Friday, May 11, 2001

Greetings from J-List May 11, 2001

Hello again from your friends in Japan, J-List!

The Japanese use a lot of English words in their daily life, and depending on your age, spoken Japanese is often peppered with English words like stance, better, pretty, and so on. But when speaking Japanese, you have to "convert" the "English" words a bit before using them. The word "energy" is used in English, but it's pronounced with a hard G -- if you want people to understand you, you learn to pick up the new pronunciation, although it sounds odd at first. "Vitamin" is pronounced "bitamin," with a stress on the second syllable. Sometimes words come in via England, so they're unfamiliar to Americans like me -- a car's hood (bonetto), for example. And some "English" words aren't even English, but come from other languages, such as arubaito (part time job), anket (questionnaire), karte (a medical chart), and ruksak (a backpack). Because all foreign words are written in the Japanese katakana writing system, Japanese people tend to think that all these words are English.

Well, White Day is approaching. This is a silly Japanese day in which men must give a gift -- usually white chocolate -- to women who gave them chocolate on Valentine's Day. Convenience stores jump on the occasion to sell all manner of silly gifts, including many forms of chocolate. Men have an obligation to give chocolate back to people who gave them something, and shops know that they will sell a lot of "obligation chocolate" (giri choco) by March 14.

After several years of mocking Mazda's Bongo Friendee mini-van for having the strangest English of any Japanese car (right up there with the Mitsubishi Thanks Chariot and Toyota's Super Saloon), the versatility of this interesting, fun car finally wore me down, and we bought one. The continuing poor performance of the Japanese economy means that auto makers have to work hard and compete on price, so that helped our decision. The way you buy a car in Japan is quite different from how it's done in the U.S. Here, you always order a car and pick it up in 2-3 weeks, rather than getting it off a dealers' lot that day. Virtually all dealers are operated by the auto makers directly -- thus, you find only Mazda's at the local Mazda dealer (or maybe some Fords, since Ford owns most of Mazda). And as with deciding the date of your wedding, it's important to pick your car up on a "lucky day" according to special Buddhist calendar, to avoid problems and unhappiness. You can see the Bongo Friendee at http://www.friendee.mazda.co.jp/

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

  • First, some excellent new erotic magazines from Japan, including the new issues of the all-Japanese Penthouse Japan and Penthouse Special, which feature all Japanese models photographed by Japanese photographers, and more
  • For fans of the popular magazine + Video CD combo items, we've got a special item for you: the DVD & Video CD Perfect Guide IV, a massive all-color magazine with three VCDs filled with great erotic clips and "quickies" from a variety of genres
  • We've got more one-shot issues of older magazines at the of Magazine page 2
  • For leg fetish fans, we've got fresh stock of several items for you on the Leg Fetish photobooks page -- including a great new item, Costume Play Sisters, featuring a slew of erotic leg fetish cosplay
  • If you love Japan's unique S&M photobooks and related items, check out the new items on the Gouka-Bon page, including SM Net, a magazine + dual-Video CD combo item for S&M and bondage lovers
  • For photobook fans, we have several very nice all-new hardcover photobooks, as well as fresh stock of some popular items that had sold out
  • There are several excellent new erotic wide mangas posted to the manga pages, including new titles from Tsukasa and Hit Comics, as well as fresh stock of several popular items (including some great large-breast manga items)
  • Love dojinshi? We've got three, count them, three great erotic dojinshi from the Angel Pain series, including stock of the popular all-color Angel Pain vol. 5
  • For yaoi lovers, we have the handsome new Be Boy Gold, the deluxe erotic yaoi manga monthly with nearly 500 pages of great artwork for you
  • The "Puchi Angel" offering from Soft on Demand, featuring pure, pretty Japanese girls and lots of wonderful sailor school uniform themes, was a big hit -- so we've added two new videos in this popular series. See them on the SOD Main page (for the ones we have in stock) or the SOD special-order page (if we run out of stock on hand)
  • For fans of the lovely Morishita Kurumi, there's a super erotic release on DVD (region 2), the Bright Blue Wood, with *90* minutes of excellent erotic AV by this special lady
  • By customer request, we've created a great new page for you -- Anime DVDs, where we'll carry the unique anime DVDs released here in Japan. these anime DVDs are always of the highest quality, and while they are expensive, they give a lot of value (6 episodes per disc, long playing times). For starters, we've got the first two discs of Mach Go Go Go, the original series known as Speed Racer outside Japan, and the fantastic OVA Complete Collection of Iczer One -- with the entire anime series on one DVD!
  • We love updating our Wacky Things from Japan pages, but unfortunately, we got so much cool, bizarre stuff in stock that the page got overcrowded. So, we've made a Wacky Things (Cute) page to go with our Wacky Things (Main) page. We've added some great items to this page, including a super Hello Kitty box with lid and drawer (so cute for your desk) as well as fresh stock of many popular items
  • Finally, our popular Wacky Things from Japan page has also been updated, with a spiffy back massager (great for people who get itchy backs), the ultimate milk carton sealer (certified as being "really cool" by my mother, who bought them as gifts when she came to Japan), and more.

Remember that you can get any three of our $24.95 bishojo anime games for $70, shipping in US/Canada included. This is like getting $20 off, and it's a great deal. You can choose from Hentai Anime Poker, Three Sisters' Story, Season of the Sakura, Runaway City, Nocturnal Illusion, May Club, or even the enigmatic Transfer Student (which really, really come out some day). These games are in English, and are uncensored, so they're really cool.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Greetings from J-List May 9, 2001

Hello from Japan, where a car's blinker is called a "winker."

One of the more enjoyable pasttimes to engage in when learning Japanese is to memorize useless kanji for words that aren't usually written in kanji (mainly because the kanji are too hard for Japanese to remember). One way to write the word "urusai" (which means "loud" or "annoying" and is the basis of the name of the 80s anime Urusei Yatsura) is literally "May flies" (as in, the dirty little insects that reproduce so much in the month of May). I've never figured out why Japan is overrun with flies in May, but they're everywhere, buzzing and basically being "urusai." We've got fly paper hung in the kitchen to keep them from getting into the rice cooker.

Japan is one country where a pocketful of change can be a serious amount of money. Because the Japanese use coins for 100 and 500 yen denominations of their money (roughly equal to US$1 and $5), it's quite common for a handful of change to be a lot of money indeed -- $20 or more. I'm all for the U.S. Government taking the bold step of eliminating the $1 bill altogether, without giving any choice to consumers. A coin is just as easy to use as a bill, and the savings from using coins over paper for the $1 unit would be in the millions. I'm sure it'll happen right after the Metric System gets adopted, however...

In addition to these cool CD-ROM titles, we've got some great items for you, including:

  • Many new 18+ items
  • For fans of our unique Japanese snack foods, we've got a major update, including fresh stock of many candy items, Pokemon gummi, Pocky and Toppo, delicious miso soup with asari (clams) in it, sweet dried plums, and more
  • We have more of our trademark Silly Wooden Signs with funny messages in Japanese on them, including the most popular sign we've ever carried -- the famous "Do not urinate here" sign
  • New items on the Wacky Things from Japan page include the ultimately cute trash can for your desk, a beautiful bamboo flower pot made of charred bamboo, We've also added fresh stock of many items that had sold out, including several varieties of our popular $5 Japanese-English dictionaries.

Imagine yourself walking down the street. Suddenly, you run into some Japanese people, preferably the cute kind. They might nod and walk on by, but if you're wearing a funny Japanese T-shirt from J-List, who knows what could happen? We've got T-shirts that communicate cool messages like, "I want to be Japanese" or "I'm looking for a Japanese girlfriend." If you want to confuse and confound just for the fun of it, how about "Hentai gaijin" (perverted foreigner) or the perplexing "Self-loathing." If you admire the beauty of Chinese characters, we recommend "Daikoku-bashira" (big black pillar) or our "Happiness" T-shirts. If you secretly wish you were Japanese, send that message with a J-List shirt, too. And since we now offer free shipping on many of our T-shirts, as we try to make room for new designs, it's a great time to check out what we've got to offer.

Monday, May 07, 2001

Greetings from J-List May 7, 2001

Hello again from Japan, where a movie release is called "road show." We were slowed down last week by both the Golden Week problems as well as some server hiccups, but we're back, with a great update for J-List fans. The page is working fine now, although not that we are keeping most of the large images off the server to avoid the problems coming back (please forgive our dead links).

Well, Japan feels just a little more like home to me, now that the local Toys "R" Us is open. I took the kids there for a treat on opening day, and was surprised to see thousands of Japanese, getting into the spirit of American consumerism. On the other hand, what the Market gives, the Market taketh away: Burger King has unfortunately retreated from their foray into the Tokyo fast food market, and has sold the leases to their dozen or so stores to -- ugh -- Lotteria. Back to eating at the Subway in Ocha-no-mizu.

All languages have different elements which are new to learners coming in from other languages. In Japanese, there are long and short vowels -- the sounds "ko" and "koh" are two completely different phonetic concepts in Japanese, just as L and R are in English. It can be confusing when learning Japanese: ojisan means "uncle" but ojiisan (note the extra "i") means "grandfather." The long/short sounds are so completely separate that Japanese don't even hear a similarity in the sounds. I once had a student named Ohno Yoko (Yoko, not Yohko). When I pointed out that her name was similar to the wife of the former Beatle (which is Yohko, with the long vowel), she told me she'd never thought of that in her life.

The long/short vowels also cause problems when transliterating Japanese into English. For example, Akimoto Yuna's name is really Yuuna, not Yuna (long vowel), but it's tedious and pointless to write her name the "correct" way when it makes no difference to how the name is pronounced. At J-List, we generally transliterate names and words in whatever way makes them shortest and clearest, especially from the standpoint of pronunciation -- thus, we'd use "Yuna" in the above example. We usually write words like bishoujo, doujinshi as bishojo and dojinshi, although it's technically less accurate. Sometimes AV actresses have an "official" English spelling, or one that's very accepted (Tohno Natsuko, Ohura Anna), we usually use those. It's a difficult situation -- the multiple spellings is a big challenge for search engines, for example -- but it's all part of Japanese.

Announcing the Spring Video Sale! We're a bit overstocked on our popular AV videos, so we've moved tons of titles to the Discount Video page. In addition to free SAL shipping, until the end of May you can buy 3 and get the 4th video free. The videos must be in stock (not a problem, we've got hundreds in stock now). The lowest priced video is the "free" one, so if you choose four videos of similar price, it's like getting 25% off.

For the first update of a fresh week, we've got some nice items for you, including:

  • Many new 18+ items
  • For Japanese idol fans, we've got stock of the newest Morning Musume card set -- the Priname Petit Card series -- only $2.50 per pack!
  • There is fresh stock of the silly wooden sign that has "Now being punished" (oshioki-chu) on it
  • We have limited stock (one set of each, actually) of FULL SETS of the Cardcaptor Sakura keychain and Cardcaptor Sakura stationary set -- both very lovely! See the Anime Snacks page for these items.
  • We have fresh stock of several cool items on our Wacky Things from Japan, including the surprisingly popular train/bus pass holder, Japanese vocabulary word cards, wacky Japanese notebooks with funny English written on them, and more. We've also added new items, including a very nice new Japanese "noren" room curtain (add a touch of Japanese style to your room), a wonderful Japanese pouch that can hold your digital camera or MP3 player, and more.

We're looking for a person knowledgeable about Japan's bishojo games, who can help work up an article for publication in a major adult magazine. If you have a writing background and are preferably published, please talk to us. Thanks!