In the past few weeks, the international media has been reporting on a Japanese pillow that's shaped like a woman's lap. It's being sold at Narita Airport, outside Tokyo, and the foreign press is lapping the pillow up and claiming it's experiencing a resurgence. But is it really?
Dubbed the "Hizamakura" ("lap pillow"), it originally went on sale in late 2004 — nearly 10 years ago. That's when the above photo was taken.
Earlier this August, Cheapflights.co.uk noted that the Hizamakura from Trane, a toy train maker, was available for purchase at Narita Airport. So, one shop in an airport has a product. Well, OK. That sounds incredibly thin.
The Daily Mail inevitably covered it and published the above image. Several popular websites like The Huffington Post and News.com.au covered it, too. Even ABC News covered it. These articles also seem to have inspired some Chinese press coverage in People's Daily, which says the pillows launched in 2000 (it was 2004, but whatevs), but add that they are enjoying renewed popularity.
Likewise, other foreign news outlets claimed the pillow was once again popular, and The Huffington Post added that the Trane lap pillow "appears to be sold out on Amazon.jp". ABC News said it was "creepy" and "weird".
Kotaku contacted the pillow's Tokyo-based manufacturer, Trane "The Hizamakura is no longer being manufactured," a Trane spokesperson told Kotaku over the phone. "It stopped being produced five years ago." Five years ago!
So, yes, there was a "lap pillow" Trane released way back in 2004. It was a novelty item, more than anything — and seemingly not successful enough to warrant continued production. Yet, here we are in 2013.
But hey, some duty free shop is carrying some remaining inventory, and perhaps, foreigners are buying it as a joke — or maybe they are buying other pillows. Or maybe these three lap pillow boxes are just sitting there at an airport gift shop, and foreigners are looking at those boxes and going, "What the...?" Like I said, this is all pretty thin!
When asked if Trane knew of this renewed lap pillow interest, especially the online news articles, the spokesperson said, "Right now, this is the first I've heard of it."
Photo: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty