Japanese consumers and marketers alike certainly love their ヒット商品 (hitto shōhin, hit products). To understand how this term came about, we need to look back to the decade following World War II. When living standards gradually began to improve from the early 1950s, Japanese consumers eagerly snapped up home appliances. As a condition for marriage, new brides demanded a home supplied with 白黒テレビ (shirokuro terebi, black-and-white TV), 洗濯機 (sentakuki, washing machine) and 冷蔵庫 (reizōko, refrigerator). These became referred to as 三種の神器 (sanshu no jingi, the three sacred treasures), which was a humorous allusion to the mirror, sword and jewel that were presented to Japan’s ancient emperors during the imperial enthronement ceremony.

By the early 1960s, the era known as 高度経済成長期 (kōdo keizai seichō-ki, period of high economic growth), the previous “must-haves” had been replaced by the “Three C’s,” カー ( car), クーラー (kūrā, cooler, i.e., air conditioner) and カラーテレビ (karā terebi, color television).

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