Tuesday, October 10, 2006
There are two kinds of freebies in Japan. One is the same type you get in the U.S., the kind that come attached to products. The picture above is of some magnetized cow clips which come on cartons of cream. As you can see, they come in their own little plastic barn. ;-) This is actually one of the more utilitarian freebies since they stick to the fridge and you can clip little notes on them or you can use them to hold smallish plastic bags closed.
In the past, some of the freebies we've gotten have been relatively collectable. In fact, we've sold some of the little Disney-themed doodads on eBay. Coca-cola put little plastic fish in bags around the necks of Diet Coke when "Finding Nemo" came out. We buy Diet Coke anyway so we tossed them in a pile and offered them up for auction. Disney-themed items are particularly collectable if they are Japan-only, as are Coca-Cola items.
The other type of freebie, and I don't know if cities in the U.S. do this, are the packets of samples or items with advertising attached to them which are handed out on the streets. The Shinjuku area is one of the better places to get these types of freebies because the people who distribute them like to be near a hub of high activity. The most common freebie is a packet of pocket tissues with an ad in the back. In fact, if you work somewhere with a big station, you may never need to buy tissues again if you're willing to put up with the variety which resembles newspaper in texture.
You also find that sometimes little food or personal care samples are given out though the latter seems to be selectively handed to people. For instance, hand lotion or shampoo and conditioner samples will often only be given to women. Sometimes the distributors won't give the samples to foreigners. My husband and I have passed by many people who don't even stick a hand out to offer an item to us. I guess this is because they feel we can't read the advertisements that come with them.
The packet above is maple and honey-flavored "all-bran crisp". It was little triangle-shaped crackers that are supposed to be full of fibery goodness. I've actually purchased this product before in an almost identical form except it was in a packet which was bar shaped. They're pretty good though really too full of sugar to be too good for you.