Read some small flashbacks of the The Showa era!
Japan’s retro Showa era (1926-1989) is still a nostalgic time for many, which is why places like Showa themed cafes are still popular. The same goes for vintage trinkets, like those our Japanese reporter Masami Kinoshita found on a recent shopping spree.
▼ These are real books, not just models.
It was a gacha machine that sold super tiny books called Dear Mum (literally translated as “pounds of beans”). These grew in popularity with students in the 1950s to the point where you would be hard pressed to find a student without a bean book keychain on their backpack.
▼ Masami was born in the Showa era, so she was super excited.
Although there were a lot of quizzes and information books back then, because they were meant to be read quickly, these gacha bean books were real news. The theme for each was “Surprise endings in 5 minutes“, meaning each story was estimated to take just five minutes for the average Japanese person to read.
▼ It costs 500 yen (3.87 USD) per book.
Each book in the machine represented a different genre: red for a “nightmare” story, blue for mystery, black for humor (or black humor, perhaps), and yellow for tragicomedy. Masami was personally intrigued by the mysterious blue book, so she prepared the necessary 500 yen to try her luck.
▼ It’s already not looking good.
However, the first one that came out was the tragicomedy yellow. When she tried again, she got the same result.
▼ Spoiler: it didn’t turn blue.
But the third try? She turned black. Then it turned red. So close…but then she got another red. That’s when she decided to quit after spending a total of 2,500 yen.
▼ It is in itself a tragicomedy.
Although you can probably tell by the photos, these books are tiny at 5 by 3 centimeters (2 by 1.2 inches) each. But their biggest point of attraction has to be that they look like full-size books despite their size.
▼ They even have tiny book sleeves!
Masami wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she opened one of the books to read it, but her first thought was…
▼ “These letters are lowercase…”
She would need magnifying glasses to be able to read them long term. After a short while, however, his eyes adjusted enough to allow him to read one of the books.
▼ That’s almost half an hour of reading.
Just as the title of the book had promised, she was able to finish reading the book by just under five minutes. They are perfect when you have a little time to kill. His only complaint was that Showa-era customers who buy them might not be able to read them without some sort of visual aid.
▼ Hope you have better luck than Masami in getting the book you want.
But if you want a taste of Showa-era portable entertainment before the smartphone era, look for this machine in stores across Japan!