The toy show will take place at the capital's Big Sight convention center in Koto Ward through the weekend. Organizers say this year a record 153 toy makers and companies are scheduled to present the latest collections of toys, robots, gadgets and other forms of family entertainment.
"Just come to the event and take a stroll -- you'll get a quick look at what the upcoming trends in
During its 52-year history, the toy show has broadened its entertainment roster and now includes demonstrations of the latest products, acrobatic stage shows by fictional superheroes and photo opportunities with anime characters.
On Tuesday, a total of 35 toy products were announced as prize-winners in this year's Japan Toy Award competition, all of which will be showcased at the toy show. The products were divided into seven categories, which included best educational toy, character-related toy and innovative toy.
One area of Big Sight will be designated as a "kids life zone," where a hodgepodge of corporations and NPOs hope to educate visitors on ways to enrich or improve their children's quality of life.
Although the event touts itself as child-friendly, Ibuki stresses that organizers have tried to cater to all age groups.
"Pretty much everyone can enjoy it," he says. "On display are the whole gamut of toys from the traditional to the state-of-the-art, with every single one of them being unique."
The event and domestic toy makers are desperately seeking to broaden their consumer base to include adults as the number of children in
But while the base is shrinking, the diversity of the event's roster of products is expanding. Around 35,000 items will be on display -- so many that it's hard to narrow in on any specific trends this year, according to Ibuki. However, he reels off some buzzwords currently making the rounds.
One of those is "technology," perhaps best summed up by the array of smartphones and tablet devices specifically made for children. Toy makers have been trying to create gadgets that look like smartphones for the past few years. According to Ibuki, though, the devices this year are of much higher quality, so skillfully crafted that they are barely distinguishable from the smartphones typically used by adults.
One example is Fairisia, developed by
While Fairisia hopes to cater to tween girls yearning to emulate their older sisters and mothers, Itagaki says the product is carefully designed to ease the concerns of parents, too. The toy includes built-in controls that allow guardians to keep an eye on the websites and apps their children access.
"In a way, Fairisia achieves a delicate balance between exciting the kids and comforting their parents," Itagaki says.
Boasting a new projection-mapping feature, the Bandai Hako Vision promises to stand out among toy tech offerings at the show. The box is essentially a shokugan, a small toy that often comes packaged with candy sold at convenience stores. It's a palm-sized cardboard box that displays 3-D images, and is being hailed as an example of
How it works is simple: Read a code printed on the side of the box using a smartphone; then place the device upside-down atop the box and a downloaded 3-D image will appear.
The past two versions of the Hako Vision series featured the
Tech toys won't be the only thing that gets visitors excited at the toy show: There will be an anime element that should attract many manga fans. Over the weekend, a slew of prominent characters are set to appear and perform for the crowds. One highlight is likely to be "Yokai Watch," which is currently a popular anime series on television. It was originally a video game that came out last year.
"Yokai Watch" features an 11-year-old schoolboy named Keita who fights and befriends a host of yokai (ghosts) overrunning his hometown. The video game was developed by
"People go to toy stores looking for the show's related items, only to find a column of empty shelves instead," Ibuki says. Although the show primarily targets elementary school boys, he adds, "It's not rare at all to see much older people, such as university students and businessmen, crowding toy shops in, say, Akihabara to play the arcade-game version of the show."
There will also be a dose of nostalgia at the event when heroes from "Ultraman," "Kamen Rider" and older TV kids' shows take to the stage. By visiting booths set up by the participating firms, visitors will be able to take photos with other memorable characters, such as Anpanman and Hello Kitty.
The toy show's organizers are hoping the technology-driven toys and stage shows will resonate with visitors from abroad as well -- as does Hakuhinkan Toy Park Ginza.
Kobori, a self-acknowledged avid fan of the toy show, tries to boil down the allure.
"Every time I go, there are new discoveries," she says. "You visit each booth, and you can play with the toys displayed there ahead of their public release. I kind of go there as part of my job, but often I end up feeling like a kid again."
The International Tokyo Toy Show takes place at
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