Read some tiny flashbacks from the Showa Era!

The retro Showa Era of Japan (1926-1989) is still a nostalgic time for many, which explains why places like Showa-themed cafes are still popular. The same goes for vintage trinkets, like the kind our Japanese-language reporter Masami Kinoshita found on a recent shopping trip.

▼ These are actual books, not just models.

It was a gacha machine that sells super tiny books called mame hon (literally translated as “bean books”). These gained popularity with students in the 1950s to the point where you’d be hard pressed to find a student without a bean book keychain on their backpack.

▼ Masami was born in the Showa era, so she was super excited.

Though there were a lot of quiz and fact books back then as they were meant to be quick reads, these gacha bean books were actual short stories. The theme of each was “Surprise Endings in 5 Minutes“, meaning that each story was estimated to only take five minutes for the average Japanese person to read.

▼ It costs 500 yen (US $3.87) per book.

Each book in the machine represented a different genre: red for a “nightmare” story, blue for mystery, black for humor (or black humor, perhaps), and yellow for tragicomedy. Masami was personally intrigued by the blue mystery book, so she prepared the required 500 yen to try her luck.

▼ This isn’t looking good already.

However, the first one that came out was the yellow tragicomedy. When she tried again, she got the same result.

▼ Spoiler: she didn’t get blue.

But the third try? She got black. Then she got red. So close…but then she got another red. That was when she decided to call it quits after having spent a total of 2,500 yen.

▼ That in itself is a tragicomedy.

Though you can probably tell by the photos, these books are tiny at 5 by 3 centimeters (2 by 1.2 inches) each. But their biggest draw-point has to be that they look like full-sized books despite their size.

▼ They even have tiny book sleeves!

Masami wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she opened up one of the books to read, but her first thought was…

▼ “These letters are tiny…”

She’d need some magnifying glasses to be able to read these long-term. After a short while, though, her eyes adjusted enough to allow her to read one of the books.

▼ That’s almost a half hour’s worth of reading material.

Just like the book title promised, she was able to finish reading the book in just under five minutes. They’re perfect for when you have a bit of time to kill. Her only complaint was that the Showa-era customers who buy these may not be able to read them without some sort of visual aid.

▼ Hopefully you have more luck than Masami with getting the book you want.

But if you want a taste of Showa-era handheld entertainment before the age of smartphones, look for this machine in stores throughout Japan!

Images ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!