Goodbye Friendly “Mild Seven” Cigarettes; Hello “Mevius”!

Mild Seven cigarettes are no more to be found in the smoker’s paradise. Japan Tobacco Inc. changed the name of its flagship cigarette brand from “Mild Seven” to “Mevius” in a bid to expand its global market share and stopped selling Mild Seven cigarettes this week. In their heyday, they were the 5th best-selling cigarette in the world. As of today, there may still be a few Mom and Pop  stores carrying this iconic brand but better smoke’em  while you got them—soon they will vanish in a cloud of mild smoke.

Mild cigarettes are for wimps. Mild Seven, Sayonara! Hello, Mevius!
Mild cigarettes are for wimps. Mild Seven, Sayonara! Hello, Mevius!

Mild Seven launched circa 1977, was Japan’s  leading national brand of cigarettes with a 30 percent share of the domestic market. However, in recent years, the use of the word “mild” in the product’s name aroused controversy because it seemed to imply that the cigarettes were somehow less harmful than other brands. (I can remember when they were sold in cans,  and sometimes placed on the bar of a bar in a seedy part of Minato-ku. Kind of like free pretzels. I’d smoke them, because they were free–and always regret it.  Mild as menopause.)

Japan takes a very mild attitude towards smoking. Most life insurance companies neither penalize or reward smokers versus non-smokers. In other words, smoking in Japan doesn’t effect your life insurance payments either way in most cases. (If you don’t believe me, ask my life insurance representative.)

For those who are worried that their favorite cigarette is gone, fear not. The taste and composition  of the cigarette will remain unchanged and over the next 10 months, JT will gradually introduce the Mevius brand in international markets while solidifying brand recognition in Japan . According to JT, the company selected the Mevius name to maintain continuity with its predecessor: both include the letters “M” and “S.” JT did not consider changing the name to Masochistic Seven or do an about face and call it Harsh Seven. No one is sure what the Seven in Mild Seven really refers to, unless smoking is consider the mildest of the seven deadly sins. (We forget what the seven deadly sins are but certainly smoking must be amongst them. Any Catholics in the house?)

Mild Seven has been the best-selling cigarette brand in Japan since 1978. Japanese sales top 1 trillion yen and are sold in Russia, South Korean, Taiwan and over ten more countries. Last year, there were 76,500,000,000 Mild Seven cigarettes sold.  That’s a lot of coffin nails.  Will Mevius do as much damage to the lungs of the world as Mild Seven? Japan Tobacco is waiting for that answer with bated breath…or waiting slightly short of breath, from smoking too many Mevius Menthol Lights. 

One question still remains: what the hell does Mevius mean or stand for? One explanation is that M is for Mild, EV is for evolution, I is for “I”,  U is for “You” the consumer, and S is for Seven.  But that isn’t funny enough. The person who gives the most plausible and amusing answer wins an original pack of rare Mild Seven cigarettes. The loser gets a pack of Mevius. We’re anxious to hear your thoughts.

The Best Articles About Japan 2012 (on our blog) :D

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 9.15.01Dear Gentle Reader,

All of us at Japan Subculture Research Center would like to thank you for your  reading the articles posted here this last year, your contributions, and your comments. Here are some of the articles we thought were the most amusing, edifying, or just fun, grouped together in general order.  We had some outstanding outside contributions which made for some excellent reading–and to those contributors thank you as well. Whether you’re interested in Japanese culture or pop-culture, Japan’s nuclear problems, or yakuza and the Japanese underworld—there’s something for everyone.  Enjoy!

Just For Fun

It’s a fuckin sale! 

 

A little English goes a rong way
A little English goes a rong way

 

The most read piece we posted last year. And the one we put the least amount of effort into.

Young Japanese Men and Women Reject Marriage, and Ultimately Each Other : Japan Subculture Research Center

Love: Japan style.

The Tears of a Cat: Hello Kitty’s Guide to Japan, English and Japanese/ ハローティの英語で紹介する : Japan Subculture Research Center

Hello Kitty is an international refugee?

British or Japanese?
British or Japanese?

“You would be cute, IF you had a tiny face.” Japanese facial corset promises cuteness in just 3 minutes! : Japan Subculture Research Center

The most painful article ever.

Cara

Let’s Convenience Store! The Musical: コンビニへ行こう! : Japan Subculture Research Center

A great piece by Mr. Noah-sama, a contributor to the blog. The best of Japanese life.

Coffee & Cigarettes Together At Last : Speak Lark, Drink up : Japan Subculture Research Center

What could be better? Manju and Green Tea? I think not.

Facebook Is Stalking You, Baby. (Notes From The Uncanny Valley, Japan) : Japan Subculture Research Center

How are we feeling today? A little paranoid, perhaps. Maybe not.

The Fallout from 3/11 and Japan’s nuclear industry 

Another photo of the now famous Fukushima ostrich (2011) photo: Naoto Matsumura
Another photo of the now famous Fukushima ostrich (2011) photo: Naoto Matsumura

The Buddha of Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone: A Photo Essay : Japan Subculture Research Center

A tribute to one man who will not go quietly.

Independent Commission on Nuclear Accident: Earthquake, TEPCO negligence, Myth of Safety Caused Meltdown : Japan Subculture Research Center

We hope someone in the Japanese government is paying attention.

The Melting Sun: Japan’s Nuclear Follies : Japan Subculture Research Center

History not only repeats itself, sometimes it predicts the future. A long essay on Japan’s nuclear industry by Professor Jeff Kingston worth reading.

Japan’s historical anti-nuclear protest on July 29th, 2012, a photo essay : Japan Subculture Research Center

The protest movement is heard.  The follow up is here on The Daily Beast.  Nuclear Power Protests In Japan Are Finally Heard. 

Every Friday night thousands gather to call for an end to nuclear power in Japan.
Every Friday night thousands gather to call for an end to nuclear power in Japan.
Misao Redwolf working with the police to keep the protests peaceful.
Misao Redwolf working with the police to keep the protests peaceful.

The Underworld and The Yakuza

The Last Yakuza: A Life In The Japanese Underworld coming in 2014 : Japan Subculture Research Center

I know–total self-promotion. What else do you think pays the costs of running this labor of love? Book sales, some donations, and whatever else I can scrounge up. All that aside, I’m hoping this will be a good read with a moral to the tale. All good stories have something to teach.

The Centers For the Elimination of Organized Crime will be able to launch legal proceedings to shut down yakuza offices under the new laws, if the group is designated "extremely dangerous."
The Centers For the Elimination of Organized Crime will be able to launch legal proceedings to shut down yakuza offices under the new laws, if the group is designated “extremely dangerous.”

The $1,000 Pineapple. Japanese Police Offer Rewards For Hand Grenades : Japan Subculture Research Center

Those Southern Yakuza are pretty ornery!

Yakuza Go On The Record About 3/11 Relief Efforts In July Fanzine (実話時代) : Japan Subculture Research Center

When I wrote about this in 2011, it was a taboo. Not anymore. Sometimes even the bad guys do good things.

Yakuza Comix: An Illustrated Guide To The Front Company フロント企業図解 : Japan Subculture Research Center

Pictures and words

Yakuza Comix #2: The Buck Stops With The Boss : Japan Subculture Research Center

It’s not easy being a yakuza chief these days.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know In Life I Learned From the Yakuza or The Cops That Kick Their Ass in 7 Lessons : Japan Subculture Research Center

Live and learn. Sometimes we die and learn.

On Modern Slavery: Thoughts on Human Trafficking : Japan Subculture Research Center

Published posthumously. Michiel Brandt, rest in peace.

Little Mermaids & Little Fingers: An illustrated yakuza tale : Japan Subculture Research Center

Even Yakuza have kids and sometimes try to be good fathers.

Yakuza blues
Yakuza blues

 

Meet Japan’s Nuclear Mafia: Yakuza, deadbeats, and security risks welcome

TEPCO and the Yakuza
TEPCO and the Yakuza

 

 

Japanese Culture and Cultural Events from 2012

Along the Tamagawa 多摩川 today, the cherry blossoms reached full bloom. (April 15th 2012)
Along the Tamagawa 多摩川 today, the cherry blossoms reached full bloom. (April 15th 2012)

Sakura Time 2012: A photo journey of Tokyo’s awesome cherry blossom viewing : Japan Subculture Research Center

The beauty of April in Japan.

Sakura! 桜!
Sakura! 桜!

Graduation Day: Goodbye to 虐め (いじめ)? : Japan Subculture Research Center

“Ijime” bullying is a part of the culture. Unfortunately.

O-bon: Festival of The Dead or “Please Feed The Hungry Ghosts Day” : Japan Subculture Research Center

Halloween in Japan–in the traditional sense.

Annular Eclipse: After 173 Years A Dark Sun Rise In The Land Of The Rising Sun : Japan Subculture Research Center

Do we have to wait another 173 years? There are some great photos here.

577380_10151146835069392_580184391_13484938_553449978_n-1

Journalism In Japan (and the world) 

Jake, I know that you're planning to log off and I'm afraid I can't let that happen. And how are you feeling, today?
Our lawyers are watching you.

Protecting Sources & Risking Lives: The Ethical Dilemmas of Japanese Journalism : Japan Subculture Research Center

Why we are reluctant to use the names of our sources in Japan–and for good reason.

The Trial Of Minoru Tanaka: The high cost of investigative journalism in Japan & “the nuclear mafia” : Japan Subculture Research Center

Do you want to be an investigative journalist in Japan? You’ll need a good lawyer. Increasingly, litigation is used to shut up voices of dissent.

The Journo Blues: A Song Inspired By Arianna Huffington : Japan Subculture Research Center

The HuffPost and Google News have started to turn the business into a con game–the con being that “exposure” will get you a real job as a journalist. Better think twice on that. If journalism is your calling, you may need to have a second job.

Meet the Rupert Murdoch of Japan: Tsuneo Watanabe

 

 

Musings

Ray Bradbury, Journalism & Mr. Dark. “You can’t act if you don’t know.” : Japan Subculture Research Center

Yes, Ray Bradbury was a novelist but sometimes people can say greater truths in fiction than they can in an essay. I was sad to see him go and this is my small essay on what I find inspiring in his best novel, as a journalist, and as a father.

スクリーンショット 2012-06-07 22.48.18

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee & Cigarettes Together At Last : Speak Lark, Drink up

Any hard-boiled journalist or cop will tell you that coffee and cigarettes go well together. So I guess it was a stroke of marketing genius for Philip Morris to team up with Tully’s Coffee and offer a can of Tully’s Barista Blend Royal Presso with every 410 yen pack of Premium Quality Lark Cigarettes. Available in 3 varieties of lethalness. 6mg, 3mg, 1mg. Smooth, soft, and light. They even have the coffee packaged with the cigarette pack itself–just carry it to the register and you’re ready to go.

It’s almost perfect marketing except for the fact that the coffee is lukewarm when you get your cigs. I don’t know about you, but I either want my coffee hot or ice cold. Lukewarm coffee is like the Democratic Party of Japan–somewhere between the Socialist Party and the LDP and just plain sucky. Lark has customized the cigarettes with the slogan, “あなたに似合う味わいを” anata ni niau ajiwai wo—“(have) the taste that best matches you.”

410 yen gets you a pack of cigarettes (LARK) and a can of coffee. Or 410 yen gets you a can of coffee and a pack of cigarettes. Great deal!

 

Unfortunately, for me, Lark does not offer a “燃え尽きたきつい苦みの味わい” (moetsukita kitsui nigami) –“burnt out harshly bitter” flavor. I feel like my demographic has been ignored. This means I’ll have to stick to either not-smoking or find a vending machine somewhere that sells my old favorites.

LARK has always been innovative in its marketing. Years ago, it had a hit with Timothy Dalton aka James Bond, smoking their brand and intoning in a deep baritone voice, “Speak Lark” after dispensing with the usual non-smoking evil villain. We never had any idea what it meant but it resonated just the same. This campaign also seems to be a surefire hit. If you think about it, the combination of coffee and cigarettes in Japan actually makes a lot of sense. Once upon a time, instead of saying “smoke cigarettes” people actually said “drink cigarettes” (煙草をのむ).

It could be a trivia question someday. “Name two stimulants in Japan you can ‘drink'”. For just 410 yen, you have the answer.