Friday, August 17, 2001

Greetings from J-List August 17, 2001

Hello again from Japan, the birthplace of "Vermont Curry."

Well, my wife Chiharu and son Kazuki are off to the U.S. for "their turn" in America. Rina and I got to go to San Diego in June and July, and now it's time for the other half of our family to go get their "America fix." My son will attend a summer school program, interacting with other kids and having fun, and he'll also be taking some special swimming lessons. My wife will shop, enjoy being in the house in San Diego, and see some of her friends that live in the U.S. (including Kiyomi, the Japanese woman who always says what's on her mind "because that's what Americans do"). Daughter Rina and I are sad to see them go, but on the other hand, most married will probably agree, it's quite fun for a man to get some time rattling around the house without the wife around. I can read in my underwear, indulge in that extra can of beer, and watch Simpsons reruns until 3 am.

Meanwhile, with her mother and brother gone, daughter Rina has fallen back into the habit of speaking English with me, something which I encourage whenever I can. We get along quite well in English, although she comes up with some perplexing sentences, such as, "I want to be a Post Office." I'm sure Kazuki's English will get really good while he's in the U.S., too. As a general rule, my wife and I are the last two people on earth who get to see the "American" side of our own kids. Since we speak Japanese, and since we've got a "Japanese relationship" with our kids, we almost never get to see them speaking English at all -- and one thing I've learned, once you establish a certain custom of speaking a language with a person, you can almost never change that in the future. Learning about how bilingual people talk to each other and what patterns emerge from their interaction is a very interesting subject.

When my mother was a teenager, she had a child and gave the baby up for adoption. After several years of searching for her her son, digging her way through various layers of beauracratic resistance, she found her son -- suddenly, I've got an older brother -- and we're all very happy. If you are interested in learning more about how you can use the Internet to find a birthmother or child, she recommends a site called Plum Site (http://www.plumsite.com/), founded by Damsel Plum, a child who was given up for adoption herself.

We continue to get some people who are shopping at the new J-List site for the first time, trying to figure out what their password is. If you're using the new J-List site for the first time, please checkout as a "new user" (you're new to the new system, even if we've got you on file here). You'll be able to set up your new account for fast checkout in the future.

For this weekend's update, we've got some extra-special items lined up for you, including:

  • First, we've got several nice new magazines, including both new Penthouse issues, and the new issue of "Let's do Evil Play"
  • For collectors' we have several premium past issues of Urecco, which we've posted on the top of Magazine page 4
  • Photobook lovers should check out the new hardcover photobooks we've posted, including Nozomi Saitoh's lovely swimsuit photobook, and more -- also, fresh stock of Garo Aida's Strawberry Diaries
  • For fans of our "gouka-bon" or high-end bondage and fetish photobooks page, we've got an update, including an item for fans of Japanese "new half" erotica
  • We also have fresh stock of the can't-keep-them-in-stock Crystal Card Japanese adult video idol collectible card series
  • It's doujinshi season around here, and we've got even more very nice, very rare items for you -- these always tend to go fast, of course, so check out the doujinshi page and get them while they're hot
  • Not to be outdone, the manga page has been updated, with many new very nice erotic manga works for you, including some fabulous volumes by Fujimi and Tenma Comics that we highly recommend
  • Chihiro Inoue and Julie Morikawa, two very well endowed lovely ladies, perform in a great new video for you, W Climax (that is, Double Climax -- the letter "W" denotes "double" to the Japanese)
  • For DVD fans, the lovely Minami Asaoka will assist your masturbation, while 10 lovely Campaign Girls (an offshoot of Race Queens) perform erotic fun in a 160 minute Cam-Girl DVD
  • For anime fans, we've got the new Kubrick Evangelion releases, including both very cool versions of the Eva-01 Test Type -- but stock is limited
  • For fans of the very cool idols, check out the Last Alive collectible card series, featuring some very nice girls
  • On our popular "Wacky Signs and Stickers" page, we've got authentic Japanese "ladies" and "gentlemen" bathroom signplates, for those without enough wackiness in their homes
  • On our Japanese snacks & gum pages, we've got fresh stock of the very popular Japanese Roasted Coffee hard candy, which folks tell us is delicious
  • We've also updated our other Wacky Things pages, with a host of useful (and sometimes just funny) items. Today we've posted fresh stock of Japanese mosquito incense (very effective at keeping mosquitos away in the summer), some very nice traditional Japanese chopsticks, Japanese food erasers, fresh stock of our best-selling Hello Kitty toilet paper and other Kitty-chan items, and authentic umbrella condoms from Japan!

J-Mate (http://www.jmate.com) has been updated again, this time with a review of the very cool Anna Ohura II photobook. Check it out!

Finally, we've decided to start a "Glossary of Terms" for the J-List site, giving definitions and information on many of the terms that we use on the site -- from "hentai" to "anime" to "bukkake." If you have any feedback on the glossary, including suggesting some terms that confuse you, please let us know. Thanks! See the link to the glossary right below the category links.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Greetings from J-List August 15, 2001

Greetings from your friends at J-List!

Happy End of the War Day. August 15 is the day that Japan officially surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II. Prime Minister Koizumi was supposed to visit Yasukuni Shrine today, but he made the trip two days early as a concession to China and South Korea, who objected to the symbolism of him making his visit no the anniversary of Japan's defeat. Yasukuni Shrine is where the souls of all the soldiers who died in World War II are remembered, but because 14 Japanese war criminals are also interred at the shrine, the Prime Minister making a visit is, to some, tantamount to a German or Austrian leader visiting the birthplace of Adolf Hitler on the anniversary of his birth. However, since Yasukuni is the only memorial to Japan's war dead (sort of the Iwo Jima Memorial and Anne Frank's house, all rolled into one), it would be equally difficult for the Prime Minister not to go pay his respects to the soldiers who died during the war. It's a sticky situation, indeed.

Japanese TV is always interesting to watch. On one popular show, hosted by a popular Japanese comedian named Sanma, they have a great lineup of funny things they repeat each week. In one part of the show, they have very young people, say, a young kogal who is worried about her boyfriend, receive advice from a very old man in his 80's. It's interesting to see the differences between young and old. Then they have "World's Funniest English," in which they make a Japanese person who can't really speak English explain something complex and difficult in English, while putting the literal translation of what he's really saying on the screen. (They also make gaijin speak Japanese, too.) There's a "Speed Quiz" in which drunk salarymen are have to call a friend and find the answer to a question (usually something young people would all know easily), all while on a hidden camera. The show features famous actresses and TV "talents" (i.e., talented people who are in the entertainment world), who talk with each other and try to guess what funny thing will happen next.

Are you healthing? If so, maybe you've been reading some of the silly English slogans Japanese companies come up with to get your business. A new word -- "traing," which means "to travel around Japan by train" -- has been christened by Japan Railroad, who wants you to consider traveling around Japan by train. They also invented the term "nice middy," which is a happy term for middle-aged women, to try to promote travel by housewives. Want to find out where you're going? Just reach for Mapple, the map book with the big picture of an apple on it. Finally, the Sanwa Home construction company summed up how they want you to feel about the houses they build: "home, homer, homest." Works for me.

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

  • First of all, we're happy to announce that the next game from Peach Princess, Critical Point, is available for preorder now. The first advanced SF bishoujo game to be brought out to the English market, it is a very deep and enjoyable multi-scenario game that fans will enjoy
  • The new Cream, and some other very nice magazines as well, including Peach Water, a magazine just for bathing suit fetish fans
  • We have some nice new photobooks for you, including a very special Goddess photobook of Rui Sakuragi, one of the most popular AV idols of the 1990's, and fresh stock of Anna Ohura's dynamite i-Nude
  • Weekend Party, which features 13 very popular AV idols in a variety of sexy cosplay shots (including Jun Kusanagi as a Mini-Suka Police woman), is very cool
  • We have several all-new adult manga posted, including the very stylish and cool Strawberry Babaloa and Cat Pudding (just love the names those artists come up with...)
  • We also have some more doujinshi posted, for doujinshi fans, including some nice titles
  • For fans of busty Japanese ladies, we recommend the new video release of Yoko Takashima, in the popular Menu series
  • For DVD fans, we've got two nice new offerings. In Animax 2, see super erotic "anicos" (that is, anime cosplay), with lovely erotic girls in costumes from Japanese anime and popular bishoujo games, being major creamed. Then, explore the lewd world of two female teachers in a new offering from Soft on Demand
  • Do you Love Hina? If so, we've got a new item for you: a handy set of the Love Hina bilingual manga (vol. 1-6), on the new English Manga page
  • For fans of Hiroki Yagami's very sexy G-Taste creations, we've got an item that should prove popular with J-List fans: the G-Taste Cosplay Trading Card series, on the idol and photobook pages
  • If you like the oddly shaped Kubrick toy line, we've got fresh stock of the Kubrick Evangelion Eva-00 (with Rei and Lilith) and Eva-02 (with Asuka and an Angel)
  • We have fresh stock and all-new stock of a surprisingly popular item: the wacky message buttons we've started carrying. See them all on the Wacky Stickers & Signs page
  • For fans of traditional Japanese snacks, we've got an all-new item, Japanese "Kazaguruma mint" hard candies, which date back from the Edo period, as well as fresh stock of Japanese kuro-ame ("black candy")
  • Finally, we've got a good update of our Wacky Things from Japan items, including a delightful Akasuri glove towel (to remove dead skin cells from your body in the bath or shower), a super-cute letter set for kids, fresh stock of "body glitter" for anyone who wants to be "kirameki stylish," and a handy strip of all-purpose glow in the dark reflective tape that has many uses.

J-Mate (http://www.jmate.com), a very cool site where you can read English interviews with real Japanese AV idols, has been updated with a very nice interview with Rie Tomosaki. You can also read reviews of several bishoujo games, DVD and more. Want to write a review of something for J-Mate? Please contact reviews@jmate.com!

To see all the new products at J-List, just click this link: http://www.jlist.com/cgi-bin/shop.cgi?function=updates&days=3&rating=R

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Greetings from J-List August 14, 2001

Greetings again from a very humid Japan!

The Japanese recession continues, but some parts of the Japanese economy are still doing well. House construction is up, for example, as people take advantage of the "0% interest" strategy the government has pushed for the past two years, making the real rate about 1.9% (before you ask, no, we can't arrange a Japanese loan for anyone ^_^). Cars are also selling well. This year's selling cars are Toyota Corolla, Honda's new "Fit" (a very small, cute car for women to drive), Honda's Step WGN (pronounced "step wagon"), and Toyota Estima (Toyota's "ingenious egg" according to their commercials). Sales of foreign cars are also up, with Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW being the major beneficiaries. Volkswagen leads the foreign car market here, with 14% of the foreign market.

Well, the existence of God has been proven once and for all: we have an actual Starbucks in Gunma Prefecture. It opened at the single most metropolitan spot in our fair prefecture of 2 million, inside the train station of Takasaki, the largest city in Gunma. We'd love to go enjoy a frosty Frapachino some time, but unfortunately, everyone else in Gunma has the same idea, and you can't get into the place without waiting 45 minutes or more.

We continue to limp along without our air conditioner, hoping it will be fixed soon. Meanwhile, summer is always an interesting time to be in Japan, mainly to enjoy the "usugi" or thin, revealing clothes that girls wear. This year's fashions includes bras that use clear plastic for the shoulder straps, making them appear "invisible." The effect is rather nice.

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

  • First of all, we've got several great new magazines for you, including the lovely new issue of Dela Beppin, a new issue of Haay Gachinko Musume, and more!
  • For photobook fans, see the wonderful hardcover photobook of Hitomi Hayasaki, and more
  • For hentai magazine fans who like the popular magazines we carry, we've got several in-stock issues of Bug Bug and E-Login for you, and all issues come with a demo CD-ROM inside
  • If you love Japan's erotic manga, we've got some great new products for you, with super new manga by Mujin Comics, Hit Comics, Angel Comics, and more -- also, fresh stock of many sold out books, including the runaway bestseller Puri Puri Mermaid
  • Also: we've got doujinshi! We've posted over two dozen nice doujinshi for doujinshi fans, so check out the new items, as these single issues will go fast
  • For Japanese adult video and leg fans, check out the new Mini-Skirt Street, a fun video featuring three lovely, leggy Japanese women and high heels
  • For DVD fans, some nice new items, including the lovely erotic performance of Kaori Shimamura, as well as a super Zamen Gokkun Best Selection DVD from Soft on Demand, for bukkake lovers; for those with region-free DVD players, a dynamite erotic DVD featuring Aoi Minori
  • We've also gotten fresh stock of many of our popular adult DVD titles, including Mai Hagiwara's "The Secret of Mirukuru," Emily Yoshikawa's "Poison," and the very cool Kuki 20th Anniversary sampler DVD titles
  • If you love Japan's colorful anime magazines, we've got some issues of Animage from a couple of months ago, complete with all posters inside
  • For fans of the Ultraman TV characters, we've got one more box of the very cool Ultraman Hero cards
  • We've got a new flavor of delicious Xylitol gum, a sugarless gum that tastes great (Kaori especially recommends it)
  • If you love the delicious snacks from Japan, see our snacks page: we've got fresh stock of Pocky, the original chocolate covered pretzel, and Toppo, a delicious baked chocolate snack
  • If you love bizarre messages in Japanese, we've got several nice items for you, including fresh stock of a popular Japanese headband, new "Looking for a beautiful woman" stickers, and the totally insane Buddha Man (so stupid, he's cool!) -- see these on the headbands and stickers page
  • Finally, for fans of things with funny English on them, we've got a handy little spiral notebook with insane English printed on the front, as well as a nifty train map of Japan showing all train routes, and more!

Sunday, August 12, 2001

Greetings from J-List August 12, 2001

Hi again, from the land where soft-serve ice cream is known as the much more delicious-sounding term, "soft cream."

Lightning strikes! Last summer, the J-List office was struck by lightning, which caused our big air conditioner (which we informally refer to the Giver of All Life and Happiness) to die for a week during the hottest part of the summer. After a freak lightning storm on Friday night that made national news, the J-List office has been hit again -- and we have lost our air conditioner again! Hopefully it will be a minor repair, as it was last time, but the timing is really terrible, as it happened on Friday night before the week-long Obon holiday. Doh! The lightning also managed to kill our phones, and knock out our internet connection (the one we use from Japan, not the one the J-List site is served from). This has been a hell of a day. Now if we can just get that air-con fixed before it heats up again.

Speaking of heat, by the time you read this, I'll be basking in it. Comic Market 60 is going on in Tokyo, at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center (you can see the famous inverted pyramid as it gets destroyed in Godzilla vs. Destroyer), and Yasu and I will be making the pilgrimage on Sunday to talk with doujinshi circles about letting us sell their works on J-List. A massive doujinshi convention in which about 50,000 fans line up to spend hundreds of dollars on these extremely popular amateur-printed comics, Comic Market (or "Comiket" as its called) is held twice a year, in the summer (sweaty, dripping hell) and in the winter (blessedly cold and refreshing). Inside Big Sight, there are four large halls jam-packed with doujinshi circles selling doujinshi (comics) as well as CG collections on CD-ROM, cute hand-made tributes to their favorite anime character, and more. We try, but I never have time to get through more than two of them before the event is over. Because there is no air conditioning in any of the halls, our bodie will be completely drenched in sweat by the time we're done, despite the towels I bring with me to stuff in my clothes. Yasu and I will do our best.

I'm a big fan of video games, and have loved them ever since the days of Berserk and Star Castle. Whenever my son and I go to our favorite public bath ("Furo 21"), we stop off and play a few games at the Sega ge-sen (Japanese for "game center"). We can only afford to play a few, since video games cost 100 yen here in Japan, which is roughly $1 per game, compared to a quarter or 50 cents in the States. Actually, many of the really exotic games are $2 to play. But the extra income from the higher video game prices comes back to consumers in the form of some really cool games. Of course there are the ones that show up all over the world, the Virtua Fighter 4's, the shooting games, and so on. One of my current favorites is a Japanese taiko drum game, in which you have to hit the Japanese drum (either the face of the drum or the rim around the drum, which produce different kinds of sounds) in tune with the song you're playing. There's also a funky "photographer game" out, in which you're a photographer with a camera on a wire, trying to catch great shots at sporting events. Every game center in Japan has a large amount of floor space devoted to "UFO catcher" (crane games) as well as "puri-kura" (print clubs, i.e. those cute machines that take your picture and print it onto stickers), which are solid money-makers here in Japan. Another major trend in video game entertainment is the rebirth of "retro" games that were popular in the 80s and early 90's, like Crazy Climber, Donkey Kong, and the original Street Fighter II. Some of them are cool, but at $1 per pop, I'll stick to Mame.

Everywhere I look, I see more and more signs that Japan really is in a deflationary spiral. We're all used to prices going up a little bit as time goes by, but in Japan, the rule is "Japan's prices are high to begin with, but the rate of inflation is low." This seems odd, but somehow it accurately describes the movement of prices here in Japan -- actually, during the nine years I've lived in Japan, I can't think of a single thing that went up in price, except for train fare to Tokyo (which was raised fro, $16 to $18 a few years ago). Now, signs that prices are actually coming down are everywhere. Beef bowl (that all-important economic indicator) now costs just $2.80, $2 less than it did a few months ago. Many food items that were $1.20 are now under $1. You can even find the 500 ml PET bottles of tea, which usually go for $1.50, for $1 if you look. More than just certain prices dropping, I feel there's a new attitude of "cheapness" present in Japanese consumers, who were known in the past for spending money on all sorts of silly things (like toilets that clean and dry your butt, complete with remote control). Now, consumers want value and low prices, even if it means shopping at Fresay instead of Shimizu Supermarket because their instant coffee is 68 yen instead of 88 yen. This is a good thing in some ways, but if Japanese housewives are being extra-stingy with their pennies, it will make it that much harder for Japan's economy to grow in the future. At the Comic Market on Friday, I watched a huge line of people wait for 30 minutes in the hot sun to ride the free bus to Tokyo Statin, rather than pay the 400 yen to ride the Yurikamome train (a very pleasant train line that takes you up and over Tokyo bay).

Well, we hope you are having a great weekend -- hopefully cooler than Japan is right now!