While Americans take debates over gendered toys, hysteria about screen time and an obsession with toys that teach coding to the level of national importance, in Japan they just keep on keeping it weird. That’s not exactly breaking news — Westerners have been marveling the Japanese talent for imbuing technology with bizarro quirkiness for generations — but it’s always good to check and see what’s entertaining kids in weird Japan. Why? Because it’s almost guaranteed to entertain you, too.
Pachi Pachi Clappy
You know that Zen koan that asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Here’s your answer. A lot of Japanese toys seem to exist just for the sake of existing, but Pachi Pachi Clappy has some cultural relevance. Clapping in Japan is a pervasive custom before meals, during prayers and to conclude special events like business negotiations. So maybe pick up 2 — one for your kid and one for you to whip out the next time you close a deal with a Japanese client and clap your “big soft squishy hands” together “in as manic a way as you like.” It’s what’s culturally appropriate.
Fat Cute Soldiers
Maybe it’s a commentary on the obesity epidemic, or maybe Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy just thought it would be funny to see what the little green army men of your youth would look like if they completely let themselves go. All 8 of the Fat Cute Soldiers have an adorable name and hilarious pose. Calorie Boy salutes with a donut. Honey Sniper keeps cutlery in his utility belt. Coffee Breaker, well, he’s straight up passed out with a cookie. And just to tie it up in a neat little nostalgia package, each soldier comes in a little plastic prize egg randomly dispensed from popular Gachapon machines (also known as those things your mom never gave you a quarter for).
These creepy little Pokemon-insect mutant things are apparently hugely popular in Japan. The 30+ characters were dreamed up (or nightmare-induced) by illustrator Toshitaka Nabata and are known in Japanese as kimokawaii, a blend of ugly (kimoi) and cute (kawaii). So, yeah, they’re supposed to look like that. Kobito Dukan translates to “dwarf encyclopedia” and refers to the whole collection of these beautifully repulsive buggers, which are available in just about every form imaginable (and can never be un-seen).
The zombie craze has reached the far east and they’ve put a distinct spin on it, because apparently nothing horrifies the Japanese like a moldy strawberry toy coming back from the dead and doing the “Thriller” dance. The zombies do double-duty as a lesson in Japanese vocabulary, since you won’t fully understand each character until you figure out what what an Ichigo, Sakuranbo, Nashi, Budou or Painappuru is. They did throw Americans one bone, though: Banana.
Check out even more weird Japanese toys over on Neatorama.