"KitKat Mail" (daruma edition) front.
You know that study season is upon you in Japan when all of the KitKat displays start to bloom. In Japan, around the beginning of the year, kids start gearing up for their entrance exams to various levels of the education system. Competition for public high schools is fiercer than ever now that they are free. Those who don't succeed and have to attend private schools are going to make a sizable dent in their parent's bank accounts.
KitKat Mail (daruma edition) back.
My husband and I were at the local post office sending off a package to a friend back home when we noticed a display box which had about 6 little plastic daruma dolls with KitKat logos on them. It was in front of "KitKat Mail" boxes of the candy which are always on offer at our local postal facility. After hemming and hawing a bit, we asked what the deal was because we couldn't see the back of the box and the front looked like nothing special.
Detail of back, illustrating how you paint in one eye and later the other.
It turns out that these KitKats have the plastic daruma inside of the box, though the display made it appear that you would be given one as a promotional gift rather than receive one inside. Daruma, for those who don't know, are used to mark the start and successful completion of a goal. The owner paints in one eye when the goal is started and the other eye is painted in when the task is done. Clearly, these are marketed for kids to mark their successful entry into the school of their choice. I'm guessing they cook their little plastic heads in a microwave into a gruesome mass if they fail.
The curious thing about this was that a handwritten sign was on the display box stating that you couldn't buy these KitKats unless you spent at least 140 yen on postage at the post office. That happens to be the price of mailing this box in Japan, but we were able to procure one despite not having anyone to mail it to because we'd spent 330 yen on an international package. I don't know if it is a rule at all post offices, or just ours, but this is probably something they do to prevent people from treating the postal service as a distribution network for special KitKat promotional items. After all, I'm sure the whole reason that Japan Post is in bed with Nestle Japan on this front is that they hope to enhance their postage sales, not to sell more KitKats for a private corporation. The KitKat box with daruma cost 240 yen ($2.93).
For your investment, you get the sturdy box, the plastic doll, and 3 KitKat minis. It's terrible value for your money unless your aim is to pep up a studying student with a small gift rather than get some sugary treats. If you're a collector of all things KitKat, then this is pretty much a "must have" edition, so I'd recommend hopping to the nearest post office and getting one now, though you may have to buy some stamps, too.