The Japanese Girlfriend Pillow Resurfaces (Or Does It?)

In the past few weeks, the international media has been reporting on a Japanese pillow that's shaped like a woman's lap. It's being sold at Narita Airport, outside Tokyo, and the foreign press is lapping the pillow up and claiming it's experiencing a resurgence. But is it really?

Dubbed the "Hizamakura" ("lap pillow"), it originally went on sale in late 2004—nearly ten years ago. That's when the above photo was taken.

Earlier this August, Cheapflights.co.uk noted that the Hizamakura from Trane Co., a toy train maker, was available for purchase at Narita Airport. So, one shop in an airport has a product. Well, okay. That sounds incredibly thin.

The Japanese Girlfriend Pillow Resurfaces (Or Does It?)

The Daily Mail inevitably covered it and published the above image. Several popular websites like The Huffington Post and News.com.au covered it, too. Even ABC News covered it. These articles also seem to have inspired some Chinese press coverage in People's Daily, which says the pillows launched in 2000 (it was 2004, but whatevs), but add that they are enjoying renewed popularity.

Likewise, other foreign news outlets claimed the pillow was once again popular, and The Huffington Post added that the Trane lap pillow "appears to be sold out on Amazon.jp." ABC News said it was "creepy" and "weird."

Sure, it might be sold at a duty free shop at Narita Airport. And at the time of writing, Amazon Japan is unable to offer this product (この商品は現在お取り扱いできません). Know why?

The Japanese Girlfriend Pillow Resurfaces (Or Does It?)

Kotaku contacted the pillow's Tokyo-based manufacturer, Trane Co., Ltd. "The Hizamakura is no longer being manufactured," a Trane spokesperson told Kotaku over the phone. "It stopped being produced five years ago." Five years ago!

So, yes, there was a "lap pillow" Trane released way back in 2004. It was a novelty item, more than anything—and seemingly not successful enough to warrant continued production. Yet, here we are in 2013.

The Japanese Girlfriend Pillow Resurfaces (Or Does It?)

But hey, some duty free shop is carrying some remaining inventory, and perhaps, foreigners are buying it as a joke—or maybe they are buying other pillows. Or maybe these three lap pillow boxes are just sitting there at an airport gift shop, and foreigners are looking at those boxes and going, "What the...?" Like I said, this is all pretty thin!

When asked if Trane knew of this renewed lap pillow interest, especially the online news articles, the spokesperson said, "Right now, this is the first I've heard of it."

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Photo: Koichi Kamoshida | Getty

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