Van Gogh's Onion Soup, Sushiro Without Conveyor Belts , and Cassette Tape Recorder


Van Gogh’s Onion Soup

I’ve always loved pairing soup with rice, and recently, I’ve become a fan of Soup Stock Tokyo. This place serves freshly cooked soups every day and caters to women who prefer to dine alone. Although I don’t necessarily need a place to eat alone, this shop makes me feel healthier than stuffing myself with large portions of rice or noodles.

Their marketing campaigns are as artistic as their soups:

“Van Gogh with Onions, what soup did he drink at old time?”: This is a rich onion soup made from pureed onions.

“What was daily life like 350 years ago when Vermeer discovered beauty?”: This is a thick milk-based soup with Ghouda cheese, served with some bread.

I assume the marketers here might have visited the Vermeer exhibition in the Netherlands this year. It’s intriguing to think about the extraordinary inspiration that led them to create an onion soup inspired by Van Gogh and a creamy milk soup reminiscent of Vermeer’s art.

When I tasted the soup, memories of my life back in the Netherlands washed over me, making it feel like a journey to a completely different world.

Sushiro, the Sushi Chain Without The Use of Conveyor Belts

Originally, I planned to visit Midori (a well-known Sushi shop) right after I arrived in Japan. I couldn’t make it in time for some reason and ended up going to Sushiro near Shinjuku instead. After all, isn’t Sushiro, Kura Sushi, and Hama Sushi all equally delicious? (Pick One!)

After being assigned a seat (In this context, it’s done through a machine rather than a server guiding you to a seat), I picked up the tablet on the table. A few minutes later, after the green tea had brewed, the Negi Toro arrived. It was at that moment I recalled the genuine reason I enjoyed conveyor belt sushi.

Because there are no longer attendants to call out and guide customers to their seats, you must first obtain a number ticket from the entrance’s waiting machine. When it’s your turn, you can then scan the QR code on the number ticket using another machine to receive your seat assignment and proceed to your seat on your own.

An advertising truck repeatedly played the message “When you have free time, you want to bet on keirin.” Even though I had no idea what keirin was, the advertising jingle was so catchy that I couldn’t help but look it up:

Watch the Video

Ah, keirin is a form of gambling, just like horse racing.

The conveyor belt at Sushiro continued to turn, with only a few scattered advertisements cards(signs?) remaining. After a few minutes, I finally realized that no sushi would be coming my way. The conveyor belt was just for show, and you had to order whatever you wanted yourself from the tablet.

Then you know, there is no way to make excuses now. I couldn’t say the shrimp sushi was brought to me; I couldn’t say there was only one plate of fried pumpkin left, so who should take it - Me! And of course, there was no more of that psychological game of “Oh, just one more plate, and it’s just the right price.”

Sushi that arrived in front of me, plate by plate on the conveyor belt, has always shown as a psychological Trigger. Motivation and Capability(Ability) were both there. So,just pick it up! I, someone who could be influenced quite easily, didn’t only fulfill my food cravings at the conveyor belt sushi restaurant. I also satisfied my emotional desires because there aren’t many situations where you’re influenced by marketing or advertising and can make a purchase instantly.

But now I couldn’t just sit down and pick up my favorite Negi Toro immediately, nor was it fun to pick up a tablet to order. I had to manually select the items fromt the tablet that supposely would pass in front of me……

Negi Toro

This time when they arrived, they didn’t taste as good as they used to.

Next time, I’ll go a bit further to Midori for sure.

Cassette Tape Recorder

One day, after having dinner in Shibuya and wishing to continue our conversation, we casually entered a cafe. When we sat down, I immediately noticed some intriguing items displayed on the table:

It was a cassette tape recorder that, besides the usual tape recording and playback, had built-in Bluetooth, probably serving as a speaker as well.

That day was a small gathering of product manager, and I couldn’t help but quickly discuss with another PM friend that why such a product was made. The core value of this product was, of course, not the latest technology. Upon closer examination of the specs, it seemed to be a pursuit of nostalgia, with the addition of Bluetooth and USB charging to bring in modern convience.

Interestingly, the store only had demo units of these cassette on display without prices, but based on the product’s value and target audience, the price range we came up with wasn’t far from the actual price. (Yeah! XD)

Some people say the Japanese are known for having a lot of “wild ideas.” While it may sound negative, it’s actually a compliment. Many bizzare and wonderful products in Japan make you wonder if the features really necessary, or…worth to exist. I often wonder whether the companies that produce these types of products have a lot of money or a lot of courage.

But precisely because of this courage, the world is so interesting. In many practical environments, creative ideas are not lacking, but the challenge lies in actually signing off on them, and the ability to persevere the idea, without being discouraged by questions like “Is it really necessary?” (I mean, we often ponder this even when we clearly see the needs or might be missing out on potential opportunities.)

Lately, I often say that if you want to do something, it’s likely someone has already done it. However,regardless of the competition’s existence, I still rather just go ahead and do it. I think the key is still in execution and the passion to sustain it.

After all, in 2023, someone has already revived the cassette tape recorder, right?

When I was younger, I often listened to the radio for hours while reading novels, silently waiting for my favorite songs to play, with the cassette tape ready to record at any moment. (Hey, cassette is not that old fashion!!!I’m still in my early 30s…:P)

It’s funny because I rarely listened to what I had recorded, just like how I give a thumbs-up on Netflix but never actually watch anything.

I recently reactivated my Netflix account, marking a fresh start once again.

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