When you want a bit of animal (or insect) companionship, but without having to be responsible for keeping your friend alive – Japan’s gadget makers have you covered. Aside from the large range of robotic pets aimed at the family market, there are plenty of smaller options perfect for your office. Because let’s face it – where do we need cheering up? At home or during those long hours in front of the computer?
Our favorite desktop-friendly “pets” below…
Virtual ant farm
In terms of interactivity, the Ant’s Life Studio tops this roundup. Watching your ants build their nest, gather food and attack intruders is a welcome break from TPS-report drudgery. And when you want to give your ants a helping hand + more
Ever since we added the Golden Half Half-Frame camera to our store, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the idea of split-frame images. You see, the camera uses 35mm film but only exposes half of the frame with each shot. So when you develop the film, each photo has 2 images on it. That’s pretty cool.
To get some inspiration for how to use the camera, I decided to peruse some of Flickr’s diptych photo galleries. I came away with a lot of new ideas, and what better place to share those than right here on the blog…
The action duo
From LOLren‘s Flickr photostream
Wide shot + macro + more
Perhaps you’ve noticed our never-ending love of Instax – Fujifilm’s little polaroid-style cameras… Our photo contest showed us how much creative potential an Instax camera really has. And what better way to expand on that potential than with a whole slew of essential accessories. Our favorites below…
Fisheye lens kit
Rather than wax poetical about this one, let’s let the photos speak for themselves. Here is Tokyo Sky Tree shot with the Instax mini 7s.
Now here it is with the same 7s, using the fisheye lens… + more
When it comes to keeping cool in the blazing summer, your choices are fairly limited. The air conditioner is your most effective option, and fans are nice. And you can always pop your pajamas in the freezer or take a cold shower to help you chill. But after that, it’s all about creating a cooling atmosphere. Here are some of our favorite gadgets for helping you do just that…
If you can’t make it to the beach or the pool, you can at least + more
We’ve added some new goodies to the Japan Gadget Shop. “Double the fun” is definitely the theme of this batch. Read on to see what I mean…
Hello Kitty half-frame camera
Hello Kitty always ups the fun factor (well, almost always), but that’s not why the Golden Half camera fits in perfectly with our post’s theme. This is a 35mm half-frame film camera, meaning it only exposes half the frame with each shot. The result? + more
Last week we looked at some of Japan’s more interested over-ear headphones. Today we turn our attention to their more compact counterparts, the in-ear headphone. The lesson here – earbuds needn’t be boring or sad… See what we mean below.
Angel and devil earbuds
A lot of the more ambitious Japanese in-ear earphones play off the pair idea. And here we have a classic duo indeed – angel and devil.
Crazy earbuds + more
It takes a certain person to wear over-ear headphones. Perhaps your a major music fan and you can’t get the sound quality you want from a set of earbuds. Or maybe you’re looking to make a fashion statement – after all, in a sea of white earbuds, a set of over-ear headphones certainly turns heads.
As a center for all things precise and electronic – not to mention a world fashion center – you’d better believe that Japan is all over the headphones thing. Here are a few of our favorite models…
Zumreed striped headphones
Slick, colorful, fun… Did we mention + more
We’re all armed with our standard point-and-shoots, and our cell phone cameras certainly do well in a pinch. But for some situations – extreme sports, extreme close-ups and yes, spywork – there is no substitute for a uni-tasking digital camera. We’ve listed some of our favorites from Japan below…
Undercover reporting, James Bond-style antics, a little corporate espionage – a nice digital watch/video camera opens up a whole load of possibilities. While this camera + more
Nikon, Canon, Fuji – Japan’s top names in photography are justly famous for their high-quality lenses and cutting-edge digital cameras. But the story doesn’t end there, as Japan is also the birthplace of some of the best lomo and toy cameras on the market. Meet some of our favorites below…
The tasty keychain camera
A good toy camera definitely needs a fun form factor. The Biscuit Camera (and its cousin, the Chocolate Bar Camera) certainly stand out in this arena. Not only is it tiny, packing in a VGA digital camera into something the size of a keychain, but it’s got a cute biscuit shape. Nice.
Get your color on
And speaking of fun form factors, I’m a big fan of the Gizmon Rainbow Fish Camera‘s primary color scheme. But looks alone didn’t earn the Rainbow Fish a place on our list… it’s also got some excellent shooting features, starting with manual RGB control that gives you shots that drip with rich, other-worldly color.
The features don’t end there – you also get 4x digital zoom, flash, up to 5 megapixel resolution and a water-resistant case. Come to think of it, it may be stretching the limit of what can safely be considered a toy camera…
For 35mm film fans
It’s a 35mm film camera, wrapped up in a milk carton. Or rather, a Mjölk carton. The shutter release looks like a straw. Need I say more?
The 3D option
Toy camera makers haven’t ignored the latest 3D craze, though they are ditching the usual parallax barrier LCD screens in favor of some more appropriately low-tech solutions. Our pick, the 3D Shot Cam, has 2 lenses to catch the depth in a scene and comes with a handful of cardstock viewers. The perfect 3D camera for the lomo crowd.
The go-anywhere toy camera
Sometimes, you just want to shoot with a camera that’s as long as your thumb. And sometimes, you just want to shoot with a thumb-sized camera underwater (at least I do). For those times, there is the Waterproof Chobi Cam. It shoots photos and videos (with audio) up to 20m underwater. Seriously impressive.
We’ve added some fun new stuff to our Japan Gadget Shop website. Here are some of my favorites, featuring a bit of a light-up theme…
Rainbow LED Umbrella
It’s the real-life Blade Runner umbrella, ready-made for your own replicant-retiring journeys across a dystopian urban landscape. Or, you know, a rainy walk to your car across an unlit parking lot. The umbrella offers 9 different light-up possibilities – 7 solid colors and 2 different rainbow modes.
iPhone 4 glow-in-the-dark skin
I think the appeal of this gadget accessory is pretty obvious… Hunting down a ringing phone after you’ve turned off the lights to go to bed? No fun. Green glowing iPhone? Much better. Not only is it easy to spot, but the skin is also tough enough to protect your iPhone from scratches.
It’s a light, it’s a stool, it’s a… giant tooth? Well, there are definitely a lot of people out there who love to surround themselves with out-there homewares. And for those who want to stand out from the crowd, well, there’s no mistaking this for an Ikea buy.
Stone Palette Rainbow Projector
We started with rainbows, so let’s end with rainbows. Our range of ceiling illuminators is now complete, with the addition of this rainbow projector. It cheers up a room beautifully and offers 3 different light up options – a steady rainbow projection, a slow fade in and out and a variation mode that mixes things up.