vita’s chances back in May, citing a “mountain” of anticipated games and a new white Vita system coming in June. When 4Gamer.net asked him about that this month, Kawano said Vita “got an unusually strong response in June.”

Read the rest of the story: U.S., Japan PlayStation Chiefs Defend Vita.

4K Video: A New Hope for Japan’s Electronics Makers

These are dark days for the electronics industry in Japan. Sony Corp. is working to regain its mojo and profitability after four straight years in the red, while Sharp, which once ruled Japan’s television market, is now facing a cash crunch that has raised questions about its long-term future.

The opportunities to script a comeback also appear grim. Smartphones are dominated by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., the tablet market is ruled by Apple, and the television sector is a dog-fight that leaves nearly everyone awash in losses. So where can Japan Inc. turn to for a hope for brighter days?

Read the rest of the story: 4K Video: A Hope for Japans Electronics Makers?.

Japan McDonald’s recalls flawed giveaway glasses

McDonald’s in Japan said Wednesday it was recalling giveaway glass tumblers after 78 people reported being injured by the Olympic-themed freebies.

The fast food giant said it had received 130 complaints after handing out the tumblers to purchasers of “Value Sets”, which included fries and a soft drink, during their “Olympic Cheer Coke Glass Campaign” in June and July.

McDonald’s said they gave away six million tumblers in Japan, some of which had “glass protrusions” on their edges or insides because of a manufacturing error.

Read the rest of the story: AFP: Japan McDonald’s recalls flawed giveaway glasses.


Japan’s Modi Corp Unveils Do-It-Yourself EV – Pius

Modi Corp, a Japan-based company that prototypes vehicles, announced that it has developed a built-it-yourself micro electric vehicle (EV).

The EV, “Pius,” is a single-seater and can be registered as a class-1 motorized bicycle in Japan. The company expects that the EV will be used as an educational tool for learning the basic functions and structure of EV. It is scheduled to be released in or after the spring of 2013.

Modi aims to sell the Pius to educational institutions such as universities, colleges of technology and car mechanics’ schools. Also, it offers a service of embedding components that its customers use for research and development in the EV so that they can use the vehicle for the evaluation of the components. The price of the EV has not been decided yet.

Read the rest of the story: Japan-based Firm Unveils Built-it-yourself EV.

Sony Announces HD Wearable Video Camera

Sony today announced that it is developing a new type of high definition wearable video camera which answers the demand for premium point-of-view and action sports filming devices. The new video camera will feature Sony’s hallmark SteadyShot image stabilization technology, found in its portfolio of digital imaging products, to reduce blur and deliver stunningly smooth footage. The video camera’s small, lightweight body will also house an Exmor R CMOS image sensor for excellent low light shooting and an ultra-wide angle Carl Zeiss Tessar lens.

Additionally, Sony will offer a suite of mounting attachments, including waterproof and ruggedized housings. By combining this technology with more features on the way, Sony aims to deliver a versatile, easy-to-use video camera capable of capturing full HD quality video in extreme environments. Sony plans to bring the new point-of-view video camera to market in fall 2012.

2NE1 Doing Song For Maybelline New York

2NE1 and Maybelline New York are doing an upcoming Japanese commercial.

Group member Park Bom announced at a PR event that a new 2NE1 song would be used for the companies’s commercials.

“The song expresses the feelings of a woman and perfectly fits Maybelline’s image. I can’t sing it for you yet, but please look forward to it,” she told reporters.

Nintendo 3DS getting larger screens

Nintendo Co. has upgraded its 3DS handheld to sport a screen nearly twice as big as the previous model.

It comes amid hot competition against smartphones and tablets that are wooing people away from dedicated gaming machines.

The Nintendo 3DS LL, called 3DS XL outside Japan, goes on sale in Japan and Europe July 28, and in the U.S. from Aug. 19. It will sell for $199.99 in the U.S.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Bestselling Game of 2012 and Tops on Amazon Japan’s Best-Seller List

Final Fantasy XIII-2, the latest Final Fantasy game from Japanese RPG stalwart Square Enix, is the bestselling game of 2012 on Amazon’s Japanese storefront. The company published a comprehensive list of all the top-selling products in all departments for the last six months (December 1, 2011 – May 31, 2012), and Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the leader of all gaming products.

The unusually-titled Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a sequel to 2009′s hotly-anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. XIII sold a million copes in its first day in Japan but was met with mixed reviews in the United States and Europe. XIII-2 addressed recurring criticisms echoed in those reviews and was generally better-received, although it only sold half as well as XIII did. In a dubious honor, Final Fantasy XIII was the top traded-in game during the same sales period.

Read the rest of the story: Final Fantasy XIII-2 Tops Amazon Japan’s Best-Seller List.

NFC-Based Ads Tested in Japan Transit System

According to the Census Bureau, the vast majority of Americans live in cities, and in most cities public transportation is a top priority. Thats why a new innovation in delivering advertisements via public transportation in Japan could point toward the future of transit ads in the U.S.

The system, developed by Japan-based firm Shunkosha, is called Strappy and allows train passengers to access advertisements and other information via a Near Field Communication NFC equipped strap cover. According to Keitai Watch, the passenger can simply touch their compatible phone to the strap cover and get immediate access to the content being delivered to that NFC point.

The testing of the system began in Tokyo in mid-May on several high-traffic train lines. According to the manufacturer, although the user will have immediate access to advertising information and other content, the company will not collect personal data from the users of the system, an important point in a time when consumers are becoming increasingly privacy-sensitive.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Transit System Tests NFC-Based Ads.