Another year another trend. Time to look back on Japan’s best products of 2010 according to ad agency Dentsu. As it was last year, the selection is based on 4 major categories, sales, ingenuity, market-creation and influence.

1. Smartphones

Making a huge leap from 34th place last year into 1st place were smartphones. Apple’s iPhone 4, which was released in mid-2010, was the primary contender in this category. But Android-based smartphones like Xperia also kept pace.

2. Twitter

During 2010, Twitter surpassed Mixi in Japan, becoming the country’s most widely-used social networking service.

3. Edible Rayu (chili oil)

Previously a niche product whose sole usage was a condiment used in gyoza sauce, Rayu was reincarnated into a spoonable consistency by Momoya, who released  “It looks spicy but isn’t too spicy but is a bit spicy” in 2009. The real excitement happened in March of 2010 when SB Foods released a copycat product called “Pour it on! Main dish rayu, a bit spicy.” Edible rayu went viral, selling out in supermarkets across the country.

4. Chideji (digital terrestial broadcasting) Wide Screen Flat Panel TVs

When Japan announced they were switching over to digital television and eliminating all analog service, Japan’s tech-saavy consumers took the only reasonable next step: going out and buying the biggest, thinnest digital TV they could find. (Actually, all you needed was a tuner that costs about 8,000 yen.)

5. Sakamoto Ryoma

Sakamoto Ryoma was a leader of the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period (1852-1869). But I’m sure he never would have guessed that 150 years later he would become the central figure of NHK’s year-long historical fiction television series “Ryomaden,” igniting Sakamoto Ryoma fever across Japan. Companies were quick to try and capitalize on the historic figure’s new-found fame launching products such as Sakamoto Ryoma beer and coffee.

6. Haneda Airport New International Terminal

A third terminal for international flights was completed in October 2010.

7. Tokyo Sky Tree

Designed to be the new tower for terrestrial digital broadcasting throughout greater Tokyo (see #4), and replacing the venerable Tokyo Tower, the Sky Tree, when completed in 2012, will become the world’s tallest broadcast tower. It will also have public observation decks and will be lit up every other night with different sets of lights.

8. Eco Points

Announced by the government as part of an economic stimulus package, the Eco-Point system gives consumers points that can be redeemed for a range of goods when they purchase eco-friendly appliances. Originally announced in mid-2009, the program was extended through the end of 2010. The program was well-received and helped provide a boost to several industries including the LED lighting industry (see#10).

9. South Africa World Cup

Held between June and July of 2010 in South Africa, Japan reached the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup, drawing worldwide praise and attention. The star of the team was, without a doubt, Keisuke Honda, who scored two goals and helped his team rise from 45 to 32 in FIFA’s international rankings.

10. LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs… what more can I say?

source: Dentsu (PDF)