Hand warmers and novelty products

It’s cold! A day for カイロ (hand warmers). The first time I came to Japan was the first time I encountered these portable packets. The brand my homestay family had was ホッカイロ (Hokkairo), which totally confused me because I thought they were talking about going to Hokkaido. And then I thought that was the name of the product until I saw other brands like ホカロン (Hokaron).

Do you know the kanji? (See the bottom of this post for the answer.)

Do you know how they work?

It’s a simple chemical reaction. Basically, the packets are rusting, and the heat is just a by-product of that reaction.

Read about it in English here: “How Do Hand Warmers Work, Anyway?” (from Adventure Journal)

At the end of the article, there are several recommendations/links to purchase them. The prices in dollars on Amazon seem a little steep to me, compared to Japanese prices. Anyway, there’s also an electric hand warmer made by Eneloop, which may be better for the environment. It’s available on the Japan Trend Shop, which I’m not recommending you use to actually buy anything, but it’s a pretty funny place to browse many novelty products you’d “only find in Japan”.

 


The kanji for カイロ is:

懐炉

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Poop coming in handy

Yes poop. 💩

Here are two ways poop came in handy this year:

In Japan: “Professor Poo bestseller brings scatology-based study to Japan” (from the Guardian). This book is helping kids learn to write kanji characters, and the term うんこ漢字ドリル(Poop Kanji Drills is the name of the book) was one of this year’s Words of the Year in Japan. (“The Japanese words that perfectly sum up how the country felt this year” from Quartz)

Read more about the workbook at Spoon and Tamago.


In the US: turning cow poop into electricity

Read more about this “methane digester” at the Strauss Family Creamery in California.

A day in the life

The California Sunday Magazine has a whole issue about teenagers this month. Because:

“We wanted to see how they’re living right now in the world adults made for them and how they’re beginning to change it — and maybe get a glimpse of where we’re all headed together.”

Here’s the cover photo:

Stories include:

Life advice from teen experts — how to meet new people, how to get people to care about something, how to say no, how to throw a good dance party (and more)

The two hour commute — see how three teenagers commute, with illustrations

How they do lunch

A conversation about social media and politics

Hanging out

This is a great model for a cross-cultural comparison or a research project about teenagers or university students in Japan: Find people to survey, ask good questions, analyze their answers, add photos and illustrations.