Sensory cues of foods, drinks, cosmetics, and other consumer goods in Japan

Kanji with Implicit Insights


The Japanese government revealed the name of the new nation’s era as “Reiwa (令和)” on April 1. The government says that the English translation of the new era name is “beautiful harmony.” The translation comes from the kanji characters instead of the sound, hiragana, or katakana. Kanji characters tell the meaning visually and instantly Kanji characters tell what the word means concisely. Taking an example of a book reading (読書): “Doku (読)” means reading, and “Sho (書)” means a book. “読書” is compact in writing, compared to the sentence: “本を読む.” You find that most Japanese have Kanji characters for their family and given names. Kanji characters for family names including […]

Seasonal Cues and Our Senses


Blooming Sakura tells us that spring is coming. The cherry blossom front (桜前線, “Sakura Zensen”) moves across Japan from the south to the north, from the end of February to the beginning of May. You may enjoy viewing the full blossoms of Sakura at the end of March in Tokyo. If you travel to the Tohoku and Hokkaido areas in late April to early May, you will enjoy viewing Sakura again. The cherry blossoms (Sakura) are the spring specialty. They show us the light pink of gorgeous flower only a few days in a year. When the cherry petals are fallen, we feel that the climate gets warmer. Iconic Things […]

Personify Things


“Wow! How cute this bento is!” When you see a bento box of a kindergarten kid, you may find the smiling face on the Onigiri. You can see that the hand-made bento makes the child smile by looking and tasting it. Onigiri with the smiling face also makes you smile. Kyara-ben, character-bento is an arranged bento, featuring foods to look like people. Kyara-ben is just one example of personification. You can find out other personified things in Japan. For example, several TV commercials feature animals behaving like human beings. The dog behaves like a human being makes you smile and enjoy watching the TV commercial without being annoyed by the […]

Quietness: Words cannot explain

Quietness of Japanese garden

Japanese gardens are typically quiet and free from noises. The gardens are not only silent but also the visuals and smells make your mind calm and quiet. Traditional Japanese gardens generally have stones, trees and a waterfall around ponds to create a miniature of the natural scenery. Expressions of Quietness Words have limitations in explaining how quiet the Japanese garden is. Meanwhile, you feel the quietness of the garden by your eyes, and your nose. The lush greenery with fresh smells of trees and plants make you feel soaked in nature. Sounds also explain how quiet the garden is. Deer Scarer (鹿威し “Shihi-Odoshi”), a bamboo water foundation emphasizes the quietness […]

Haptics: Making experience memorable

Oral Haptics of Doughnuts

When you watch TV programs in Japan, you may be obsessed with so many TV shows about foods. TV programs broadcast Japanese restaurants and food shops from early morning to late evening every day. The TV program cameras typically zoom the foods to show how the inside of the food looks like when you eat. The camera on the TV program also zooms the face of a TV personality or reporter to show when he or she eats the food. Eating delicious food is a special treat for a person in daily life. Oral Haptic Experience Food is more than nutrition. Food offers oral haptic perceptions when you process the […]

Taste: Secret Enhancers


Japanese cuisine (“Washoku 和食” in Japanese) uses ingredients, including fish, vegetables, and rice, which are available in the natural environment. One of the unique characteristics of Japanese foods is using not only fresh ingredients but also cooked and fermented ingredients. Typical Japanese foods include Miso soup, Sushi, Tempura, Tofu, and Udon Noodle. These foods remain popular among all range of generations in Japan as soul foods as well as delicious and healthy foods. Japanese foods also attract non-Japanese people who travel to Japan. What in Japanese foods attracts you? How the Japanese foods attract your taste buds? Japanese cuisine uses a variety of ingredients as if the cooking is art. […]

Sounds affecting your mood

Listening sounds

When you hear Uguisu (Japanese Bush Warbler)’s singing, you may feel relaxed as if you are in a quiet forest. You may also feel that spring is coming soon by listening to the sound of Uguisu. Sounds can communicate how the environment would be. For example, The Uguisu’s singing reminds you of a quest forest because the bird inhabits in a mountainous forest. Furthermore, Uguisu also reminds you of the spring season because the bird starts singing in early spring to attract a mate. Sounds can retrieve memories relating to the objects, knowledge, and experiences that you have had. As a mood changer Sounds can change your mood, too. When […]

Scent Marketing: Smell influences


In the evening after work, your nose may catch a smell of smokey, grilled chicken on the street of Izakaya. The smell is coming from Yakitori-ya, a Japanese restaurant that charcoal-grills chicken on wooden skewers. The smell of Yakitori stimulates your appetite and get you to buy the food. A smell influencing the food taste A smell can indicate how tasty the food would be. For example, when you have a stuffy nose with cold, you cannot taste foods even though the foods should have a delicious taste. You may notice that you taste the food not only by your tongue and organs in the mouth but also your nose […]

Eating with the Eyes: Visuals tell

Japanese sweets

Appearance in food can be the cues for good foods Foods in Japan stimulate your multiple senses. Delicious foods have not only good tastes, but also good appearance, smells, and texture. Visuals are some of the key sensory cues for consumers to find good foods to eat. For example, consumers in Japan pick up a packaged Sashimi with bright, most and firm appearance as fresh fish at the supermarket. They also pick up strawberries with bright red color and glossy appearance as fresh ones when they buy and eat them as fresh fruit. Visuals can be important sensory cues for consumers especially to find fresh food ingredients to cook and […]