Read some little flashbacks of the Showa era!
Japan’s retro Showa era (1926-1989) remains a nostalgic time for many, which explains why places like Showa-themed cafes remain popular. The same goes for vintage trinkets, like the ones our Japanese-language reporter Masami Kinoshita found on a recent shopping trip.
▼ These are real books, not just models.
It was a slouch machine that sells super small books. called mom honey (literally translated as “bean books”). These gained popularity among students in the 1950s to the point where you’d be hard-pressed to find a student without a bean-book keychain in her backpack.
▼ Masami was born in the Showa era, so she was super excited.
Although there were many trivia and fact books back then as they were meant to be speed read, these gacha bean books were actual short stories. The theme of each wasSurprise endings in 5 minutes“, meaning that each story was estimated to take just five minutes for the average Japanese person to read.
▼ It costs 500 yen (US$3.87) per book.
Each book in the machine represented a different genre.: red for a “nightmare” story, blue for mystery, black for humor (or maybe dark humor), and yellow for tragicomedy. Masami was personally intrigued by the mysterious blue book, so she prepared the required 500 yen to try her luck.
▼ This doesn’t look good anymore.
However, the first to come out was the yellow tragicomedy. When she tried again, he got the same result.
▼ Spoiler: He didn’t turn blue.
But the third try? She turned black. Then she turned red. So close…but then she got another red. It was then that she decided to quit after having spent a total of 2,500 yen.
▼ That in itself is a tragicomedy.
Although you can probably tell from the photos, these books are small, 5 by 3 centimeters (2 by 1.2 inches) each. But their biggest draw has to be that they look like full-size books despite their size.
▼ They even have little book covers!
Masami wasn’t sure what she was expecting as she opened one of the books to read, but her first thought was…
▼ “These letters are tiny…”
I would need some magnifying glasses to be able to read these long term. However, after a while, his eyes adjusted enough to allow her to read one of the books.
▼ That’s almost half an hour of reading material.
Just as the book title promised, he was able to finish reading the book in just under five minutes. They are perfect for when you have a little time to kill. The only complaint from him was that Showa-era customers who buy these can’t read them without some sort of visual aid.
▼ Let’s hope you have more luck than Masami to get the book you want.
But if you want to try handheld entertainment from the Showa era before the smartphone era, look for this machine in stores all over Japan!
Images © SoraNews24
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