Saturday, December 15, 2001

Greetings from J-List December 15, 2001

Hello from Japan on a very windy Saturday!

The terrorist attacks have changed many things, and one area that's been affected is the tourist industry in Hawaii, which has seen a massive reduction in the numbers of Japanese tourists in the past three months. My wife receives many emails from travel agencies trying to get Japanese to start buying airline tickets again, and some of the fares are ridiculously low (I could literally fly from Tokyo to Los Angeles for less than it costs to go from Los Angeles to Monterey). Seeing this reaction by Japanese, who have also stopped going to the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa (oo, lots of terrorists there!) caused my Japanese wife to shout "Baka nihonjin!" (What stupid Japanese). The prospect of being able to go to Hawaii cheaply and not be surrounded by millions of Japanese tourists has my wife and I thinking of taking a trip soon. It's the patriotic thing to do, after all.

Last December 10 was the anniversary of the day my father passed away, which is his "mei-nichi" (or life-day) in Japanese. I've lived in Japan for nine years now, and much of the country has rubbed off on me, so much that I even start talking like a Japanese person sometimes when I'm not careful (ha-ha). But partially through my wife Chiharu, I've learned a lot about Japan's version of Buddhism and how the Japanese feel about death.

Japanese Buddhism differs from the "fasting, self-denial and enlightenment" Buddhism found in other Asian countries, in that it's really about remembering (some would say worshipping) one's ancestors. "If it weren't for your parents, and your parents' parents, you wouldn't be here," she has said tome. When foreigners come here, one of the most common first impressions they have is that "everything's about death." You're not supposed to stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice, because this is done only in connection with funerals (offering a last bowl of rice to the departed). You're never supposed to hand food from chopsticks to chopsticks because it resembles the large tongs used to remove the bones after someone is cremated. And you're not supposed to give gifts in sets of four, as the number four in Japanese is "shi" which also means "death" (thus, gift sets you buy in stores tend to have 5 of each item, not 4).

There are many customs that are connected with death in Japan, but boiled down to its core, it's about remembering those who have gone before us so that they will know they are loved and remembered. In a way, I think it gives peace to the living, who know that if they remember those who have died, they themselves will be remembered when it is their turn. (If you're curious about the life of my father, Peter R. Payne Sr., please see http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/graeme/prpayne.htm).

For the update to the site for this weekend, we've got another great volley of new products for you, including:

  • First, we've got the new issue of Gokuh in, and it's a very nice one, featuring some of the most popular girls at J-List, like Ai Kurosawa and Hitomi Hasegawa and more
  • For fans of Japan's popular bishoujo (aka "hentai") games, we have the new issue of the popular Push!!, which features a CD-ROM filled with sample images, wallpapers, sound files and demos
  • We've added fresh stock of very nicely-priced magazines, on magazines page 3, for bargain-hunters
  • Another item that's great for value-minded customers is the DVD & Video CD Soft Catalog, a magazine that gives you 2 video CDs with 2 hours of fun sampler AV footage for a great price
  • For photobook lovers, we've got the new Tennyo, this time featuring the lovely Koharu Tohno with lots of excellent photos taken on Father Island in Thailand, as well as fresh stock of the Emily Yoshikawa photobook that sold out so quickly
  • For bondage lovers, check out the Crime of Bondage DVD & magazine set, which features a region free DVD with 2 hours of great material
  • We've got some great hentai manga for you, including new releases from Mujin Comics, Toen Comics and the hentai illustrator Wataru Watanabe, as well as a major restock of titles like Blue Eyes, Fetish Doll,
  • For yaoi fans, we've got a nice new "non stop lover boys comic" for you
  • For doujinshi lovers, we've got a positively killer new *all color* Street Fighter II hentai work, that's just beautiful -- why not buy 5 doujinshi, and get $4 off each one (for a total of $20)?
  • The response to our new selection of Japanese indies videos and DVDs has been excellent, so we've got some more for you, from the new companies we're carrying as well as SOD
  • From Moodyz, we've got the dynamite Dream Gakuen, an erotic tale of sex and private lessons (140 minutes!), and also the very interesting Black Semen, in which Kurumi Aoyama performs with dozens of black men
  • From the excellent Audaz, enjoy performances by the lovely Yuna Miyazawa, who is made to do embarrassing things on camera, and a very erotic production starring the erotic and grown-up Natsumi Kawahama (video and DVD available)
  • From Waap Entertainment, we have a killer "chijo" (slut) performance by the stylish Akira Watase, and an all-new Dream Shower performance by the famous Aika Miura
  • From Wanz Factory, we have some excellent new products for you, including a very nice cosplay by Bunko Kanazawa, Ai Nagase's excellent "How to Perfect," Kyoka Usami's "Special AV training" and a new "Be Covered Shameful Lady" title
  • The Aroma adult videos were among the most poplar added last time, and we've got a new one from this rare AV studio, a nice item for fans of "new half" (she-male) sexual themes
  • From Soft on Demand, we have an incredibly bold White Sexual Desire bukkake offering, in which the lovely Shinobu Kasagi takes 112 loads of sperm willingly
  • Also, positively wonderful new releases from Anna Ohura ("Maxumim Bust") and the lovely new up-and-coming Aya Otosaki both on video (see "Adult Videos (Pro)")
  • Japan is experiencing hamster-mania right now, as the most popular kids show is Tottoko Hamutaro, about a cute little hamster and his friends. We've got new hamster items for you, including Hamutaro ochazuke (delicious food you eat over rice), Hamster Club chopsticks, and on our snacks page, delicious gummi Hamutaro!
  • Our Japanese New Year's decorations sold out so fast, we got fresh stock of several items for you, as well as some nice new good luck decorations that promote traffic safety. Also in stock are some really cool authentic New Years' cards (nengajo)!
  • We've restocked several of our bento-related items, including cute little cutters to make sausages look like penguins, tulips and crabs
  • Our Japanese headbands (hachimaki) sell so well, we've restocked several of them, including "Nippon Ichi" ("The best in all Japan")
  • See fresh stock of many of our popular "wacky" things from Japan, including sushi and onigiri makers, funny soy sauce holders, more stock of Japanese resume forms, Hello Kitty cookies (they're really good), the stylish coffee dripper, and our super Tofu Saver refrigeration box
  • Finally, in Japan around the end of the year, department stores make "happiness bags" (fukubukuro) which have random things inside -- clothes, jewelry, various fun things. In this tradition, Mayumi has put together some very nice Hello Kitty "happiness bags" with various fun (and useful) things inside. Plus, the bag is very useful and cute, too!

Have you heard J-List's ad on the radio? During the past few months we've been sponsoring an independent anime radio show on WHFC, which is heard in parts of Baltimore, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania. If you heard about J-List through the radio spots, please let us know. Also, we've started running an ad in Animerica. If you first saw J-List because of these ads, we'd appreciate hearing from you. Thanks!

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Greetings from J-List December 13, 2001

Greetings from a very busy J-List!

When you're a foreigner living in Japan, it's always nice to have familiar things around you. With a great job like J-List that allows me to have fun all day and go to home several times a year, I consider myself the luckiest gaijin in Japan. Because I get to home to San Diego so often, there's never a shortage of American shaving cream, breakfast cereal and Listerine at my house. Foreigners who don't get to go home as often can go to one of the many supermarkets that stock food from foreign countries, if you live in or near a city like Tokyo or Kobe, but if you're in a rural area like Gunma Prefecture, the most popular way to get familiar food is the Foreign Buyers' Club, a company started by an American family that will get you anything you want from the States, from bagels to taco shells to granola -- the only catch is that you must buy it in supermarket cases, which usually means 12 boxes of cereal, 6 huge containers of dill pickles, and so on. The URL, if you want to see their site, is http://www.fbcusa.com/public2/index.php3

One of the first things foreigners notice when they come to Japan is that all food seems to be wrapped extremely well -- far too well, some might argue. Kaori brought in some Oreos to work, and I was surprised that they were individually wrapped with color-printed foil wrapping. Pick up a Kit Kat bar, and you'll find there's another wrapping of airtight wax paper around the snack, that's not there in Kit Kats sold in the U.S. It works the other way, however, and Japanese are sometimes surprised how flimsy American packaging can be. When Kaori opened the Kraft macaroni and cheese which we ordered from the Foreign Buyers' Club, she was surprised that the macaroni was right there, inside the box, without a second airtight bag inside.

Today's the day we're going live with our huge selection of Japanese indies videos and DVDs by famous indies houses like Wanz Factory, Waap, Moodyz and Audaz. Thanks to strong customer demand and the hard work of Tomo, we've been able to obtain distribution relationships with some of Japan's best erotic AV studios, whose products are almost never available to customers living outside of Japan. Over the past half-decade there's been a massive boom of indies AV in Japan, spearheaded by companies like SOD and others, and it has split the adult video world into two groups: the "pro" video houses like Kuki, Alice Japan and Uchu Kikaku, whose products are checked by the Video Morality Association (Bideo Rinri Kyoukai), versus the independent AV studios, whose products are not checked by the VMA but are "self-checked" instead. As a rule you can expect much harder hardcore, much finer mosaics, and visible pubic hair and more. Each indies studio has a slightly different style, and so we've made separate product categories for each group. You can browse all the indies videos and DVDs viewing the "View all Indies" category.

We've got a small bug in our site, which causes the "show cart" link to show the main page instead or showing you your current shopping cart contents. We're on it, but in the meantime you can still check out normally (just add an item to your cart and then checkout from there). The new checkout script, which will have a very cool "express checkout" for making purchases fast, will be ready soon.

For this very special update, we've got a huge selection of new products for you, including:

  • First, we've got new magazines posted, including (yes!) more of our popular $5-$6 magazines. Also among the reposted magazines are many "long lost" issues of Urecco that had sold out (but were really sleeping in our stock room)
  • For fans of photobooks we have fresh stock of the excellent lesbian Flowers photobook, as well as a nice item featuring Eriko Satoh
  • If you love Japan's famous leg, stocking and mini-skirt fetish material, look for more photobooks and other items on the leg fetish photobooks page
  • For lovers of Japan's very specialized hardcore bondage photography, we highly recommend the new issue of The Most Obscene Slave, featuring 16 different models and some of the most amazing bondage and medical fetish pictures we've seen
  • For fans of Japan's hentai manga, we've got a fresh update for you, with new adult comic works by Watanabe Wataru and many others, as well as fresh stock of the very popular "Nationally Treasured Breast Girl Chami"
  • For fans of hentai doujinshi themes that parody existing anime and video game characters like Street Fighter II, see the new Electric Fighting Daughter vol 13
  • Speaking of doujinshi, we've got some dynamite items for you from Saigado and others, but our stock is limited, so snap it up while you can -- of course our big manga sale is still on, too (save up to $4 per doujinshi you get)
  • For our first massive update of Japanese indies products, we've got a huge ton of stuff for you. First, from Moodyz, we've got a positively dynamite VHS (DVD region 2 also available) starring four lovely ladies -- Bunko Kanazawa, Aika Miura, Manami Suzuki and Junko Asamiya, with 200 minutes of superior hardcore action
  • From the excellent AV studio Wanz Factory, we have stock of many DVD region 2 titles (VHS are also available), including their How to Perfect series (Kanabun, Yuuna Akimoto, Maria Yumeno), Be Covered Shameful Lady (Sayaka Ijiri), AV Special Training (Yuuna Akimoto), Happy Date (the lovely Lum Nagase), and Leg Fetish World (Fuuka Sakurai as a sexy and leggy OL)
  • Also from Wanz Factory, the first erotic video performed and directed by Aika Miura (very nice!), a totally new production of course
  • The very eccentric and zany indies maker Aroma, who publishes only on VHS as a matter of company policy, has three very interesting titles: Ticklish Boxing Woman, Dick Girl (girls with strap-on dildos who pretend they're men), and Hard Nipples Collection (for men fascinated by what nipples look like as they get hard)
  • One of the best-selling Kanabun DVDs of all tie is Go go! Kanabun Land, extra-cool for J-List customers as it's subtitled in English -- it's been re-released at a lower price so you can enjoy this great title!
  • Just because we're carrying non-SOD indies titles now, doesn't mean SOD's going to go down without a fight -- see Anal Torture (a 2-in-1) and a dynamite new Do Lesbian! release (both are region-free DVD)
  • More than a year ago, J-List carried some Japanese "loose socks" (the baggy socks that look so cool on Japanese high school girls). They didn't turn out to be very good, so we stopped carrying them. Now we're happy to announce that we've got two different sizes of truly deluxe and authentic Japanse loose socks (80 cm and 120 cm lengths), just for you!
  • We've had some excellent last-minute additions to the calendar pages, including high-quality desktop calendars for Ryoko Hirosue and Norika Fujiwara, as well as a Morning Musume CD-ROM calendar for Windows -- and of course, we've lowered prices on another huge group of calendars to get the rest of our stock out (we've still got over 75 calendars though)
  • For fans of Kodansha's bilingual comics series, which gives you authentic Japanese manga with both English and Japanese, right on the page, we present the fantastic Tale of Genji English-translated manga for you, from Kodansha
  • New and restocked "cute" items at J-List include fresh stock of Picky's Bear cute Japanese bento boxes, more Hello Kitty color printed lunch bags, Hello Kitty small containers (you can put everything from mayonnaise to contact lenses in there), and more
  • For fans of our popular and well-stocked Japanese snacks page, we've got fresh stock of both Blue and Black Toppo (a crunchy pretzel stick filled with chocolate or almond, very tasty), as well as fresh stock of the long-selling Sake Candy and Strawberry Milk Candy
  • For those studying Japanese, or for fans of Japanese stationary with funny English on it, enjoy the new Japanese notebooks, Japanese study cards, and Japanese traditional report paper (genko-yoshi)
  • Like our patented Japanese headbands? We've got fresh stock of our most popular headband ever, "Watashi wa H" (I'm a pervert), as well as the old stand-by, "Certain Victory"
  • Finally, from a category I've loved ever since I was a child, we've now got some extra cool new soft vinyl toys of Godzilla, King Ghidora, Gamera and Godzilla (the "meltdown" version that's very cool).

In our ongoing efforts to improve your shopping experience at J-List, we've added a new feature to our system: an automated mail that we'll send to you when your order ships from Japan. This will let you know when you order is safely on its way to you. If you're ordering products from Japan via EMS, this system will automatically let you the EMS number so you can track your package online. Thanks for all the feedback on the J-List site and how it can be improved (and please keep it coming).

Monday, December 10, 2001

Greetings from J-List December 10, 2001

Hello again from Japan, where the opposite of "red" is "white."

Christmas is approaching fast, and Japan is getting ready for the holiday in traditional Japanese style. Christmas is a nice, warm time in Japan, but to be honest, foreigners living here get frustrated with how superficial everything can seem. It's a time of plastic battery-operated Santas that are made in Japan, and of Christmas parties, and foreigners living in Japan are apt to be asked to don "Santa wear" (a Santa Claus suit) and play Santa for Japanese kids -- I've done this a half-dozen times at least. Christmas is never an easy time to be away from home, and gaijin living in Japan are apt to be extra sensitive and homesick around this time of the year.

Much more important to the Japanese than Christmas is New Year's Day, which is a quiet, solemn event for most Japanese -- first of all, you clean your house from top to bottom, so you can start the new year off right, and replace the toothbrushes with new ones. You decorate your house with kadomatsu (decorations made of bamboo and pine, which we happen to have for sale on the J-List site today by happy chance). At night on December 31st, you put your legs in the kotatsu and watch Kohaku ("Red-White"), a 3 hour TV special featuring everyone who's anyone in the Japanese music world, and eat toshi-koshi soba ("cross into the near year" noodles), which are supposed to make you live a long time. In the U.S., Christmas is a solemn event, and New Year's Eve is time for loud parties, but in Japan, that's reversed. I imagine that Japanese living in the U.S. are extra lonely around the new year because the customs are so different.

The J-List site was down for a couple of hours on Sunday, for upgrades to the server. Sorry if you were affected by the problem. Things seem to be running smoothly on the server now. Meanwhile, on the mail sever front, several customers did get multiple copies of our December 6 mailing. We're working on the problem now and hope this mail doesn't reach anyone multiple times.

Our efforts to get our stock of calendars down continue, and we've lowered prices yet again, to almost ridiculous levels. Also, because it's hard to choose a calendar with a small scan from a thumbnail, we've opened all the calendars and taken pictures of some of the pages inside, so you can see more clearly how beautiful the pictures inside are. We've still got over 100 anime, JPOP, swimsuit idol, race queen and nude Japanese calendars. In addition to the reduced prices, get free tubes if you buy 2 or more.

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

  • First, we have some excellent new adult magazines in for you, including the new Beppin School, a very special issue (and one which we're probably going to run out of quite soon)
  • People told us they loved our $5 and $6 magazine sale, so we've posted another dozen or so nice backissues of popular adult magazines like Bejean and beppin School and Video Boy to magazine page 3 -- it's you last chance to get some of these issues, which are out of print permanently
  • We have new photobooks for you, including both nude and sexy swimsuit model photobooks
  • We've got some nice leg fetish items in stock, including the very nice Mini Suka Deluxe April 2001 issue, great for fans of Japanese "low angle" erotic photography
  • For manga lovers, we've got more manga for you, including several new volumes posted, as well as fresh stock of some very popular past issues, including some popular "dick girl" themed manga that many customers enjoy
  • Our doujinshi sale is proving very popular with customers. You can save $1, $2, $3 or $4 per doujinshi if you buy 2, 3, 4 or 5 or more doujinshi at a time. We've even added some great new books (very limited stock, I'm afraid) to help you pick
  • For DVD fans, we've got a huge volley of new offerings, starting off with a great Zamen (sperm fetish) collection DVD and a "best selection" of jukujo (older models, aged 25-34)
  • For loves of lesbian themes, enjoy SOD's latest Deep Kiss offering, Deep Kiss vol. 13, featuring 130 minutes of incredibly intense female kissing, followed by Les Animal, a very erotic indies offering from DMN
  • If you love cute-as-a-button Japanese girls, we suggest you check out Ai Kuraki's Let's Do Sex in Club, loaded with dynamite sexual imagery
  • Finally, for region 2 capable customers, Kurumi Morishita stars in a new kind of production by SOD, a "sell cinema" (similar to V cinema) in which Kurumi and her female staff run a traditional Japanese in "zenra" style (all nude)
  • J-List makes available a wide range of adult and non-adult magazines which you can get sent to you each month, automatically, while they're still in newsstands here. Newly added to our revolving subscription page for adults is Monthly Mujin Comic, a fantastic 550+ page hentai manga you can get each month
  • For anime fans, especially those who dearly love the cute female anime characters, we offer a monthly subscription to Otomex, the "new style heroine magazine," which covers anime and game girl characters, especially the pretty ones
  • Christmas is almost here, but more important than Christmas is New Years' Day (Oshogatsu), and we've decided to carry a large selection of very nice New Years' decorations for those who want to decorate their home or car in Japanse style. We've also got some good luck charms for traffic safety -- see these on the "Traditional wacky things" page
  • Winter is approaching fast, and in Japan, the cold "kara-kaze" winds are really chilling everything. To combat the cold, we're carrying the very popular Japanese hand-warmers we had last year. Just pop open one of the packets and it will become warm in a few minutes, and the heat lasts for up to 18 hours (really, it does!)
  • On our "cute things" page, we've got fork and knife sets for Ojamajo Doremi and Masked Rider Agido, and some cool chopsticks for fans of the silly Japanese character Bad Badtz-Maru
  • For anime card collectors, be sure to check out the Inuyasha card game, featuring beautiful printing and laminating
  • We have some wacky new signs, including a deluxe Japanese signplate that says "please take your shoes off here"
  • We've got fresh stock of the delicious Tsubu Tsubu Pocky strawberry flavor, with real bits of fresh strawberries in them
  • For fans of our Japanese chewing gum, we've got a new flavor, Lotte Strawberry Gum, as well as fresh stock of Japanese Ume (plum), La France (pear) gum and Black Black (spicy caffeine gum)
  • Finally, look for a wacky heart-shaped ice cube tray, some Japanese oil paper to clean the oil from your face (with real flakes of gold inside), more wacky Japanese ear cleaners with light, and more!

By the way, remember that J-List has a price-matching policy. If you see the same item we sell at another site (as long as they're based in Japan, as we are), we'll meet or beat any price of theirs. When requesting a price match, please us the comments field of our order form, and provide the URL -- thanks!