Gokiburi hoi hoi, a wonderful home for annoying cockroaches


I was on a work call with an editor in the UK today and he said one of two words he knew in Japanese was ゴキブリホイホイ (gokirubi hoi hoi). In case you don’t know what this very important word means, it’s actually the name of a popular cockroach-catching contraption that is shaped like a little house. The house has mysterious substances in it that lures cockroaches in through its doors; but once they enter, they get stuck on the sticky floor and can never get out and eventually die. We used to have one in our old house but I don’t remember seeing any immobilized cockroaches living in it.

You may not need a real gokiburi hoi hoi if you don’t have a roach problem, but you can get this lovely little keychain that looks like one — it even comes with a resident cockroach! — for just 600 yen here.

Researchers win Ig Nobel Prize for wasabi-scented smoke alarm


This team of Japanese researchers proudly accepted the Ig Nobel Prize for Improbable Research yesterday, for its invention of a wasabi-scented smoke alarm that could alert deaf people who can’t hear audible warnings of fire emergencies. The Wasabi Smoke Alarm emits a dense wasabi oil mist when triggered.

From InventorSpot:

Japan is a true powerhouse when it comes to winning Ig Nobel Prizes, as Japanese recipients have now won awards for the fifth straight year. Previous Ig Nobel Prize winners from Japan have been recognized for using slime molds to design rail networks (2010), proving panda poop can dissolve kitchen refuse (2009), teaching amoebas how to navigate mazes (2008), and for developing a method of extracting vanillin (vanilla fragrance and flavoring) from cow dung (2007).

And, of course, let’s not forget Dr. NakaMats!

(Thanks, Jason!)

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The most popular oil blotting paper in the country

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When my friend Ryo Shimizu–a successful tech entrepreneur from Japan–came to San Francisco last month, he brought me this lovely packet of oil blotting paper from the most popular oil blotting paper brand in Japan as omiyage. Yes, that’s right, there is a company that specializes in making the perfect oil blotting paper. Do they sell oil blotting paper in the US? I certainly have never seen any at Walgreens.

A carrying case just for doughnuts (and a lollipop)


We have a lot of space-wasting single-use products in Japan, but none is more random in my opinion than this doughnut carrying case. As you can see, it has multiple features to help keep your doughnut safe from hazardous environments and theft — a ventilation system, a lock, and a place to put your name. You can even stick a lollipop in the middle!

Buy it here

Finger condoms

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I found these finger condoms at the 100 yen store last night. I’m not sure what they’re useful for, but the packaging promises that they will safely protect your fingers during household chores, office work, and other activities.