A worker at a McDonald’s branch in Japan died of “karoshi” — the Japanese term for death from overwork — according to officials at the local government labor bureau. The employee, a 41-year-old woman, had put in about 80 hours a month in overtime for six months before she died. “We determined her work caused the illness,” said an official at the agency.
What could be more American than celebrating the launch of a new product with an almost comically unhealthy fast-food product? Unfortunately, the seven-patty Windows 7 Whopper is only available in Japan.
Would you like your morning coffee with a side of Domo-kun? In one of those odd twists of globalization and marketing synergy, the mascot of Japanese public television network NHK has found his way onto 99 cent cups of coffee and special Slurpee cups at 7-Eleven stores in the United States.
Last month, the New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating story by Lisa Katayama about the popularity of body-pillow girlfriends in Japan. Apparently, an unknown fraction of men – a subculture of a subculture – adopt “2-D” lovers as a substitute for the real thing. They take them out to restaurants, treat them tenderly, and bring them home to bed at night.
I like to make fun of white people (and, really, who doesn’t). Even McDonald’s likes to make fun of white people if the white people live in Japan. A new McDonald’s advertising there campaign centers on one Mr. James, a bespectacled idiot who tortures the Japanese language and is quite literally crazed for McDonald’s burgers.
Here’s a story that we missed late last week, probably because we were busy having nightmares about snake heads. Toyota lost $7.74 billion this past quarter. That’s more than GM (though less than GM pre-bailout), and much more than predicted. It’s the company’s first annual loss since Elvis was in the Army.
Every time you darn your socks, a child goes hungry.
Nissan will cut 20,000 jobs as US sales plunged 31%. “Our worst assumptions on the state of the global economy have been met or exceeded,” said Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn. [Bloomberg]
Reader Patrick points out a roast that could save the economy single-handedly — 15 lbs of Wagyu beef from Costco for $2,299.99.
Japan is a unique country with an adventurous palate, the perfect place to try out new Pepsi Yogurt flavor, aka “Pepsi White.” Reader Danny who sent this in says, “The flavor was quite sweet, and closer to that of 7-UP with some slightly milky tones (not really yogurt, just milk). Overall it was good, if odd.” In this concoction, it would appear culinary scientists have discovered found the absolute gastronomical inverse of Crystal Clear Pepsi. Congratulations, Science.
A Japanese sake house near Tokyo has stolen one of my ideas and employed monkeys as waiters—one brings hot towels to customers when they sit down, and another takes orders and delivers bottles of sake. They’re tipped in edamame, which U.S. waitstaff should seriously consider since you don’t have to report it, and since the dollar will soon be worth about the same anyway. Our favorite quote from the article: “‘The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,’ customer Takayoshi Soeno said.” Hold on to your hats, there’s video footage below!
I am secretly coveting this stuffed teddy bear that is also a cellphone. It’s called Kuma Phone. Price: $500. Conspicuous consumption has never been cuter. [Cscout Japan]
In what should have been a no-brainer, Apple today agreed to replace any iPod Nanos that unexpectedly explode. The announcement came as a response to the Japanese government, which yesterday asked the computer-maker to “take some measures” to warn consumers of the potential danger of their little pocket rockets. Apple blames a single bad battery supplier for the spontaneous fireworks.
Like Zubaz pants before them, Crocs seem to be well on their way to assuming their rightful place of honor in the bad fad hall of fame as the company slashed its sales forecast and announced that it would be closing a plant in Quebec due to decreased traffic in its US stores.
Before leaving for his honeymoon, Derek called Bank of America to make sure he could rely on his debit card while he was in Japan. Bank of America assured him that he would have no problem accessing money. Yet on the third day of his honeymoon, neither he nor his wife could draw cash from their cards, stranding them with only $15 in cash.