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Wearable 'Tax Hike Glasses' are Surging in Sales for Party Season

Initially marketed for Halloween, the secret of the hand-crafted "tax hike glasses" lies in the political parody of "tax" and "party" this holiday season.

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The "tax hike glasses" shown here are party goods marketed by Sawada Platec Co. (Courtesy of the Sawada.)

Just as the term "tax hike glasses," has been spreading, the sales of real-life tax hike glasses have also been on the rise. This, of course, refers to the nickname given to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. If you're wondering why, it's because the public thinks he has an eye on raising taxes

At the same time, this refers to cute eyeglasses that anyone can wear. They were put on sale in late October as Halloween party goods. However, this humorous eyewear resembling a toy started selling explosively in early December. 

One of the major factors behind the phenomenon is "tax." The kanji character for tax (税) was chosen by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation as the kanji representative for 2023. 

Another reason is that the word "party" has emerged as another keyword of the moment. This one follows the revelation of scandals involving fundraising parties of factions within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Combined with the year-end party season, the real-life "tax hike glasses" have become an unforeseen hit.    

Liberal Democratic Party headquarters building. (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

No 'Political Intentions'

The version of tax hike glasses that are on sale costs about ¥1,500 JPY (around $10.60 USD) per unit. They are sold exclusively on the web by Sawada Platec Co, an acrylic processing business based in Saitama Prefecture. 

Made of acrylic, the glasses have no lenses or specific "political intentions" in their design. The disclaimer states, "As this product does not consider comfort when worn, please be well aware that the character of 税, especially , part of 税, may weigh heavily on the bridge of the nose." emphasizing its nature as a party item.

New Side to its Main Business

According to a Sawada Platec spokesperson, the company's main business is the manufacture and sale of acrylic shelves and displays. The real-life tax hike glasses are the first of the firm's originally produced alternative products. They were launched this year when Sawada opened an online shopping app through Amazon.

"We think the term 'zozei megane' (tax hike glasses) sounds amusing, so we created the prototype. Initially, we expected that we would sell around 10 pairs," said the spokesperson. 

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Sawada Platec acrylic products in colors (Courtesy of Sawada Platec website)

Indeed, they did not sell well during the Halloween season. However, orders for the eyewear began pouring in starting the week of December 10. 

From that point, the company was nearly inundated as several hundred orders came in and they struggled to fulfill the shipments.

Handcrafted Glasses Jumpstart New Creativity

Although they are party goods, the tax hike glasses are meticulously handcrafted one by one. The company's skilled artisans laser-cut acrylic sheets into pieces and assemble them. "We have about 20 craftsmen, but we can only make about 50 a day," said the spokesman. 

He then apologized. "Our customers must wait because we need to balance this with our main line of business in the busy season at the end of the year."Toward the end of the year, he said, the company is operating at full capacity to handle orders.

Customer requests have also come in for derivative products, it seems. Some suggested making the tax hike glasses a series by adding products such as 'tax evasion glasses" and 'tax increase crap glasses." However, the company says it has no plans to adopt such ideas at this stage. 

Nevertheless, the spokesperson noted the company's enthusiasm for creating unique and interesting products in the future. 'We want more people to have more opportunities to know that Sawada Platec is a company that can create unique products," he stated. 

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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