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The Japanese Packaging We Love

May 22, 2018

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What a lame title! Ah! If it’s a lame title, does it make for a lame video? I hope not, but I know that this isn’t gonna be a video that crushes it on the Trending Page. It’s just something we constantly see around us and say “goddamn why don’t they have this where I’m from?!”

Or hey, do they have this where you’re from? I’m starting to think we’re really out of touch with what’s happening in Canada now. Cyber_3, let me know if you’ve seen these. On May 30th it’ll be ten years since we left home. A decade. Damn that’s a long time. I’m sure things have changed since we’ve left. I don’t know. We’ll be back in Canada this August, and we’ll check out if they have this stuff.

Enough about how out of touch we are. I need to be more affirmative in the statements I make on this site, according to some readers. HEY! NORTH AMERICA! Dry toilet paper isn’t gonna cut it anymore. Get with the program! Bad microwave dinners ain’t gonna cut it anymore. Fix your packaging! Make it better for customers. Hey you! Soy milk companies! I see you hiding behind your big cash and not improving your product. Make your milk boxes better! And Canada, I know you still have milk bags. We gotta stop with those milk bags. Innovate!

And yeah, I drink a lot of soy milk. I need them for my protein shakes. I used to drink them with milk but then my cholesterol went too damned high so I switched to soy milk, and my tests this year are a lot better and my cholesterol is perfect. Call me a soy boy if you want, but I’m a big boy. SOY MAN! SOY MAN! HE CAN CRUSH A DIAMOND IN HIS HAND. SOY MAAAAAAN!

These soy milk packages are pretty new. They just started with these spouts maybe for half a year or so. Before they used to be screw tops, but once they switched to the new packaging we were thoroughly impressed. And then we were inspired for this video, and started writing down ideas. I’ll need your help with something. Take a look at this list:

Packaging List

WHAT THE FORK IS “YOGHURT HALF OPENING”?! We’re flummoxed. It was good enough to write in the middle of our brainstorming. We even wrote some things after it, which means it made sense when we wrote it, but when we started filming this we had no freaking clue what we were talking about. Yoghurt Half Packaging? What? We went to our grocery and convenience stores and started looking at all the yoghurt to see if something would jog our memories, but nope, can’t find it. People of Japan, visitors of Japan: do you have any idea what we’re talking about? We still can’t figure this out, even after editing the video.

So that’s it for this video. We might have another video ready this week as well. We’re really sorry for not posting a video for a while. Our last two videos came on a good week, and that was followed by a bad couple of weeks. Not being able to post makes things worse as well, because we really look forward to talking with you all in the comments. But we made it through, and we’re doing a bit better now, here for more videos to share with you.

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The Japanese Packaging We Love

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  1. Simon looks like Kratos from the latest God of War.

    5 months ago
  2. Whoa! Way to be “affirmative” – LOL! Maybe a tad OTT, but I feel like you’re very enthusiastic, which is always fun and interesting, so yay! XD …..yeah, I’ll go with yay :). A super fun video, as usual, I never knew that I could be so excited about packaging – whehoo! It’s the little, every day things that can make a real difference in your life :). Man, there is so much here, I actually took notes this time because I was sure that I would forget something (like I always do….) and then end up replying to myself :P. Click straws, they had these when I was a kid (about 10 years before you guise were kids) but they didn’t last long. I suspect that it’s because some of the manufacturers were too cheap and made the punch-hole the size of the small straw so that when you tried to push in the bigger part, it un-clicked or folded your straw – total drinking fail. Bendy straws beat them out for popularity, do they use bendy straws in Japan? Click chopsticks – at great idea for bentos, need to get me some. The “partial opening” for those delicious-looking ice cream balls makes total sense to me – 1) for kids, so that they’re not all putting their hands in the pkg, and for the freezer, if you just eat one once in a while, the pkg is way easier to close if it’s just a small opening so that the balls don’t get freezer burn. Speaking of “yogurt half-opening”, the only thing I can think of like this in Canada is those single-serving breakfast yogurts that are closed with foil (as usual) but also have a small clear plastic upside down “cup” on top filled with granola or fruit – this lets you either dump the granola into the yogurt or pour the yogurt into the cup over the granola or share with a friend and the cup doubles as a lid (the foil is throwaway) so you can re-close your yogurt if you don’t eat it all. You can reseal bigger containers since they have a plastic lid over the foil. I prefer yogurt with 9%-14% fat, so that they can be filling, so this is useful to me. Milk in bags is way more sanitary and cheaper than buying only 1L cartons. Packs in the cooler/freezer more easily as well because they can be separated. Is crispy nori a desirable thing on onigiri? I thought that the whole point with maki rolls was to soften the nori in the fridge for 10 minutes? I’m not sure that a crumbly wrapper is something I desire in a sandwich…..But I guess that nori can get too soft depending on how long the onigiri is stored, or if you want to freeze the onigiri for transport? Same for those convenience store meals, the multi-layer packaging is designed to let the various layers be cooked/cooled/assembled at different times and/or locations without fear of disturbing the previous layer (also, you don’t want the packaging from the sauces to touch your food, because they didn’t all come from the same factory). That meal looks tasty Simon but it’s really unlikely to find that kind of thing at a convenience store in Canada. Most of the large grocery stores make this kind of thing and sell it for lunch though, hot or cold. Don’t try to get some after 4pm, they’re pretty strictly for lunch. Finally putting those leftover fruit/veg/cold cuts to use as well, but you can get curry, pastas, cutlets, that kind of thing. I suspect that they’re brought in, like the cakes and breads these days (it looks like there is a bakery in the store and sometimes they even cook the bread or ice the cakes, but they don’t make anything in house any more – none of the chains – and the taste/quality is noticeably less than before). I have noticed that more interesting pick-up/takeout meal places have popped up all over the place and order-a-meal services are crazy popular in Toronto (everything from grilled cheese and apples to a 4 course dinner) – they are not worth it IMHO, but if you’re always on the go, I guess that it saves you from ever keeping food in your house – I’ve heard several people at playgrounds just ordering a snack for their kids on their cells this way. More and more workplaces are having meals catered this way too (ordered pre-packed daily in the fridge), rather than having a cafeteria. The toothpicks idea is cool, but it would never fly in North America – think about it, a dirty toothpick with globs of food sitting on the table for all to see? Ewwwww! People would keep it hidden in their napkin, or just get another one. That soymilk sout thingy- is really cool! I don’t know if they have that here or not, I don’t drink alternative milks. However, I have seen something very similar for large wine boxes. They are slowly gaining popularity here, they make so much sense for parties and picnics – from transport, dispensation, and cooling perpectives. I liked the extra videos, always so much fun. I picked Simon this time, I think it was a tie though ;). Peach Coke – I would have thought it would be disgusting, but maybe it if didn’t taste like Coke? Vanilla and cherry coke/pepsi seem to be back in fashion this year, I miss Lime pepsi – it was awesome! (lime coke often tasted like mr clean in pop). Fun fact: my husband makes a drink for parties that his friends call a “Stealth Drink” because it has 5 different kinds of alcohol in it, but ends up tasting just like Vanilla coke (but you will get drunk – super fast – like Long Island Iced Tea). While Martina’s curry video was interesting, it was maybe a little less exciting than the main video because I’d had enough super exciting packaging at that point, could have just included it with the rest. I was most impressed with the box design because then you don’t risk a) curry leakage because it is tilted at an angle or b)scalding you hands on super hot curry trying to dispense it into a bowl. So much pre-packaged food in North America has so many fillers (like cellulose a.k.a. cardboard) in it, it’s so unhealthy to eat, I haven’t bought any in years. However, my Mother-in-Law recently started buying pre-packaged fresh vegetables (at Wal-mart?), like broccoli where it’s already chopped up for you and there is an automatic steam-release on the plastic bag so that you just have to microwave it. To me, it’s expensive for what it is, but I can understand her buying it because it’s still just plain fresh vegetables (i.e. healthy) but she had arthritis to it’s difficult for her to chop much. I imagine that it’s pretty handy when you’re cooking for a crowd too………Last but not least – two areas that I think that people would be interested in, with respect to going to Japan, 1) feminine hygiene products – so mysterious, are they different? there have been some real revolutions in the last 5 years over here, in general, people are too squeamish to talk about it tho’…… and 2)landmarks and signs – just getting around every day, there must be a million signs people look at, pictograms mostly, don’t walk, bathroom here, cooling station, convenience store, there must be some strange ones in Japan, I think it would be interesting to show some of these for travellers (I know that you showed some in your “taking the train” video, but still). By the way, a friend from Thailand showed me some manhole covers that are in her area, like the one in the video and they are really detailed and beautiful, sometimes colourful, usually depicting the area/city that they are in, is this the norm in Japan too? North America is mostly plain boring ones, with the only making on it being the manufacturer’s name.

    5 months ago
    • Now THIS is a reply hahahah thank you as usual for your great responses! I took a lot of notes on my weight loss video blogpost for food ideas ;)
      A few quick answers:

      1) feminine hygiene products: mysterious because I couldn’t read the packaging, but they have a lot of graphics on the packaging now like the size, length, or “flow” amount. They even have North American brands just written in Japanese and I once I figured that out I was like…OOOooOOoooH. Asia, not big on tampons still, but I’m not a tampon user myself so I’ve never been worried.

      2) Manhole covers here are EPIC! Every single city region has cool different designs and I love it! :)

      I’ll take some notes on your comment and see what kind of video we can rustle up.

      5 months ago
      • Just listened to your podcast – HOLY CRAP! Way to open those floodgates of assertiveness!!! XD Simon and Martina are back IN DA HOUSSSSSSEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! Really interesting podcast, I hadn’t really thought about the history of Korea from the day to day perspective in that way before with regards to the “shop culture”, great insights! :) If there is somewhere that people discuss your podcasts, please let me know. You have your own reddit, if more people actually went there to talk (i.e. they knew about it), that might be a nice place to discuss things?

        5 months ago
  3. I find Japan certainly does try to make small things more efficient, but then they also can be a bit over the top. Sometimes when I buy a litre carton of milk from FamilyMart, or a large carton of Milk tea the cashier will give me a GIANT straw, as if I am going to just sit and down a full litre in one sitting (which would murder me, with my mild lactose intolerance which I ignore way too often….) One thing I like is my city has mandatory garbage bags we have to use. They have colour coding for different uses (home vs commercial) and have print on them and such. The bags they come in have this lovely little corner perforation so you don’t have to ruin the bag they are in. You can take out a bag easily, and return the rest to a neat and flat resting position.

    I can say for sure the few stores in Canada (GTA area) that sell onigiri, like Oceans or TNT have the 3 part magical plastic opening. Also, I am not sure what you have against bagged milk…but I personally think it’s a better option for large quantities of milk than a massive jug. With bags you are only opening a litre and a bit at a time, so the shelf life is longer and you don’t get the crusty jug rim that gets all smelly. Bags require a lot of finesse, and if you accidentally cut the corner where the handle is good luck you done goofed – but they aren’t as gross as jugs. XD

    5 months ago
  4. The cold noodles are called Hiyashi Chuuka (冷やし中華), which I believe is short for Hiyashi Chuuka-soba. So it’s literally “chilled chuuka-soba.” Great video, as always!

    5 months ago