Tat from the 90s that Japanese can’t believe were all the rage


Number 3 will shock you, as the clickbait is wont to say, but in this case “Kill it with fire” might actually be an appropriate response to more than one of these nostalgic items from the 90s that people cannot believe were popular.

Putting myself on the spot I’m mostly drawing a blank, so let’s get straight to the results:

1. Tamagotchi, 401 votes


This virtual pet came in an egg-shaped case. I remember the fuss over it when it came out and I fancied trying one out, but I never got round to it. It’s now available as an Android app, but it’s not free, and also not compatible with my phone. Oh well…

2. The 3 Dango Brothers, 179 votes

Metal version:

Another cover version:

This was just taking off when I arrived in Japan, and hearing the tune brings back these heady days of not-so-youthfulness.

3. Ganguro, Yamanba Girl, 146 votes

Apparently this is still doing the rounds as a sub-culture. These two look a little strange – well, stranger than usual; they look to be either/or in drag or westerners to me.

Ganguro gals

Note that the brown is usually the actual skin colour after weekly visits to the tanning salon

4. Platform boots, sandals, 145 votes

Just what it says, huge thick soles on boots and sandals, perhaps taking hints from the traditional dress of apprentice geisha as pictured here.

Walking Maiko

5. Men’s long hair, 141 votes

Men with long hair, just what it says. Next!

6=. Animal Fortune-Telling, 119 votes

Not horoscopes for cats, but looking up your chosen animal usually based on your birthday, then finding the predictions for the particular animal. This differs from the Chinese calendar-based 12 animals with one animal per year. I’ve got no suitable pictures, but instead a random fact: “Animal Fortune-Telling” (in Japanese) is a registered trademark of Noracom, whose home page has got the mission statement of “The science of fortune-telling”.

6=. Chaku-melo, ring tones, 119 votes

Back in the days of feature phones and sound being beeps rather than full voices, ring tones were all the rage, not just buying them but also composing them yourself. My first phone had that feature too, and I remember spending ages trying to get it to play “Flower of Scotland”, but a combination of lack of Japanese understanding and a total absence of musical ability, it never sounded right.

You all know what a phone looks like, so I’ll skip the photo here.

8. Peach-flavoured mineral water, 117 votes

Peach-flavoured mineral water, nothing more, nothing less. Here’s an advert:

9. Loose socks, 99 votes

These fuelled many a perv’s dreams:

By Nesnad投稿者自身による作品, CC 表示-継承 3.0, Link

10. Diet soap, 97 votes

Diet soap; wash away the pounds! It seems it was a thing in the west too, many, many years ago.

Obesity soap

Click the links below to see more.

Rank Votes
11=Seaman, a bizarre half-fish half-human virtual pet93
11=Battle pencil, which looks like a trading pencil game93
13Super Famicon, known as the SNES in the west93
14Furby, a talking robot86
15Where’s Wally?79
16Min-4WD, Japanese Scalextrix slot-car racing77
17Misanga, friendship bracelet76
18Kinder chocolate egg67
19ChibiT, which appears to be belly-button-exposing short T-shirts66
20Pokebell, or Pocket Bell, pager with text messaging57
21=Nata de Coco, jelly made from fermented coconut water56
21=G-SHOCK, watch brand from Casio that is still popular56
23Troll dolls49
24Dance Dance Revolution, still popular, still some slick moves46
25Sega Saturn console43
26AirMax 9542
27Portable MiniDisk Player41
29Juliana’s Tokyo, a famous disco that symbolised the decadence of the Bubble Era38
30Waffle Perm34
31=Shaggy, as in hair, apparently due to Jennifer Aniston’s character in Friends33
31=iMac, the original all-in-one transparent case33
33UFO Kamen Yakisoban, and its weird advert31
34Dancing Baby30
35dj honda caps, for some reason unknown to me29
36Barcode Battler, a handheld game with a barcode scanner for character power-ups, etc28
37Tessera hair care products25
38AIBO, Sony’s robot dog24
39Pekoe tea, and the obligatory advert23
40Nessie, the Loch Ness monster22
41=Panna Cotta20
43Chanel and Chanellers, people dressing head to toe in Chanel18
44Twist perm17
45=Angel Pocket, pocket-sized dolls house15
45=Belgian waffle15
47Grunge fashion12
48Vintage jeans10
49Shibu kaji, Shibuya casual, men’s fashion style consisting of blazer, polo shirt and loafers9


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