Traditional Kyoto Sake and Sweets Get an Anime Facelift

posted on by Bamboo Dong
Anime-branded goods aim for a younger demographic.

For your next trip to Japan, consider buying a bottle of Space Brothers sake or Chihayafuru namayatsuhashi. Or how about Attack on Titan-branded mochi cakes?

Makers of sake and traditional Japanese sweets in Kyoto are turning to anime in an effort to rebrand their products for younger customers. For certain companies—some of which have been around since the Edo period—this marketing tactic is an opportunity to change younger consumer's preconceptions of these products. As Shiraito Shuzo sake brewery director Miho Miyazaki told Asahi, "We want to change the image of sake, which is associated with an expensive drink patronized by old men, with the use of anime."

Shiraito Shuzo, founded in 1773, is currently selling 300 mL bottles of sake bearing images of Tomoe-chan, the mascot for the upcoming Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair. They're also selling a larger 1.8 L bottle with characters from the classic robot anime Armored Trooper Votoms.

For attendees going to the manga and anime fair, they can look forward to other anime-branded Shiraito products too. Their other offerings for the fair include products featuring characters from Space Brothers (300 mL bottles of sake in two varieties), Yamato 2199 (wooden sake cups), Eccentric Family (sake), Ghost in the Shell: Arise (sake + wooden cups), Attack on Titan (mochi cakes), and Hakuoki (sake).

On the sake side of things, the Eccentric Family line of sake will come in three varieties, and will feature images of the characters on the bottles. Meanwhile, the Ghost in the Shell: Arise line of sake will be available in two varieties, along with wooden cups featuring a Logicoma. There will also be three varieties of Armored Trooper Votoms sake. Lastly, for all the otome game fans, while there will be two varieties of Hakuoki sake, with seven labels to choose from. Each Hakuoki sake bottle will also come with a love fortune-telling talisman that tells you your compatibility with one of the series characters.

For all the non-drinkers, the brewery will also be selling two variants of Yamato 2199 wooden sake cups that will feature a similar Yamato 2199 image wrap-around that was used in recent train campaigns. They will also be selling Attack on Titan-branded mochi cakes, which will come with one of 15 character stickers. The mochi cake itself will have Eren's eye stamped on it.

The brewery first started making anime-branded labels last year, selling the products in a shop near Nijo Castle in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward.

Traditional sweets manufacturers have started using anime-branded packaging to help expand their customer base as well, including Shogoin Yatsuhashi Shohonten, which specializes in namayatsuhashi, a confectionery made from glutinous rice flour and sugar and other flavorings. Last month, Shogoin started selling a version of their cinnamon namayatsuhashi in packages decorated with characters from the anime Hakuoki, an otome game-turned-anime historical action series set in Kyoto. So far, these anime-branded candies can only be found at the Kyoto International Manga Museum and other special outlets.

Even though these sweets have only been produced in limited runs, they've been a hit. Last September, during the city's first Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair, Shogoin made 1,800 pieces of namayatsuhashi in wrappers featuring characters from Space Brothers and Chihayafuru, all of which sold out in two days.

For this year's upcoming fair, they plan on unveiling a limited run of sweets packaged in wrappers featuring characters from The Eccentric Family, another anime series set in Kyoto.

The Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair, also called Kyo-mafu, takes place this weekend from September 7 to 8 at the Miyako Messe, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and a few other venues. The entrance fee is 1000 yen (~ $10) for adults, but foreigners get in for free with a valid passport. To encourage local businesses in Kyoto and the Kansai region to collaborate with the manga and anime industries, the Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair plans to feature around 50 different types of special goods, including oil-absorbing facial paper, wooden key holders, book covers, folding fans, towels, iPhone cases, and more.

Via Asahi Shimbum.

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