Saturday, January 22, 2000

Greetings from J-List January 22, 2000

Hello from a very cold and windy Japan. The temperature is well below the freezing point as the Sea of Japan side of the country is experiencing very strong snowfall. The Japanese Alps (yes, they really call them that) are protecting the Tokyo area from the snow, but it's really cold. North Americans who are used to such staples as central heating, but in Japan, heat is provided to one room at a time via kerosene heaters (called "stoves") which invariably run out of fuel at the most inconvenient times, forcing you to go outside to pump more kerosene (and get kerosene on your hands).

I'm a little nervous before my big performance tomorrow. Sunday is the annual school show put on by our kids' preschool, and it's a huge affair, with over 20 acts performed by the children, the staff -- and parents. I'm in a group that'll be performing a taiko (Japanese drum) number, and being the only foreigner in the group, any tiny mistake I make is sure to be caught by the entire audience.

I'm rushing to get the update off so I can get home (and get warm). For your viewing enjoyment, there's an interesting site that features some Quicktime VR movies of scenes around Tokyo at . (Quicktime 3 or 4 with QTVR installed is required.) It's just like being here!

Newly added items to the J-List site tonight include:

  • New magazines, including the new issues of Dela Beppin, Video Boy and Best Vide, as well as a dozen or more $5 magazines for our $5 magazine sale (see new magazines on magazine page 1, $5 magazines on page 3)
  • Several new in-stock videos, courtesy of Kaori, featuring Kawashima Azumi, Wakana Sena, and more
  • New Yaoi manga on the Yaoi page o and two new Japanese puzzles on the puzzle page, including a new illustration by the excellent Yoshitaka Amano (creator of Vampire Hunter D).

Well, that's tonight's update. Have a nice weekend, and wish me luck on stage!

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Greetings from J-List January 20, 2000

Hello from Japan, home of the the original salad-flavored pretzel.

My wife and I are like a mirror reflection of each other sometimes. We were watching one of the "Natsukashii (nostalgic) Anime" TV shows they have here, and they showed some old Astro Boy anime. Kazuki, who loves robots of any kind (especially Grand Liner, a robot that turns into a train), asked what the show was. My wife answered "Astro Boy" in English at the same time I answered "Tetsuwan Atom" in Japanese. The poor boy is never going to get his languages straight...

One area that has really changed in the past few years is the world of investment and finance. Turned on its ear three years ago when one of the "big three" securities firms suddenly closed its doors, Japanese investors are now offered many more choices, with the entry of Merril Lynch, Fidelity, E*Trade and others into the Japanese market. Nowadays, commercials for investment opportunities rival the high-interest loan companies for commercial time on late-night TV.

Tonight's update is a special one, with a lot of nice new items being added to the list. First and foremost, we've added some great new manga to the hentai manga page, including a new issue of the Electronic Fighting Girls parody dojinshi anthology which should be very popular. For fans of Yaoi manga, we've got two very nice new "wide" manga, too. There are new dojinshi and "dojin-soft" items in the dojinshi section, including some floppy-based CG collections that we picked up at the last Comic Market. If you love JPOP, we've got recent singles by Amuro Namie and Globe on the JPOP page, and on the Anime & Toys page, we've got new Lodoss toys

Announcing the J-List $5 Magazine Sale. As a ways of saying thanks for all your support, and to help us clear out old stock, we're happy to announce that all items on Magazine page 3 will be just $5 -- and to make sure there's lots of good stuff, we've stocked the page with great items like Dela Beppin, Bejean, Mr. Max, Nippon Mini-Skirt Club, Gal's Dee, and Urecco -- over two-dozen listings. Most of the items are "one-shots, so they'll go fast. Make sure you check out the J-List Magazine page 3, now.

J-List has the last known stock of the excellent Lunatic Party and Angelic Impact adult dojinshi anthologies, which parody Sailor Moon and Evangelion. We've lowered all prices on these excellent series, so check out the excellent books on the Adult Manga (Parody) page, now!

Greetings from J-List October 20, 2000

Hello again from Japan, where going to Kentucky means eating chicken and everyone thinks IT stands for "Internet technology."

Rice is the national staple food of the Japanese, and almost everyone eats rice with one or two meals each day. The word "okazu" means "that which goes with rice" -- fish, chicken, or "hamburg" steak -- and figures into most every evening meal. The most delicious rice is koshi-hikari, and the most famous region of Japan for growing this rice is Niigata Prefecture (the "snow country" in Kawabata's famous novel). Older Japanese often imagine that bread plays the same role to Americans as rice does to the Japanese, that we plan each and every meal around what kind of bread we have today -- but of course, this isn't usually the case. Japanese can be very silly about rice -- the exact same stalk of rice that tastes good grown in Niigata Prefecture would certainly taste terrible if grown in California or Thailand, for example -- but each nation should be permitted certain hang-ups. The economical situation of Japan's rice farmers is a major factor in politics here, and the most important sector of support to Japan's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party are the rice farmer unions -- every once in a while they get the urge to drive their tractors through downtown Maebashi in protest of something or the other, bringing traffic in the city to a half. Virtually no young people are involved in or interested in farming here in Japan

We're happy to report that the first of the calendars have come in! The ones that came in are the first ones posted (the Joy of Sushi, Morita Haruyo collection, and so on), and more calendar pre-orders will be coming in soon. Unfortunately, the deadline for calendars is looming, and we've been told by our calendar distributor that we should stop taking orders as of the end of October. After the end of this month, many of the most popular calendars will start to sell out, and may not be available. We believe these excellent, high-quality calendars stand for much of what we love about Japan, and we hope that you'll consider getting some of them for yourself or loved ones before calendar season ends this year.

Ah My Goddess! has pulled into the lead, with Totoro, Evangelion, and Gundam Wing close behind. Kanabun's nude calendar is at the head of the pack, with the surprising "Hot springs nudes" in second place. Lovely Race Queen Suzuki Fumika is in first place in the "lovely ladies of Japan" category, followed by swimsuit idol Satoh Eriko, Fukuda Kyoko and "mini-skirt police" idol Asakura Megumi. Other popular calendars this year are the Joy of Sushi and Joy of Soba, The Way (different slogans in Kanji), and the excellent Japanese scroll paintings 2001 calendar.

For this evening's update, we've got a bunch of very nice items for you, including:

  • First, even more magazines for our extremely popuylar $5 magazine sale --
  • On magazines page 1, a great new issue of the high-value Top Video
  • The first calendars have come in, and we've got stock of several of them -- see the tops of the Calendars pages (nudes and beautiful views of Japan) for the in-stock items
  • For photobook fans, the dynamite hardcover photobooks of Takamatsu Ai ("Cosmos") and Mochizuki Karen ("Prologue")
  • S&M and bondage photobooks will enjoy the two excellent new gouka-bon format books, on the S&M photobooks page
  • If you like hentai manga, we've got several excellent all-new books for you (Manga -> New releases), in addition to some really excellent back-in-stock manga that have come back in (Manga -> Best-sellers) -- over a dozen new items in all
  • Several back-in-stock photobooks are posted, including Privacy 004, Kajiwara Norika's erotic nude photobook (she looks like the popular actress Fujiwara Norika), and for Fubuki Akira fans, fresh stock of the sold-out So Long photobook (photographed in Great Britan!)
  • If you love amateur AV, check out Peepers, a fun all-amateur magazine and Video CD item with 70 minutes of footage -- on DVD -> MPEG CD-ROM
  • For Japan AV video fans, we've got several excellent new titles in stock (Videos -> New releases) including Kanazawa Bunko's excellent "Mouthful of Ejaculation"
  • For DVD lovers, the excellent History of Crystal, with 220 minutes of footage from the last five years of this company's history (region 2 encoded)
  • If you love Japan's excellent SF films, check out Uchusen, a super item filled with information on Godzilla, Kamen Rider, and much more -- on Anime -> Anime & Manga magazines
  • For Japanese snack fans, more stock of the very cool only-from-Japan Digimon toys
  • Back in stock on our popular Wacky Things from Japan page are more wooden signs ("do not urinate here"), more Hello Kitty chopsticks (amaze your friends!), more Japanese vocabulary study cards, and more "socks glue" to hold your "loose socks" up with!
  • Finally, another delicious snack item that I've loved for years -- Japanese "persimmon seed" rice crackers with peanuts! So spicy, so tasty. See them on the Snack pages.
  • We've added a selection of links on how to view region-2 encoded DVD players, on our region-2 DVD page. Included is information on code-free DVD players, hacks and kits for your current DVD player, and firmware for DVD ROM drives. We also recommend a very nice DVD code-free player that we recommend for all fans of international DVD. Thanks to all J-List customers who helped us assemble the list.

Okay, go check out the items!

Tuesday, January 18, 2000

Greetings from J-List January 18, 2000

Greetings, Programs, from J-List.

I'm typing this on my new Power Macintosh G4 right now, experiencing the thrill of being "edge" again, for however many months it will be...

January 17th marked the fifth anniversary of the terrible Great Hanshin Earthquake, which devastated the Kobe-Kyoto-Osaka area and claimed more than 5000 lives. I still remember getting beeped on my "pocketbell" (everyone had pocketbells back in 1995, no one had portable phones yet) and hearing Chiharu tell me about the terrible earthquake and fires that were destroying the city. It was very humbling to the Japanese, who openly consider their civil engineering to be the best in the world. I had visited Kobe myself just two months before the tragedy, to see the city and also to add another notch in my Old Spaghetti Factory belt -- whenever I travel to a city that has an Old Spaghetti Factory, I am compelled to visit the restaurant. It turned out that the manager of the Kobe branch had done a year of management training at the OSF in San Diego and we became friends, and he drove me around the city. I was happy to hear that the old restaurant (which was formerly a brick warehouse used to store torpedoes during World War II) suffered some damage, but none of the staff was hurt in the quake. We've got a bunch of great items for you tonight.

Sunday, January 16, 2000

Greetings from J-List October 16, 2000

Hello from Japan, the country that invented "melon au lait" -- melon-flavored milk, which Tomo just loves.

Whenever you learn a language, one of the first things you generally learn are the "bad" words -- that's just plain human nature. What many students of Japanese are surprised to find are, there are almost no really bad words to learn -- if you define bad as in, words that kids aren't allowed to use. "Kuso" (shit) is used regularly on children's anime in Japan, and most kids use it normally while playing. "Baka" (stupid) is the catch-all insult, although my daughter takes it a step higher by saying "baka-jijii" (stupid old man), usually to strangers. The various applications of the "F" word don't translate into Japanese at all -- although virtually all Japanese know the English word, along with the English word "sekkusu." What defines "bad" language in Japan is often not the words themselves, but the tone and style of speech -- I forbade my kids to watch Gingaman (aka Power Ranger Galaxy) on TV in Japanese due to the rude yakuza-like tone of voices used by the villains. The only really "bad" words in Japanese is "manko" (referring to a woman's reproductive organ) -- a word as embarrassingly close to "mango" as election/erection for Japanese speakers of English. This word is so bad, it's usually written with a circle or "X" in place of the middle letter when written in manga.

There are many interesting gestures that the Japanese have come up with, some of which are quite famous all over the world. Instead of point to his chest when referring to himself, he'll point to his nose, which looks odd to some foreigners. An "okay" sign inverted means "money, and a pinkie held up with a questioning glance means Are you seeing your girlfriend tonight?" Waving your hand at someone looks to Americans to mean "get away from me, but it really means come here." Both forefingers put on your head to look like devil's horns means "anger, as in, If I go to a bar, my wife will get angry with me." And clashing your forefingers together like swords means "fighting, as in, My wife and I got into a big fight last night. I shouldn't have gone to that bar last night."

For this evening's update, we've got a lot of great items for you, including:

  • First, new magazines, including the excellent new Beppin School and Gokuh issues -- these are great new issues filled with the most popular AV stars and models from Japan
  • For photobook fans, we've got The Super Girls, a collection of *35* lovely AV and models from Japan
  • On our high-end bondage and S&M photobook page, several new items, including new "hitozuma" (married women) books and more
  • We have several excellent manga posted, including new erotic wide manga by Mujin Comics, MD Comics and Cult Comics (see Manga -> New releases)
  • For fans of erotic game dojinshi, we've got not one but two new volumes of the popular Electric Love Princess adult dojinshi anthology mangas (on Manga -> Parody manga)
  • For hentai anime fans, an interesting item, the "Active Memorial Series, a line of hentai video digital comics" adapted from popular hentai games -- see this on Adult videos -> New releases
  • For code-free adult DVD fans, we have two great new titles -- Mejiri Climax vol. 1, which features 90 minutes of great footage from five of the Mejiri titles, and Non-Stop Fuck, a 120 min. compilation of "100+1" girl over the past ten years (great item for collectors)
  • On our anime toys page, we've got a really cool item -- the Kubrick action figures based on the Planet of the Apes, with figures of Taylor and Statue of Liberty, Cornelius, Zira, Dr. Zaius, and more
  • Also from the Kubrick line, a mech and armored figure based on Votoms
  • We have another set of vintage Japanese pro-wrestling magazine, on the magazines "back-issues" page
  • For those who don't have enough Hello Kitty in their lives, a nifty photograph frame -- display pictures of your loved ones on a desk or hanging on a wall, surrounded by Hello Kitty
  • Finally, from the "things Peter has wanted to sell for years" category, we've got another handy item you just can't live without: Japanese mosquito incense, known as "katori senkoh" in Japanese. A spiral of long-burning incense which burns from the outside, towards the center, it emits a pleasant incense smoke that wards off mosquitos and other flying bugs. A great item for anyone who's bothered by mosquitoes!

As much as I've enjoyed working on CM-Watch, that site that aims to bring you interesting Japanese TV commercials and CM-culture, I've got to face the fact that I'm just too busy to continue with the updates. Rather than let this great site fold, I'm looking for a webmaster who will help with updates and conversion of commercials in iMovie format to Quicktime (including subtitles). Please email me if you're interested, as I've got a backlog of interesting CM's I'd like to post. Knowledge of Japanese CM culture and idols, and experience with Macs and iMovie/iMovie 2 are appreciated. Please email for more information!