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Keitai Culture

During a recent trip to Japan, I masqueraded in the densely populated streets hoping to dig into Japanese culture. As I walked around the Shibuya borough of Tokyo, I couldn’t help but uncover a unique part of Japanese consumer culture. Whether young or old, male or female, there was a rich display of keitai (cell phone) culture.
The Japanese have commodified all areas of the device, from antennae covers, wristbands, stickers, faceplates, phone covers and carrying cases. The most prevalent accessory is the wrist strap. This is an important cell phone add-on used while talking on the phone in high traffic situations or simply carrying the phone nonchalantly. Most straps are approximately 5 –10 inches and some are longer than the actual phone.

For those who have a predisposition for dropping phones, the Japanese have solved your mishaps. A fashion remedy awaits your cell phone blemish. Stickers and band-aids are top shelf items in the accessory department. Scrapes, scratches, dings, and boo-boos only add more flavah to your phone. Transparent colored plastic will suture the L.E.D. display and thematic band aids come in various size and shapes to cover your dial pad.

Another unique accessory to the Japanese is antennae covers. These attach nicely to the top of your antennae like a pencil eraser. They come in various sizes depending on your penchant for gaudiness. If these aren’t enough flash for you, some are made of clear plastic and blink once an incoming line is received. However, the added bling-bling might cost you a little more.
Returning back to the States, I was curious to see if keitai kitch permeated across the Pacific. Wandering the streets of San Francisco it was apparent that we suffer from the same cell phone dependence syndrome as the Japanese. But have we gone the extra step and made it tragically hip? Have we moved beyond uncouth belt clips or bourgeois Louis Vuitton cell phone covers?

Sadly, San Francisco lacked the cell phone accoutrements that were heavily prevalent in the streets of Tokyo. I had to search high and low but managed to find a few stores to trick out your wireless device. Not surprisingly, many of the stores catered to an Asian clientele who have a penchant for keitai culture. Japantown’s Moritaya
rivals any store from the motherland with Hello Kitty phone straps and Godzilla face plates. If you’re searching for blinking antennas or LED batteries, look no further. Tokyo Motortrenz can help you mod your phone and make it blink like the Las Vegas strip.

As I walked the streets of San Francisco, I was reminded of how unique keitai culture is. Not only are Tokyoites ahead of the pack in terms of cell phone technology, but also in terms of wireless ornamentation. Cell phones begin to take on a life of themselves, morphing into their owner’s persona. In a sense, dipping into keitai kitch was as important as owning the phone itself. Contrary to what one might think, cell phones in Japan aren’t just for keeping close in touch. It’s a visual showcase of your vanity fair