With JAL on the rocks and Wendy’s closed for good, it might seem that 2010 has not had an auspicious start. But instead of kicking themselves, some Japanese businesses have decided to kick-start the new year of commerce with a slew of inventive giveaways and competitions.
Sapporo’s nationwide janken (rock, scissors, paper) competition, for example, had a first prize of ¥10 million (roughly $100,000), with 100,000 cases of Sapporo beer available for runners-up. Janken is not only popular with children in Japan, it’s also a popular game with adults and in fact started out as a drinking game. If you’d like to try your hand at an adult janken competition, Taiko Chaya, an izakaya in Tokyo has nightly janken tournaments open to all customers.
Sapporo’s competition closed Jan. 3, but there are other enticing offers still available. Toho Cinemas have dreamed up a great way to make the best use of your nengajo (New Year’s postcards). Most nengajo come printed with numbers that qualify recipients for a national lottery. The winning numbers are announced on Jan. 24. If you happen to have nengajo with the last digits of either 1 or 4, you can watch any movie at Toho Cinemas between Jan. 9 and Feb. 28 for the bargain price of ¥1,000 (but viewing 3-D movies will cost you an extra ¥300).
If you’re in a mood for a burger after your discount movie, then head to Lotteria. Selected set meals come with the opportunity to enter their New Year’s competition. Lucky winners will get the price of their entire meal refunded; those not so lucky get a deduction of ¥100 or ¥50. There’s also a great booby prize of a kimchee shake for those who draw the short straw. Kimchee is spicy Korean dish that is popular in Japan but it’s hard to imagine anyone actually enjoying it in a creamy liquid form. Or perhaps you would, if you’re the masochistic type.