Boxers, manga, umbrellas… absolutely free

By Joan Coello

We all know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, but in Japan, you might just be able to get free tour rides, free vegetables, and even free boxers. Some of these services even deliver the free items right to your doorstep without charging a single yen.

Sounds too good to be true. Getting a little skeptical here, aren’t we?

Free umbrellas

It sucks when the rain catches you unprepared. Of course, many people carry foldable umbrellas in their bags, but the playful shower just comes pouring down on the day you forgot your brolly, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be perfect if restaurants and retail establishments provided free umbrellas on rainy days? Tadakasa ("tada" means free, and "kasa" means umbrella) to the rescue.

As its name suggests, the company places free umbrellas at participating establishments to save the businesses’ customers on an unexpected rainy day. The catch is, these umbrellas are decorated with logos or advertisements from the umbrella’s sponsor companies. Not the most fashionable accessory, but sure beats getting drenched to the skin! What’s more, these umbrellas may be used as coupons to get special discounts or services when customers bring it back to the store. So the sponsors get their advertisement done, the business outlets get a higher chance of returning customers, and the consumers get home nice and dry – it’s a triple win situation.

Free vegetables

In today’s economy, everyone is concerned about the ever-rising prices of housing, petrol and daily goods. Free vegetables might very well be the most practical thing for families and business owners struggling to make ends meet.

Tadayasai ("yasai" meaning vegetables) collaborates with numerous growers nationwide to provide free vegetables to the public. The vegetables up for grabs mostly come with minor defects, such as cucumbers that grew curvy instead of straight, but are just as fresh and nutritious as the rest of the crop. The free greens are usually distributed in bulk, so this service might not be the best choice for small families, but will probably put a smile on the faces of large families or small food and beverage outlet owners. The giveaway presents the farmers with a chance to have people trying out their produce, and if the consumers like what they taste, they are able to purchase from the same grower via the Tadayasai website.

Free notebooks

Notebooks are a necessity for any student, be it for serious studying, writing love letters, or simple doodles. The Tadanote (free notebook) service was set up by a Fukushima native in the wake of the devastating Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, with the motive of helping children in the affected areas who were struggling to get back to a normal life.

The company distributes free notebooks to as many as 37,000 schools across the country, covering students of all ages, and sometimes even to business establishments. Companies sponsor the production of these notebooks, and in return get their businesses advertised on the covers and the footers of the notebooks. On top of that, the notebooks are handed to each student individually, so the companies know exactly who they’re sponsoring, and the recipients know who to thank for their free writing pads.

Free loose leaf papers

Similar to the Tadanote service, Ecofull is a company that distributes free writing pads to support the studies of university students.

Instead of banded notebooks, Ecofull gives away B5 sized ruled loose leaf papers with sponsored advertisements printed at the bottom of the pages. The environment-friendly papers are produced entirely of recycled material, and soy ink is used for the printing. The company has been actively supporting local undergraduates since 2007, and currently reaches out to 25 campuses in Japan.

Free photocopying

Bringing more good news to students is Tadacopy (free photocopy), which offers free photocopying services to university students across Japan.

Run by media creators, Oceanize Inc, the copier machines are placed in more than 200 campuses, providing over 300,000 students with free copies. As you might have noticed the trend here, some form of advertising has to be involved in order to pull off such a costly service. The papers on which the photocopies are made are printed with advertisements on one side. Which makes double-sided printing impossible, but who cares as long as its free, right? We often see people giving out flyers on the streets, and sometimes avoid them like the plague, but this is one flyer the students will definitely take home with them, because they need the pages with their notes photocopied on them. Sneaky, witty advertisers aren’t they.

Free boxers

If there’s any advertising tactic that can outsmart the “ninja flyer” photocopying service, it has to be this one. Free boxer pants, and up to seven of them in a month. Unfortunately, only the guys get to benefit from this intimate freebie.

Just like the free umbrellas, writing pads and photocopy pages, this free item comes printed with advertisements on it to offset the production costs. Furipan (short for furii pantsu, which means free underwear) sends boxer shorts to subscribers, totally free of charge. The one-size-fits-all boxers are made of 95% cotton and 5% polyurethane and come in various colors. You don’t get to choose the color or ad printed on it, but no one sees it anyway, right? Just make sure you’re not wearing one of these on your date night and nobody will know you’re wearing free underwear.

Free Tokyo tour

Maybe you’re the type of traveler who likes to explore the land on your own feet, but perhaps we can change your mind with this adorable panda bus that goes around one of Tokyo’s most visited tourist areas? Besides, it’s free.

The Asakusa Panda Bus is a free shuttle service that takes you around the Asakusa area in Tokyo, one of the most popular tourism spots in Japan. It makes 13 to 14 stops on the way depending on the direction you’re headed, and even takes you across the Sumida River to drop by the Tokyo Skytree. On top of the free ride, passengers get a Panda Passport which includes coupons that you can use to get discounted rates for services at supporting establishments. Arguably the best deal in Tokyo.

Free manga

Possibly the most popular choice among the list. Operated by Ken Akamatsu, the creator of popular manga series such as Mahou Sensei Negima!, J-comi is a website packed with Japanese manga that is free to browse online. Need we say more? This is simply a treasure trove for manga lovers.

Source: Naver Matome

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Free Umbrellas With A Purpose -- Six great wet weather deals in and around Tokyo -- Fun Facts About Pocket Tissue Advertisements in Japan

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What awesome ideas! It's nice to see things like this.

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That's very nice idea! I didn’t know these services, but I know free loose leaf paper, Tadacopy, and Furipan service. I have heard that Furipan is really nice, if we avoid being picky about design. Unfortunately, I have never use these service yet. I was totally surprised that we can get vegetables, which are non-standard or excess production, without spending money. Even though these vegetables are usually sold at a low price. I guess I can survive by make good use of that service. haha. Well, regrettably, some of these service limited to part of only a few place. I want to use these service if I have chance!

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