Posted by: y4ku24 | February 6, 2009

From Kit Kat to Kitto Katsu (Sure Win)!

The examination season have hit Japan again. As the university students take their end of semester exams, the high school students face a bigger exam, probably the biggest in their life;

The JYUKEN (pronounced as jew-can), The Japanese University Entrance Exam.

It’s a national phenomena. All high school student’s eyes will be focused on books, books and more books this couple of months. Well, at least if securing a good university afterward means anything to them.


And during this time,  the self-proclaimed ‘I-don’t-believe-in-God’ Japanese teenagers will ironically visit a shrine, to ask God for help in the examination. Kamidanomi (Asking God’s help), they call it. Well, to me, that act alone just proves that, in spite their denial, deep in their hearts, they still believe of an entity that could help them during hardship!

Another interesting phenomena is the student’s food consumption. Parents will try their best during this period to give nutritious food for their jyuken candidates children. Fishes with high DHA content, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc are on the menu. Snacks and junk foods, on the other hand, are off.

Now, this is a great concern amongst the junk food companies. Here are their number one prized costumers, but due to this examination period, they realize that their sales would decrease significantly.

Something must be done to counter this phenomena. The question is, what?

Well, through my experience talking with friends and observing the surroundings, here are some of them, which I think was kinda creative:

1) From sugar to glucose.

As many of us know, chocolates or chocolate based junk foods are high in sugar content. Even though there are glucose present, it is not the main ingredient and exists in such a tiny portion. High sugar consumption is no good. Glucose on the other hand, helps to stimulate the brain.

So chocolate companies uses glucose (or ぶどう糖(budoutou) in Japanese) to promote their products. Some brands go as far as creating a totally different type of chocolate that really has a higher amount of glucose compared to sugar, where as some brands just ‘cheats’ the customers by promoting that they too have glucose in their products, but the portion still is very low compared to the no good sugar!

Here is one example of a product:

img_2008The left one is the normal product, where as the right is the ‘jyuken-mode’ one. Note the product character wears a graduation suit and that ‘Genius prayer with glucose’ in Japanese is written on the packet. (Don’t ask me what that means!) By the way, the quotation is written on a picture of a small wooden piece, which are available in shrines for people to buy and write down their wishes on it, and after wards hang it up near the praying place.

‘Genius prayer with glucose’?? Weird…

2) Packaging change

As some food companies here change their product’s packaging to celebrate the 4 seasons, the jyuken season is no exception! Not only the packaging, the commercials on the product racks and billboards also changes to jyuken-mode. Pictures of high school students, class environment, lucky charms, etc. You get the picture.

3) Change of brand name

This point is the most interesting. It relates to (2), that is, some product’s name even changes to jyuken-mode names! I believe this phenomena is not widely known amongst the foreign students here, because it is kind of subtle. But the japanese know it quite well. As the title on this entry suggests, one of the famous ‘name changing’ brand is Nestle’s Kit Kat.

Actually Kit Kat doesn’t really need to change much, since they are pronounced as Kitto Katto (キット・カット). This term is very close to Kitto Katsu (きっと勝つ), which literally means ‘Win, surely’, or roughly ‘Sure Win’! Upon hearing this fact, a Malaysian friend said, no wonder his teacher gave him a Kit Kat bar before an upcoming exam! Naruhodo! (So that’s it!)

This year, Kit Kat stepped up a gear by releasing a special Kit Kat box, which enables somebody to send the Kit Kat to an acquaintance who is taking the jyuken! Simply buy the special box (more expensive than the normal one, of course), buy a stamp, and on the outside of the small box, you can write the name of receiver, his/her address and a message for him/her. Just post the whole box afterwards.


Letters have never been so delicious!

Letters have never been so delicious!

(Written on the top: ‘Your feelings, delivered’. Written on the sakura petal: ‘Surely, sakura will bloom’. Written on envelope image: ‘Kit (Kat) mail’)

But Kit Kat is not alone in this strategy.

There is a product called Lotte Toppo (トッポ) which turns into ToppA (トッパ), which literally means ‘To exceed (in the exam)’, as shown below,


Note the existance of the pink sakuras/cherry blossoms (Japanese national flower) on the background, just like the Kit Kat one. The start of a new semester in universities here are in April, which is in spring. Sakura blossoms in spring, so it signifies that the students will look forward to the new university semester in spring, when the sakura blossoms! Kit Kat fully utilizes this concept in its commercials.

Another product which is called Kaaru (カ~ル) turns itself into Ukaaru (うか~る), which is near to the Japanese word of ‘Ukaru’(うかる/受かる), literally meaning ‘To pass (the exam)’!

It is fun to see how the Japanese play with words. These are just a fraction of their love of word play!

O Japan, thou creativity always make me smile!

All you guys taking exams out there, no matter where you are, GAMBATTE KUDASAI (all the best)!




  1. Wow, this is a very cool entry 🙂

    Tho, never made such a big deal out of it before, just because product in Japan changes with the change of seasons. Same brand, same product here even differs places to places.

    But how they play their words, fascinating.

    I guess their unique spelling, pronunciation (especially in katakana – just like kitto katto etc) and the kanji gave the Japanese an edge in marketing.

    • @indahayatisamsi: tashiKANI! (that`s right!) <- you reminded me of a commercial where a crab (KANI, in Japanese) pops out to shout tashikani! 😀
      @chepah: terima kasih kerana sudi menjenguk. 🙂 bila nak berbisnes, strategi mesti mantap…;)

  2. never notice about the changing of the brand name
    pndai btol dieorng wat strategi..
    (selalu tewas bile terlihat ape2 yg terpapar ‘kikang gentei’ tp tgk2 after 2 3 months pon still limited lagi…..)

  3. wah..mcm tu skali impak peperiksaan di sana ya. mengkagumkan! musim peperiksaan seolah-olah musim yang ke-5..

    tapi, nak tanya..nama tu adakah ditukar untuk sementara je (masa peperiksaan), kemudian ditukar kembali kepada yang asal?

    kreatif betul orang jepun ni..semoga en.luqman akan membawa kekreatifan tu bila balik Malaysia nanti (”,)

  4. Salam bro,

    menarik betul, kalau exam gini barulah happening, ada rasa tension, suasana yg kondusif katanya…

    menarik, sangat menarik…

    • @iliana: setiap produk ada original packaging, tetapi sesetengahnya akan bertukar mengikut musim, termasuk musim exam! 😀 sesetengah kompeni lain pula akan kluarkan produk ‘limited edition’ utk musim itu, selalunya dengan perisa yang lain.

      @syphoon: salam. huhu,nak kata happening pun tak juga, sebab tekanan periksa tinggi. lagi2 bila dah tiap tahun strategi yg sama…:D

  5. Oh, my… The Japanese are clever aren’t they, geniuses as well as funny, or should I say cunning too? No matter, business is business and something should be done to upraise their sales. And look what they’ve come out with?

    Applause for you who found out about this and shared it here… thank you.

    p/s: Disebabkan mereka ini guna katakana untuk tukar sedikit dari brand asal ke brand yang limited edition tu, mesti ada brand junkfood yang tak boleh tukar langsung kan? (Or, memang semua brand sure boleh tukar punya?) Agak-agaklah, kalau yang tak boleh tukar tu, apa pula strategi yang diorang buat yer? Hehe, just wondering…

  6. salam…

    sy agak berminat dengan artikel ni, jd nk mintak izin untk copy ckit isi untk ltak dlm scrapt book ye…

  7. Salam,

    woh oh! they’re so creative and details. when i was i japan last year, 1 brand attracted me so much, Meiji chocolate! cheap yet delicious.. heee..

    • @Barukisu: Memang kebanyakkannya tak dapat menukar ke nama yang `baru`, tp diorg akan tukar dr segi packaging, kadang2 ada tulis `We support the jyuken candidates!`. 🙂
      @ina: salam. terima kasih kerana menziarah. sila2, no problem! saya bukan pelajar bidang bisnes\marketing, tp kalo itu bidang saudari ina (atau readers yang lain), nak guna sebagai isi tesis/projek pun boleh! (kalo perlu perbincangan lebih lanjut boleh kita berdiskusi) Knowledge is not for us to keep, but for us to share. 🙂
      @ainen: salam. lor, awat tak habaq nak dtg jepun? honeymoon ka? 🙂 meiji chocolate mmg sedap, tp kalo saya blk msia, mesti akan bwk blk choco-peanuts, chocolate yg ada kacang dalam dia. ala2 snickers skit, tp murah dan sedap!

  8. Salam,

    tu la honeymoon @ babymoon. either one also can lah! hee.. tp skjp jek dlm 11hari, jln2 melihat keindahan ciptaan Allah.. ^_^

  9. salam…

    en.luqman pun sedang menghadapi peperiksaan ke? semoga sukses..

    lama tunggu entri baru (freemason barangkali)

    patut la tersedak-sedak..’pelajar marketing’ ye en.luqman. kalau saya komen sepenuhnya, takut jadi entri TMF terus nanti hehehe ;p

    • @iliana: salaam. boleh je jadi penulis undangan utk blog nih. 🙂
      @ina: salaam. doitashimashite! ic, ada juga paper jepun yer. utk buat paper yg unik psl jepun yg mungkin susah nak carik info di internet (n mungkin markah boleh dpt lagi tinggi!), selain dr entri ini, sila ina cek ‘Jepun dan konsep gakkouhoumon’. ini saya sendiri rasa kalo diimplimen di msia teramat bagus. di jepun juga baru mulakan prog ini bila masuk abad ke-21. kalo nak info lagi, jgn segan kontek saya melalui emel/ym ya! bab lain psl jepun spt kimono ke, sakura ke, di internet berlambak. malas saya tulis di sini. tak unik! p.s.: saya telah update gambar kotak kit kat. bolehlah dijadikan rujukan! 😀

  10. salam…

    arigatou…. sbnanye bkan stdent marketing, tp stdent physics…sem ni ambik paper jepun…mcm anak2 tadika jepun la kiranya,so kene wat homework…dpt idea ngan topik ni…truskan menulis untk berkongsi kisah2 kat jepun…sy sgt berminat ngan kisah2 kat sane…nak p sana x da rezki lg… =)

  11. nk jg kit kat pos blk mlysia…utk final exam.blh?

  12. […] memang bagus untuk belajar, sebab ada glukosa. Bagi tenaga kat otak. (Boleh rujuk entri ‘From Kit Kat to Kitto Katsu!’ […]

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