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!