This Japanese Snack Will Become a Universal Translator

Want a wearable snack? You’ve got your wish: Japan’s Meiji announced it’ll make AI-powered headphones shaped after its treat Kinoko no Yama.

Unseen Japan

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By Jay Allen

Meiji headphones

Ever see a snack and thought to yourself, “I can see myself wearing that”? If so, then the latest product from Meiji in Japan is a perfect fit for you. The versatile company announced this week that it would turn its iconic treat, Kinoko no Yama, into a set of headphones. What’s more, the company wants the product to make global communication easier — and is using AI technology to pull it off.

The great Kinoko war

Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato
Picture: mirai4192 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

This isn’t the first time Meiji’s found a clever way to draw attention to its products. Indeed, Kinoko no Yama has a history of clever promotions.

Meiji created Kinoko no Yama (きのこの山; Mushroom Mountain), a snack sporting a chocolate mushroom-shaped hat on a cracker stem, in 1975. Kinoko got a sibling a few years later with Takenoko no Sato (たけのこの里; Bamboo Village), a chocolate-coated, cone-shaped cookie. Both snacks were tremendously popular for years.

But in 2001, sales of both products dwindled. So Meiji came up with the clever idea to pit the two snacks against each other in a popular vote. The vote became a perennial fan favorite and is known in popular lingo as The Kinoko-Takenoko War (きのこたけのこ戦争; kinoko takenoko senso).

For a number of years, Kinoko won the battle between the two candies. But in the past several years, Takenoko has come out on top.

That hasn’t stopped Kinoko from continuing to enjoy brisk sales. however. The treat also enjoyed another burst of popularity this summer when Meiji released a chocolate-free version with just the cracker stems. The marketing ploy was a nod to Japan’s record-setting sweltering summer.

The snack you can wear

This year, in July, Meiji staged another marketing ploy. It asked designer Michiru (@mitiruxxx on X) to…

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