Yesterday I went with Ai, the J-List employee who keeps our site well stocked with bento boxes, traditional products from Kyoto and fun Japanese pens, to a product exhibition in Takasaki, a commercial city near J-List. It’s put on twice a year by Eiwa, one of the distributors J-List buys from, to highlight the new products manufacturers are bringing out. I like going to these events because it’s fun to browse the tables and see what interesting stuff we want to carry on J-List, like cute character goods involving cats or a pen that unfolds to become a handy pair of scissors, but I also like going because I feel like I’m riding a time machine back into the early Heisei period (1989~), when things were much simpler for Japan. The products on display at the exhibition are very “analog” and mostly untouched by the many changes brought about by the Internet, and they’re distributed in a centralized Japanese model that’s been in place for a century or more. None of the manufacturers creating the products sold by Eiwa are involved in social media like Facebook or Twitter, and it’s fun to wander through the booths pretending I’ve “timeslipped” into the past. The best thing about the visiting the trade show is, they give us gifts as we leave, including delicious dorayaki (essentially a round “castella” cake with sweet anko beans inside) to bring back to the J-List staff.
I went browsing for Japanese pens for J-List and traveled through time.