19 Seriously Geeky Japanese Products You Didn't Know You Needed – PCMag

Japan is an innovative nation, but not every treasure makes its way stateside. Here are some of the best you can order anyway.
My title is Senior Features Writer, which is a license to write about absolutely anything if I can connect it to technology (I can). I’ve been at PCMag since 2011 and have covered the surveillance state, vaccination cards, ghost guns, voting, ISIS, art, fashion, film, design, gender bias, and more. You might have seen me on TV talking about these topics or heard me on your commute home on the radio or a podcast. Or maybe you’ve just seen my Bernie meme
The land of the rising sun shines its light on many things, including intriguing products. If you do a little digging on the internet, there are so many everyday items that make eminent sense and somehow the rest of the world doesn’t have them.
That’s why the line at the opening of the first East Coast location of Japanese dollar store Daiso(Opens in a new window) was filled with people at 5:30 a.m. who were already planning their YouTube haul videos.
Of course, you can skip the long line or an even longer flight and buy a number of “Japan-only” products on the internet. But not everyone is in the know, so we found some affordable items that will make people wonder if you just returned from Tokyo or the Shops at Skyview(Opens in a new window).
If you’ve found noteworthy Japan-only items in your travels online, let us know in the comments.
A Cube of Coffee
You could spend lots of money on putting together the perfect high-tech coffee setup at home. Or you could rely on whatever magic Coca-Cola Japan cooked up when they compressed coffee into a cube(Opens in a new window).
Arcade Fire
Wearing a vintage Casio watch is no longer unique. You can step up your game with this Pac-Man-emblazoned version(Opens in a new window) instead.
Shield Yourself
Whether you’re trying to up your protection against COVID-19 or are just trying to fight seasonal allergies, this pollen-blocker mask(Opens in a new window) filters what you breathe and covers your eyes.
Wash Your Clothes Wherever You Go
The Minimal Wash Muro Portable Washing Machine(Opens in a new window) is a marvel. It turns any sink, bucket, or tub into a washing machine.
Spin Doctor
Forget SoundCloud. You can press your own singles at home with the Gakken Otona No Kagaku Toy Record Maker(Opens in a new window).
Just Chilling
There are plenty of gadgets for keeping computer-side beverages hot, but this box(Opens in a new window) keeps cans, cartons, bottles, and even small snacks chill.
Sniff Test
Sometimes you’re not sure if you smell. Instead of asking the person closest to you, you can wave the Konica Minolta Kunkun Body Odor Checker(Opens in a new window) around yourself.
An Angel Gets Its Wings
You can raise whatever a regular Tamagotchi is or you can raise an Evangelion angel with this tiny alternative(Opens in a new window).
When the Chips Are Up
Japanese snacks are far more varied than ones in the US. And more thoughtful because vegetarians can choose these avocado and cheese chips(Opens in a new window) and carnivores can chow down on bacon cheeseburger(Opens in a new window) ones.
The Empire Strikes Snacks
Darth Vader can now do your bidding. That is, if your bidding is pouring snacks into the palm of your hand(Opens in a new window).
Chipstick
Sure, you can use that chopstick trick to keep your fingers free from being nuclear orange when you eat Cheetos, or you can use the far more advanced Calbee Pizza Potato Chip Grabber and Stylus(Opens in a new window) to both snap up snacks and scribble on your tablet.
Game Pass
Your return to the office will be a lot better with this Super Mario case(Opens in a new window) that carries your transit card and work ID.
Immaculate Vibes
You can use all the help you can get on social media. So if you want to make that TikTok go viral or block trolls, why not try the extra protection of talismans made exactly for that(Opens in a new window)?
A Rodent By Any Other Name
When is a computer mouse not a mouse? When it’s a hamster(Opens in a new window).
Lunch Special
This bento doesn’t just transport your lunch, it cooks it. You can make a serving of rice and heat up a dish in the Thanko Two-Tier Super-Fast Rice Cooker and Lunchbox(Opens in a new window).
Grow a Heart
In Japan, you can pay nearly $100 for the privilege of owning a square watermelon(Opens in a new window). For far less than that, you can turn your smart garden tomatoes into beautiful little hearts by snapping these heart-shaped tomato molds(Opens in a new window) over the vines when they grow.
Scream Queens
The pandemic has given people plenty of reason to want to yell, and in packed households, not the privacy to do it in. The Shouting Vase(Opens in a new window) is the answer. It significantly dampens the sound of your screams.
Cuffing Season
Noise-canceling headphones are fine, but sometimes you want to hear the world around you and your music. The Ambie Ear Cuffs(Opens in a new window) solve this by letting the sounds of the world in while also letting you listen to whatever you’re playing on your phone.
Good on Paper
Ever wish you could rewrite all the useless buttons on your remote control? You can with the Sony Huis E-Paper Remote Controller(Opens in a new window). It rounds up all the functionality of your remotes and lets you control them.
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My title is Senior Features Writer, which is a license to write about absolutely anything if I can connect it to technology (I can). I’ve been at PCMag since 2011 and have covered the surveillance state, vaccination cards, ghost guns, voting, ISIS, art, fashion, film, design, gender bias, and more. You might have seen me on TV talking about these topics or heard me on your commute home on the radio or a podcast. Or maybe you’ve just seen my Bernie meme
I strive to explain topics that you might come across in the news but not fully understand, such as NFTs and meme stocks. I’ve had the pleasure of talking tech with Jeff Goldblum, Ang Lee, and other celebrities who have brought a different perspective to it. I put great care into writing gift guides and am always touched by the notes I get from people who’ve used them to choose presents that have been well-received. Though I love that I get to write about the tech industry every day, it’s touched by gender, racial, and socioeconomic inequality and I try to bring these topics to light. 
Outside of PCMag, I write fiction, poetry, humor, and essays on culture.
Read Chandra’s full bio
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