Because names in Japanese are written in kanji, Chinese characters, they have meanings that are always interesting to foreigners. Western names have meanings, too -- my name, Peter, comes from "rock" in Greek, and "Payne" supposedly comes from the French "pain" (bread), similar to the English last name Baker. (I've probably a French baker in my ancestry.) Many names in Japan are written with the most elementary kanji, and reflect farming ancestries (despite that all Japanese insist their ancestors were samurai). Some characters used in many Japanese last names include:
Yama = Mountain
Ta (or da) = Rice field
Naka = Middle
Matsu = Pine
Uchi (or Nai) = Inside
Kawa (or Gawa) = River
Incidentally, having the kanji for "gold" (Kanai, Kaneko) indicates Korean ancestry (Kim in Korean).
Something else that foreigners living in Japan are always obsessed with is writing their own name in kanji. There are several ways to write Western names in Japanese, mainly by approximating the pronunciation and choosing some characters you like. If your name is George you can choose two characters with the readings of "jo" and "ji" which will come out pretty similar to George. I wanted to write my name in kanji, but there are no characters that are read "pe" or "pi," so I broke the rules, and put a circle next to the kanji I wanted to use (which is only done for hiragana). I accidentally registered that bizarre, 6-character name as my official name in Japan, too, so that now, when mail comes from the City Office, it's addressed to - which is read "Piitaa Pein." My wife groans every time she has to explain why her American husband has such a bizarre officially-registered name...
Japan has some interesting customs regarding the signing of official documents. For example, when we went to fill out the forms for our Bongo Friendee, we had to make sure we had our dually registered name stamp ("hanko"), which is used in place of a signature as a way of verifying a person's agreement. In order to officially stamp something, you often need a "stamp proof of registration" paper which you get from the local city office. Only stamps that are registered with the city are legally binding. The use of these stamps is somewhat puzzling to foreigners -- what's to stop someone from mugging you and stealing your stamp, then withdrawing all your money from the bank. For reasons that only the Japanese can probably understand, this nearly never happens. As the Japanese economy takes more queues from the outside world, credit cards are becoming carried more and more; since the credit card system uses handwritten signatures as verification, the Japanese are of course familiar with western-style signatures, too. Incidentally, you can now custom order real hanko stamps from J-List with virtually any last name you could want -- see the Wacky Things from Japan page for more info.
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For the first update of the month, we've got a very nice selection of excellent items for you, including:
- First, we've got the excellent new issues of Bejean and Gokuh, two excellent oversized adult magazines from Eichi, featuring some of the best girls Japan has to offer
- If you love the wonderful Mai Hagiwara, we've got a major restock of all of her previous sold out photobooks: Maichy, Tennyo and I Mai Me
- Also for photobook fans, the lovely photobook of busty idol Ai Nakayama
- If you're a fan of amateur sex and kogals, we've got a very nice item: Raw Gachinko Video, with 2+ hours of amateur AV for a very good price
- For fans of golden showers themes, there's a new photobook featuring very lovely AV idols in very pretty dressing peeing
- If you love doujinshi, we've got new doujinshi posted for you, both one-shot doujinshi purchased at the summer Comic Market as well as several new books that we have good stock of
- For our erotic manga fans, we've got a major restock of many of our most popular books, with many of our popular works back in stock -- check them out before they sell out again
- We've got some great new DVDs in, including Shy Deluxe 2001, featuring eight different popular actresses on one 120 minute DVD, and Sperm Angel 3 & 4, issued by Soft on Demand onto one great "coupling" DVD
- Also for DVD fans, fresh stock of some great items, including Akira Fubuki's only DVD release, Kaoru Tsunoda's "Twice" and the very nice Stress Actress Collection
- For overs of "anicos" or anime costume play, the lovely Honey Morimura dresses in a great variety of erotic costumes for you, including Cutey Honey, Cameraman Honey, and Stewardess Honey
- For fans of the excellent hentai game and anime Shusaku, we've got the Shusaku Animation Version Trading Collection, in stock!
- On our anime & toys page, we've got fresh stock of the Evangelion Kubrick EVA-02 Production Model, as well as the ne Evangelion Kubrick EVA-00 Prototype with Rei
- On our Wacky Things "Cute" page, we've got some cute Hello Kitty items from Japan, including Hello Kitty cupcake holders and some very cute Kitty-chan chopsticks
- We have new Japanese ukiyoe stickers on the Signs and Stickers "Wacky" page, as well as wacky astrological stickers for all piesces out there
- For our Japanese snack fans, see a popular item, Koala no March, or March of the Koalas, featuring little koala cookies that are filled with chocolate
- Finally, we have some very nice new "Wacky" things for you, including a device that removes humidity from your closets, the ultimate way to brew a cup or pot of coffee, Japanese style, and a line of very cool organizers for your desk that will hold your pens, mail, remote controls, business cards, and, for those who want to put their stamp on things, the aforementioned Japanese "hanko" stamps, available for custom order through J-List!