Last week’s post was about Yakushima (やくしま / 屋久島), so this week I need to start with ま (ma). I decided to write about…
Mameshiba (まめしば / 豆しば)
So, what exactly is Mameshiba? According to the official English website for Mameshiba:
They’re not quite a bean nor a dog but rather a hybrid of both. They love to appear out of nowhere and offer random bits of trivia whether you asked for it or not…
Still not sure what Mameshiba is? Let’s turn to Wikipedia:
Mameshiba is a Japanese merchandise franchise created by copywriter and Korean Japanese national Kim Sukwon. The Mameshiba are different varieties of beans (and other legumes) that have dog-like faces and tell trivia. Their name derives from a series of puns. The Japanese word for “bean” is mame (豆), a toy version of the Shiba Inu is a mameshiba (豆柴), and the Japanese word for “trivia” is mamechishiki (豆知識, literally “beans of knowledge”). Mameshiba became popular through a series of animated interstitials produced by Dentsu that were sold to Japanese television networks to air instead of commercials. Their popularity in Japan and Asia eventually led to their release in the United States via Viz Media and Hot Topic.
When I was living in Japan, I often went to “fancy goods” stores such as Tokyu Hands and Loft. It was in these stores that I discovered Mameshiba. Basically, as Wiki says, they’re bean characters with dog-like faces. And boy are they cute!
I tried to stop myself from buying too many toys and silly items when I was in Japan (tried, but didn’t always succeed), so with Mameshiba I satisfied my craving for kawaii by buying Mameshiba branded snacks:
There are lots of Mameshiba videos on YouTube, and they have English subtitles (although the Japanese is pretty easy to understand too). In the videos, the bean characters pop up in random places and share odd little bits of trivia. Here are a few of my favourites:
There are lots of different Mameshiba characters, based on different kinds of beans (and nuts). Each character has a name and a little bio on the Mameshiba website. For example, this is Chili Bean’s profile:
Mameshiba has been released in the US, but I don’t think it has made its way over to the UK yet, which is a shame. Cute characters seem to be really popular here at the moment (judging by the success of Moshi Monsters, by British company Mind Candy), and I’m sure Mameshiba would go down well!
Mameshiba (まめしば) ends with ば (ba), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “ba”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below! And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v