Gold-dusted crisps and £700 mega-burgers go on sale in Japan to celebrate new emperor

Danielle Demetriou
The Golden Giant Burger at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo serves eight people is made with premium wagyu and contains foie gras and shaved black truffles - Kyodo News

Toilet paper, "gold leaf" crisps, packs of cards and mega-burgers may not sound like the most obvious way to celebrate a major historical landmark in modern Japanese history.

Yet these are among a raft of eclectic "imperial" products launched by Japanese businesses as emperor fever appears to sweep the nation.

Japan is currently counting down to the moment when widely respected Emperor Akihito abdicates on April 30, followed by his son Crown Prince Naruhito ascending the throne the next day.

The arrival of a new emperor at the helm of the Chrysanthemum throne will mark the start of an official new era, known as a gengo, whose name was unveiled earlier this week amid much media fanfare as Reiwa – meaning “beautiful harmony”.

The forthcoming abdication has opened the floodgates on a range of new products and initiatives – some practical, some surreal – that are aiming to capitalise on the historic moment.

No product appears to be too humble to receive an imperial makeover – as reflected  by Japanese snack maker Koikeya which has unveiled its new “imperial” crisps, complete with sprinklings of powdered golf leaf.

Potato chips dusted with powdered gold leaf are among the offerings Credit: mag.japaan.com

The high-end crisps, which will go on sale for £2 (300 yen) in Lawson convenience stores from May 1, are packed in an upmarket black and gold cardboard box, with the back resembling a blank calligraphy board – similar to the one used by the government earlier this week to unveil the name of the new era.

“Potato chips are part of our life in Japan,” a spokesperson for Koikeya told the Telegraph. “And gold leaf is one of our good luck symbols. The chips are seasoned with moshio salt and gold leaf from Kanazawa. They are classical, luxurious and delicious.”    

Meanwhile, Itoman Co, a sanitary paper maker from Ehime Prefecture, reportedly hopes to add to the nation’s jubilation by selling toilet paper and tissues with the new era name, as well as auspicious motifs of turtles and cranes, according to Kyodo news agency.

Other head-turning imperial creations include a giant premium wagyu burger with gold-dusted buns costing £683 (100,000 yen), which was dreamt up by chefs at the Oak Door restaurant in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo hotel.

A California sea lion named Guriru paints the name of the new imperial era in Chinese characters at Japan's Izu-Mito Sea Paradise Credit: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

The Golden Giant Burger, created in honour of the incoming emperor, weighs 3kg, serves up to eight people and is packed with a raft of luxury ingredients such as foie gras and shaved black truffles.

The end of the Heisei Era – which began when the current emperor came to power 30 years ago – has also fuelled a string of commemorative products for the nation's nostalgists.

Major rail stations across Japan are currently selling inventive ranges of memorabilia, all emblazoned with the Japanese kanji symbols for Heisei, from socks and sweets to playing cards.

Despite the flurry of new imperial products, experts predicted that the biggest impact on the Japanese economy would be the extra long ten-day Golden Week holiday to mark the ascension of the new emperor.

“The economic effects are estimated at around ¥377 billion (£2.58 billion) throughout the 10 days,” Koya Miyamae, a senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., told Kyodo news.