Tag Archives: Japan

Asians love making choices

Many Asians live on rice rather than bread. Since it used to sell in heavy bags, they did not have options to choose. However, people nowadays decrease the amount of food to consume and increase the diversity of means to enjoy. A wide variety of small-portion “meal kits” become highly popular. Certainly, rice is not exceptional.

When I visited Tokyo, Japan, I found a store called Akomeya in Shinjuku area. This store is located across Blue Bottle and has more customers than it. When I entered this store out of curiosity, I found it sells small packages of numerous types of rice. In Akomeya, customers could make a choice out of many options, which does not usually happen when buying rice.

Although freedom of choice may not be a pillar of Western culture any more, it may still be attractive for Asians.

Mochon, D. (2013). Single-Option Aversion. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), 555–566.

This article documents single-option aversion, an increase in consumers’ desire to search when faced with a single option. This effect can lead to a product being chosen more often when competing alternatives are included in the choice set, contrary to various rational models of search, as well as to recent research on choice conflict showing that additional options can lead to higher deferral rates. A series of lab studies document this effect, differentiate it from other context effects, and test some of its boundary conditions. The results suggest that single-option aversion is not driven by the information provided by the additional options, that the desire to search is critical for this effect to occur, and that the effects of single- option aversion are not limited to the immediate choice set. These results have both practical and theoretical implications for the understanding of consumer search and choice deferral.

Hibi lights like a match and burns like incense

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a creative hub in Taipei, Taiwan. It organizes art events, displays creative goods, and sells design items.

An incense attracted my attention. Although I like candles and incenses (e.g., red rose scents of Jo Malone and burning sound of Wood Wick), lighting them is a headache. I found a creative solution at the park. A Japanese incense called Hibi is a match itself and produces fragrance for about 10 minutes. According to the website, this 10 minutes aroma has an interesting behind story.

It all started with the encounter of two traditional industries: incense of Awaji Island and matches of Harima. These two traditional industries of Hyogo Prefecture first encountered each other in 2011. The collaboration started with the idea of an incense that could be lit like striking a match and was followed by 3 years of trial and error, an aromatic product with properties of strength and fragrance was developed, which did not break even when struck like a match… The name of products and packaging were developed to convey the sensibility of today’s Japan. All those things were ‘designed’ to create a new way of enjoying fragrance.

Is picture worth a thousand words?

Japanese draw, Chinese speak, and Koreans write. This is my temporary conclusion about how people communicate in three countries. I *suspect* Japanese draw because they intend to help readers understand messages correctly (receiver-oriented), Chinese speak because they find typing Chinese characters difficult (sender-oriented), and Koreans write because these two reasons do not apply (message-oriented, maybe).



Since Japanese like drawing, cartoon is frequently spotted in Japan. At one train station in Fukuoka, for instance, cartoon boards say that people should not throw away cigarette butts, riders should not sit down with their legs spread, women should not put up cosmetics in the train, and riders should not open up their newspaper wide.



Although cartoon is easy to understand, I wonder whether cartoon works for Chinese listeners or Korean readers.


Japanese pork and Canadian chicken?

Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm, that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid, according to Wikipedia. Warm soups are popular as a type of comfort food in the world.


DML_Soul food


People have their own favourite ingredients for soups, and different meats are welcomed in different countries. For instance, in Japan, I have seen many flyers promoting 100-yen ($1) “pork” soup. In Canada, “chicken” soups are highly common. Is this because different meats are priced differently in different countries? Or, more importantly, do Japanese people actually like pork although they are perceived to like fish, and Canadians actually like chicken although they are viewed to like beef? We *might* have developed a wrong belief what ingredients make dishes from different cultures distinctive. 🙂


Do-It-Yourself chocolate kit for Valentine’s day

Valentines’ day is one of the most “commercially successful” holidays in Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. According to Wikipedia, this holiday was first introduced in Japan in 1936 when a company ran an advertisement aimed at foreigners.

Later in 1953, it began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates; other Japanese confectionery companies followed suit thereafter. In 1958, the Isetan department store ran a “Valentine sale”. Further campaigns during the 1960s popularized the custom. The custom that only women give chocolates to men may have originated from the translation error of a chocolate-company executive during the initial campaigns. In particular, office ladies give chocolate to their co-workers. Unlike western countries, gifts such as greeting cards, candies, flowers, or dinner dates are uncommon, and most of the activity about the gifts is about giving the right amount of chocolate to each person. Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year.

Nowadays, many female students around me complain expensive, poor-quality chocolates. However, some want to take this opportunity to express their feelings to others. Few are brave enough to make their own chocolates. Certainly, very few succeed in creating “the only” chocolate for their boyfriends, colleagues, or significant others. Recently, I met a clever solution at a Japanese department store: a do-it-yourself kit for chocolate. This is probably the best solution for those who do not want to waste money on buying ready-made chocolates but want to voluntarily invest an adequate amount of effort to create only one.


DML_Valentine's day @ Fukuoka (2)


In one of my favorite research paper titled as “Why Consumers Enjoy Constrained Creative Experiences,” Darren Dahl and Page Moreau nicely articulated why DIY kits work.

We used a combination of qualitative research and CET to understand why consumers participate in creative activities and the conditions under which they enjoy these experiences… Respondents consistently noted a motivation for personal accomplishment, which was achieved by satisfying the needs of both autonomy and competence… Importantly, this study also provides insight into the influence of external constraints (e.g., target outcomes, instructions) on consumers’ creative experiences. Indeed, the pros and cons of these creative products (e.g., kits, models, patterns, recipes) highlight the tension between consumers’ desire for instructional guidance and their need for individualism. Hobbyists value the feeling of competence that creative products provide, and they create their own strategies to overcome the constraints that such products impose on both the creative process and the outcome. (Dahl and Moreau 2007, pg. 367)

DML_Valentine's day @ Fukuoka (1)


Who knows? We may see a lot of chocolate-only chefs in the near future who do not follow given instructions but use their own ingredients to develop new chocolates. 🙂