JAPAN: Dakkochan Delirium

It began in June, when an unknown teen-age girl strolled down Tokyo's bustling Ginza with what appeared to be a baby Martian clinging to her arm. Almost overnight the boom was on. By last week, in the hottest craze to hit Japan since the Hula Hoop, Tokyo department stores were filled with scrambling, stumbling, shoving teen-agers fighting to spend 180 yen (50¢) for a squeaking, winking, black-skinned dakkochan ("embraceable") doll.

With over 300,000 dakkochans sold in the past two months, the odd little doll intended for toddlers now embraces Japanese teenagers' arms and...

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