Saturday, January 13, 2001

Greetings from J-List October 13, 2001

Hello again from Japan, the land of strawberry and butter sandwiches...

One thing that's often a shock to outgoing, cheerful Westerners is the Japanese tendency of modesty. Try praising a Japanese person by telling them how good their English is, and they'll disagree with you, telling you "No, my English isn't good at all." If you compliment most American women on how pretty they look, they'll probably reply with a warm "thank you," but taking note of how pretty a Japanese women looks can be a confusing experience, as they shake their head and firmly disagree with you. In Japanese society, the concept of "kenson" (translated as humility or modesty) is an important quality for people to have in a land that's got so many more people per square kilometer (325 vs. just 26 in the USA). There are many stereotypes and silly notions about Japanese modesty, many which were inserted into American popular culture by novelists like James Clavell, but basically, the concept of "kenson" just means that people not be boastful but instead try to play down their own skills or abilities in a polite way. There are many phrases in Japanese that illustrate the tendency to show humility. For example, when you give someone a gift, you usually say "Here's something that's not interesting" (tsumaranai mono desu kedo...) or if you bake someone a cake, you say, "I'm not sure if it tastes good or not..." (Oishii ka dou ka wakaranai kedo).

Modesty is never more important than during a job interview, when you'll basically be asked various questions by the interviewer and must show your good character by how humble you are. It's very different than in the U.S., where interviewees must enunciate their skills in concrete ways in order to stand out from the pack. We did some interviewing last week, talking with several potential Japanese staff members, and it was a very interesting thing to partake in. One girl in particular boasted about how good her English was (it wasn't), and basically violated the idea of "humility" as a good thing to be. It wasn't hard deciding which girl we weren't going to hire...

I get a lot of questions from people who want to teach ESL (that's English as a Second Language in teacher-speak) in Japan. While there are tens of thousands of teachers teaching English in Japan at a variety of schools, the long Japanese recession has done a lot of damage to the "eikaiwa" (English conversation) industry, bringing salaries and general teaching conditions down. Teaching English is still a great way to get to see and live in Japan, and it's also a super way to meet some very nice Japanese people (including girls) who are interested in learning English -- but anyone interested in teaching in Japan (or in other countries in Asia) should know that teaching ESL isn't the stuff that satisfying careers are made of, for most people. Anyone who wants to teach in Japan, either on the JET program, or at one of the three major English conversation school chains, or at smaller private schools, would need a bachelor's degree from a four-year college (any subject will do, no one cares what you majored in here), an open mind about things like squid pizza (you think I'm joking, don't you?), and the desire to do right by your Japanese hosts -- e.g., learn a little humility. With the long string of Good Times in the U.S., most language teachers here come from Canada and Australia, so there's probably some demand for Americans to teach. Also, although female language teachers are always in demand, it seems that there are almost none here, so maybe there are some opportunities available (husband and wife teams can also find jobs together, too). Now that the my homepage (http://www.peterpayne.net) is up again, anyone who wants to know more can see my general article on the subject. Thanks, and good luck!

Five years ago this month, we started J-List. At first it was just Kaori and me as things slowly picked up and started to grow. Now Kaori-chan, J-List employee #1, is getting married to her fiancee, who she's dated since high school. Japanese take weddings seriously, and Kaori's been planning her wedding for months (she reserved the church over a year ago, to be sure she could have the wedding on one of the lucky days according to the Chinese calendar). The J-List team will be there in force to congratulate Kaori, and we'll bring our cameras. Oh, that reminds me, I've got to write a speech! As Kaori's boss, I have to give a speech to 150+ people, and in Japanese, too!

Well, that's all for now -- until our next regular update, we'll see you on the web!

Friday, January 12, 2001

Greetings from J-List January 12, 2001

Hello, and Happy Friday from Japan, from your expat friends at J-List!

American companies must always strive to bring unique products that meet the tastes of other countries, and in Japan, companies like McDonald's and Burger King strive to do this. McDonald's is currently running a special on their new Salmon Muniel Deluxe sandwich, which is accompanied by a new limited edition pie, Pear and Cranberry, which are both quite good. Burger King has copied McDonald's popular Teriyaki Burger with a Teriyaki Burger of its own, which is definitely a taste improvement, but they really missed their target with this month's special, the Mexican Ravioli Burger, a fried large ravioli with spicy Mexican sauce inside on a bun.

Driving in Japan can be different from what you might be used to. First, while many people prefer to drive with their lights on during the day in the U.S. for extra safety, is never done here, and if you leave your lights on while you drive, it causes other drivers to stop you and tell you that your lights are on. While honking a horn at another driver can cause road rage in the U.S., here a short "beep" is the universal way of saying thanks and good-bye as you pull away. Most drivers turn off their car's headlights at intersections (leaving the parking lights on), as a courtesy to drivers who might be blinded by their lights on the other side of the intersection. In Tokyo, where drivers drive with consideration for others (unlike Gunma, where we live), a two-second flashing of the hazard lights is the correct way to say "thank you" when another driver gives you the right of way. And no matter how much I try not to

We like to have extra-special updates on Friday if we can, and today is no exception: we've got a bunch of great items.

  • First, several new magazines on the magazines pages, including Subijin, for fans of busty amateur girls, and PC Dash, a nifty magazine + idol CD ROM
  • For photobook fans, we've got a dynamite item: the often-requested "Flowers" hardcover photobook featuring Aoi Minori and Horiuchi Nana
  • Also for photobook fans, many new and back-in-stock items on the photobooks page, including Sakura Makoto's "Cherish" photobook and limited stock of Yoshino Minami' angelic "Spring" photobook
  • If you love Japan's very special let fetish books, check out the excellent items on the let photobook page, including fresh stock of "Cosplay Top Mode" and "Legs of Rich Girl 3"
  • We've got fresh stock of the incredibly popular Crystal Card nude collectible cards (maybe because Ohura Anna is included in this set?)
  • For manga fans, there are many cool items posted to the manga pages, including fresh stock of many of our most popular books, and more
  • There are new items on the dojinshi page, including some very popular and much-requested dojinshi
  • For fans of the popular Japanese genre known as "tekoki" (females giving hand jobs to men), another great item: Hayashi Yumika's very erotic "Do you want a hand job? 4" from the excellent Soft on Demand folks, including many interesting ways for an AV idol to jack off a man
  • Also for AV fans, two very special and rare items: Ikegami Misa's lovely "Twinkling Apple" erotic performance, and the busty Sawaguchi Miki's "Huge Breast Aventure"
  • We have two excellent and value-priced erotic DVDs zoned for "ALL" countries, including a double feature with Sakura Nana and Misaki Mao, on the DVD pages
  • We've got an update to our fast-growing bishojo/hentai DVD page, with a DVD from the popular Dokyusei 2 anime
  • For our anime fans, we've got several cool items, including more stock of the sold-out Gundam Mark II from Zeta Gundam (AEUG version) and a fantastic anime phone strap for Lupin III lovers
  • We have fresh stock of two surprisingly popular items on our snacks pages -- Kuro-Ame Black Candy and Japanese sake candy -- as well as two cool new items (the classic Sakuma Drop hard candies as seen in Grave of the Fireflies, and Lotte's puzzling "Crunky")
  • Our patented Wacky Things from Japan page has been updated again, with fresh stock of several nice items, including Hiragana and Katakana study notebooks and other funny Japanese notebooks with strange English on them, that nifty "relax pillow, and more Japanese onsen (hot springs) powder for your bath
  • Finally, new items for the Wacky Things from Japan page include Megane Cleaner, a super way to clean the lenses of your glasses or sunglasses, and another version of our popular anti-germ masks from Japan!

Thanks to everyone who passed on advise on how to view region-2 DVDs. We've updated the top of the Region-2 DVD page with links to a nice code-free player for $299 that has many other extra features, along with various links to information on ways of getting around the region lockouts with your PC's DVD-ROM drive. We've also got a link to a useful program that lets you reset your region code if you're using a Mac.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Greetings from J-List January 10, 2001

Hello again from your friend in Japan! Pardon my typing tonight, I was up til 4 am watching the Macworld Expo keynote speech via webcast...

The Chinese language and writing system is to the Japanese very much what Latin and Greek are to the west: the source of all science and expression of ideas. Just as the words we use in English come from words in classical languages, kanji and the ways in which words are combined using Japanese characters to make new words are an interesting way to understand the language. Although now the Japanese have English to turn to when new ideas come along, needing words to label them -- resulting in words like "DVD player" and "illustrator" being used as-is in Japanese, albeit written in the katakana syllibery -- there are just as many cases where new names come from kanji, combined by joining kanji elements to make a new word.

There are several amusing phrases that speak to the Japanese and their relationship with Chinese characters, kanji. In Sazae-san, the long-running anime that captures in calming, peaceful tones the happiness of a traditional Japanese family, for example, Sazae and her husband, Masuo, sleep on futons with their son, Tara-chan, sandwiched in between. This is called sleeping in "kawa no ji" or "like the character for river" since it imitates the three lines of the character for river. Also

For this evening's update, we've got some very nice new items for you, including:

  • First, some great new stock of magazines, including the great Pink Gold, as well as several backissues from 1999
  • If you love S&M photobooks and Japan's high-end fetish books, we have fresh stock of several items, including a cool issue of Slave Mania
  • There are several very nice photobooks posted on the Japanese photobooks page
  • For leg fetish fans, more stock of the sold-out deluxe "Mini-Suka Super"
  • We have yet *even* more 2001 calendars, including the excellent Haruyo Morita works, the World of Soba noodles, and a wonderful nude calendar featuring "Kaori, on the calendars pages
  • For erotic manga fans, we've got another major update, with a half dozen all new books posted, as well as many very cool back from the dead" books that had been sold out in the past (but which we have extremely limited stock of on hand)
  • Monday's volley of dojinshi disappeared in record time, so we've got another for you -- a bunch of excellent new adult dojinshi which we picked up at the winter Comic Market
  • Fans of the dynamite Morishita Kurumi have reason to be happy, with her super 90 minute "Kuru-Milk" video, featuring Kuru-Kuru decked our as a Japanese kogal, right down to the tanned skin -- it's all very erotic
  • Also for SOD fans, a super item called Sperm Lesbian, a neat featuring with two lovely AV idols performing hetero lesbian sexual acts (sometimes at the same time)
  • To help us lower our stock levles, we've got even more discount videos on the discount pages, all with free shipping
  • Newly added stock to our Wacky Things from Japan page include another really lovely "Japanese congratulations envelope" (used for giving money at weddings, but you can find a dozen uses for it), as well as a nifty "trash net" that removes link and other trash from your washing machine as you wash your clothes
  • For Speed Racer fans, we have fresh stock of the oh-so-cool die-cast Mach 5 car, complete with all the excellent features of the original car
  • Finally, by customer request, we've created "sampler boxes" of our unique Japanese snack foods, featuring different selections of some of the snacks we love most, including Pocky, Hi-Chu Kids, Wata-Pachi (exploding pop rocks and cotton candy), and of course, Japan's wonderful varieties of gum. Three sets available, and all are shipped in special protective plastic cases.

While the vast majority of the Japanese adult and other DVDs J-List carries are zoned for "ALL" countries, meaning you can view them on any DVD player, we do our best to stock those discs that are zoned for region 2 (Japan and Europe).Virtually all anime DVDs, including our hentai DVDs, are coded for region 2, as are SOD's DVD line. The country lockouts are frustrating for people in North America and Asia trying to view code-2 discs, but remember, there are several ways to view these DVDs, most of which are outlined at the top of the region-2 DVD page. I personally keep my Mac's DVD drive set to region 2, and view all region-2 DVDs on my computer (you can change the code up to 5 times). Also

Monday, January 08, 2001

Greetings from J-List January 8, 2001

Hello again to all J-Listas from a very cold Japan!

We got a special present in Japan this morning: a massive dumping of snow, which turned the Kanto Plain into a winter wonderland and made it difficult for most of the J-List staff to come to work today. Being from San Diego, I don't have as much to do with snow as 'd like sometimes, so I welcome it whenever I can. Unfortunately, the Tokyo region doesn't get "real" snow very often, so winter is usually limited to cold, baiting "kara-kaze" wind from the mountains, with no snow to show for it.

Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to visit an adult video studio, and talk with some directors who had worked with several idols known to J-List fans (Yazawa Yoko, others). They were fascinated to hear that Japan's unique AV world had a huge following all over the world. While I was at the studio, I look through hundreds of "resumes" (a standard form showing their past work history and several nude photos) of girls who wanted to break into the AV world, which were sent to the studio from companies who manage these girls. Amazingly, an incredible number of women want to become AV idols, but can't break into the business due to fierce competition. In Japan, all AV girls are represented by "offices" (jimusho) that are similar to PR agents in the U.S. The world of singers and idols works in similar ways -- performers like Morning Musume are represented by a "jimusho" that take care of all negotiations and make arrangements for jobs.

For tonight's update, we've got some great items for you, including:

  • First, an update to our popular Japanese adult magazines pages, including the new issues of Dela Beppin and Gokuh -- heads up, Hagiwara Mai fans (!)
  • Also for magazine and photobook fans, a fantastic item -- the Body Poster Actress collection, a book filled with body poster erotica from virtually all popular AV actresses in Japan today
  • There are several rare and premium issues of Nowon, on the Photobooks page, including some with actresses too famous to name here
  • We have several other great new photobook items, including the "memorial nude" of the lovely Natsumi Rika
  • If you love dojinshi, run, don't walk, to the dojinshi page, to see our newly added items, all of which are newly issued dojinshi from December's Comic market
  • We have a major update of our adult manga pages, with many all-new volumes posted, as well as a dozen or more very special manga that are available in limited number now
  • For lovers of the wonderful Morishita Kurumi (e.g. "Kuru Kuru"), we have a very special video from SOD -- her "best of early days" video compilation, including some of her best early work, as well as never before seen scenes
  • Also for Kurumi fans, a super new DVD release from SOD, a great production never released on video -- Morishita Kurumi's "Violence." Like all SOD DVDs, it's region 2, and a great reason to consider getting a code free DVD player from eBay ^_^
  • We have fresh stock of several of our most popular Wacky Things from Japan, including Hello Kitty chopsticks, our popular wooden signs that say "Now studying, and fresh stock of the popular Japanese shiatsu shoe inserts
  • We have some cool new items for our Wacky Things page, including the ultimate rubber baby bib/apron (yes, we know it's not our usual forte, but it's so cool), new gauze face masks to keep your cold germs from spreading to others when you're sick, and more!
  • Finally, a tasty snack that's very near the hearts of Tomo and myself, the delicious Baby Star dry ramen noodles. A package of delicious chicken-flavored ramen noodles, Baby Star's ramen are a crunchy, delicious snack you can enjoy anywhere. Another great item from the things we've wanted to sell on J-List for years" category!

Okay, thanks -- see you on the web!

Sunday, January 07, 2001

Greetings from J-List October 7, 2001

Hello and TGIF from Japan!

With all that's different between Japan and the West, you can bet that there are some toilet-related differences, too. When Japanese women use a public toilet, they're very nervous about others hearing the sound of their tinkling, so some Japanese public bathrooms have machines to make white noise that drowns out the sound. My four-year-old daughter went into one of these restrooms and was too afraid of the sound to do what she had gone in there to do. Similarly, Japanese women don't want others smelling the toilet after they've used it, so they often carry portable cans of air freshener to spray the area and make it fresh and clear. Conveniently, we happen to have gotten some of these in stock for you today...

The words for things are also different. In Japan, the place where you do your thing is called a "toire" (to-i-ray), and Japanese aren't comfortable with the English euphemism of "bathroom" since the toilet has nothing to do with the bath. In most Japanese houses, the toilet is a small room (about one tatami mat in size), and the bath is next door, completely separate. I've lived in Japan so long that I often embarrass myself while in the U.S. by using the wrong word in English. For example, asking a clerk in a store where the "toilet" was, rather than the restroom -- and getting a funny look from her. My wife is always happy to tease and mock me for slipping up.

Japan's various traditions of bathing are quite famous all over the world. Most Japanese take baths in the evening, although younger people replace this tradition with a shower in the morning. In Japanese homes, the actual bath-room is a bath and a separate tiled area outside the bath, with a drain for water to escape. You always wash your body thoroughly before getting into the bath, and never use soap or shampoo inside the bath itself, as the water will be reused by other family members, and saved for several days. All baths here have heaters to allow you to re-heat the old water, and ours has a one-touch computer that will fill the bath to the pre-set temperature and level. If you're a parent, you always take your kids in the bath with you and wash them. This warm concept of mother or father taking a bath with their children is known as "skinship" to the Japanese. Japanese are great fans of public baths (sento) and hot springs (onsens), too (e.g. Tokimeki Check in!). Since the water is "everyone's water," everyone must wash thoroughly before getting into the baths, although I've seen quite a few old men who skipped this step. As a foreigner living in Japan, I'm an "ambassador of goodwill" and what not, so I make sure I follow the rules. The Japanese are famous for bathing with men and women together (kon'yoku), but this is actually very rare.

For the before-weekend update, we've got a very update for you. The newly posted items include:

  • First, we have some new magazines, including the new issues of Best Video and Video Boy, the excellent all-purpose Japanese adult video magazines, filled with the hottest all-pro stars
  • For fans of our popular bargain adult magazines, we have a bunch of newly added magazines, starting from just $5 -- see magazine page 3 for the reduced items
  • Also for bargain fans, it seems we received some damaged copies of Beppin School, with the back covers cut off, probably due to some damage the books received during printing. The magazines themselves are in perfect condition, so if you don't mind a mostly-missing back cover, feel free to pick up a copy of Beppin School for a dirt-cheap price
  • For hentai manga lovers, we've got some excellent new manga volumes posted, as well as a major restock of popular volumes that had sold out
  • Also of note to hentai and doujinshi fans, we've restocked the popular hentai doujinshi anthology from Fusion Product, Lunatic Party. This is a thick manga-style collection of excellent Sailor Moon erotic parody doujinshi that's just great!
  • If you like doujinshi, we've got an excellent "doujin-soft" hentai work, a CD-ROM collection of erotic images from Sakura Wars -- and these are uncensored
  • If you love the popular Maiko Yuki, one of the most popular AV idols at J-List over the years, she's got a great new anime cosplay DVD out -- the Bondage Costume Play
  • Fans of Soft on Demand and "tekoki" (hand job) themes will love the new "coupling" DVD featuring two productions for the price of one
  • If you like small-bodied Japanese idols with deep, brown eyes and pure, white skin, check out the 'debut video' of the lovely new Rinka Yaguchi
  • For fans of our unique and wacky Japanese T-shirts, we're happy to announce our final two new shirts for you -- with the all-new "Watashi wa H" (I am a Hentai, e.g. I am a pervert) T-shirt, updated with a literary twist with a little help from 19th century Japanese author Soseki Natsume
  • Also for wacky T-shirt fans, we're happy to announce the official CM-Watch T-shirt, for those who want to support CM-Watch's efforts to bring you funny Japanese TV commercials. The shirt sports the color logo of CM-Watch on the front, with a super spoof of Pocari Sweat on the back
  • By request, we've got more wacky "traditional Japanese stuff," including various bowls for drinking miso soup. Made of simulated plastic but with the look and feel of expensive Japanese lacquerware, we think they're great
  • We have a major restocking of our Japanese snacks and food page, with fresh stock of the super-tart Shige-Kix candy, Pocari Sweat powered drink mix, delicious Roasted Coffee candy, Peko-chan milk caramel (yum), Kaori's favorite Strawberry Milk candy, and more
  • Finally, various odds and ends on our general Wacky Things from Japan page include a "Picky's Bear" cup to go with the bento boxes that have sold so well, more cute cutters to turn sausages into cute animal shapes, a nifty batch set so you can take a Japanese-style bath at home, the only Hello Kitty soy sauce dish you're likely to find, and the above-mentioned "My Handy Private Toilet Spray" for women (or men) who don't want to leave a toilet smelling bad.