Friday, February 22, 2002

Greetings from J-List February 22, 2002

Hello again from your own little window to Japan!

A very big change is coming for my family: my son is starting Elementary School, and that means that many things will be changing. Japanese compulsory education (Elementary and Junuir High School) is standardized on a national level, through the mighty Ministry of Education, and from the upper reaches of Hokkaido down to balmy Okinawa, Japanese schools are designed to one thing: output standardized, happy Japanese kids that can get along and be happy in Japanese society. To that end, the various elements of schools and learning, from textbooks to desks to what teachers do and how they do it, are made uniform throughout the country. My son must do exactly what everyone else does, starting with walking 1.2 kilometers (about 3/4 of a mile) to the school every morning, wearing an official school-approved school backpack called a "landoseru" (which comes from the German word Raenzel), writing with approved pencils and notebooks, wearing a school-approved bright yellow hat, and so on. It's not just my son who will need to conform to a whole new world of changes, though. My poor wife now has to interact with a whole new group of people, from teachers to other parents, and do everything expected of her as a mother in Japan. She will constantly be worrying (perhaps unnecessarily, but who can say?) about our appearance in the eyes of others, which is known as "hito no me" (hee-toh no meh) in Japanese. Among other things, she has to get up extra early and be a crosswalk guard, waving a yellow flag to alert cars that young children are walking along the road.

Recently we've been on a big hot springs kick, and every Sunday for the past few weeks we've gotten into our Mazda Bongo Friendee (similar to an MPV, but taller, and the roof opens to give you another compartment) and going to various onsen towns around us. Japan's various traditions of bathing are quite famous all over the world, and rightly so. Most Japanese take baths in the evening, although younger people replace this tradition with a shower in the morning. In Japanese homes, the actual bath-room is a bath and a separate tiled area outside the bath, with a drain for water to escape (Japanese are amazed that we refer to the toilet as "bathroom" since it's totally different). You always wash your body thoroughly before getting into the bath, and never use soap or shampoo inside the bath itself, as the water will be reused by other family members, and saved for several days. All baths here have heaters to allow you to re-heat the old water, and ours has a one-touch computer that will fill the bath to the pre-set temperature and level for you. If you're a parent living in Japan, you always take your kids in the bath with you and wash them. This warm concept of mother or father taking a bath with their children is called "skinship" by the Japanese, a Japanese term that serves its purpose well. Japanese are great fans of public baths (sento) and hot springs (onsen), too. Since the water is "everyone's water," everyone must wash thoroughly before getting into the baths, although I've seen quite a few old men who skipped this step. As a foreigner living in Japan, I consider myself an "ambassador of goodwill" and what not, so I make sure I follow the rules even if not everyone else does. The Japanese are famous for bathing with men and women together (kon'yoku), but this is actually very rare, and I've only encountered a combined bath once in all my years in Japan. If you are interested in learning more about Japan's hot springs culture, I recommend Peach Princess's excellent game Tokimeki Check-in!, which accurately captures the spirit of a traditional Japanese hot springs inn, from yukata to the ping-pong tables that seem to be required at all Japanese onsen hotels.

Unfortunately we continue to get a small per cent of customers with ordering problems. It seems that some users using the normal checkout (not the express checkout) make orders and receive the automated "thank you" email from the J-List database. Unfortunately, the orders never reach us on our end, and are thus never processed. If you have made an order through the J-List website in the past couple of weeks and never received updates about its status from us, please email us and we'll figure it out for you. Thanks!

For the new update today, we've got a very nice selection of new items for you, including:
o The excellent new issue of Gokuh, which is heavily laden with lovely photographs of the top AV idols in Japan today, Manatsu Hirose to Anna Ohura to Kurumi Morishita and beyond
  • For fans of models and idols popular in the early 1990's, some premium copies of Nowon, the "special photographic magazine"
  • We have fresh stock of some nice photobooks for you, including new hardcover nude and sexy photobooks
  • For fans of various fetish themes, see the newly posted "gouka bon" (high-end Japanese bondage and fetish photobooks)
  • For fans of erotic hentai manga, a special treat: we now stock the excellent adult comics of White Lightning Productions, including the English translations of the Blue Eyes manga series, as well as other titles. For ease in ordering, all titles will be stocked in San Diego
  • We have some excellent new erotic hentai manga for you, with not only new volumes but fresh stock of many very nice books
  • Also: for fans of yaoi comics (homosexual male/male comics that are drawn with incredibly skill) check out our new postings
  • For DVD collectors, we've got some nice items for you, start with a super item, Kyoka Usami Best Selection, featuring the best AV erotica from the lovely Indies AV (one of my favorites) (region free)
  • For fans of lesbian love and sex, the very deep and erotic Futari ~ Two, a new all-female production from SOD (region free)
  • We've got a great item from Big Morkal, featuring *4 hours* or incredibly hardcore sex with 19 different models (region free)
  • For Indies DVD lovers, see the very nice all-new production from Sally Yoshino (region 2)
  • From Attacker's Idea Pocket label, a great 2-in-1 Angel DVD featuring the famous Shiho Fujiwara, who is active in the U.S. under the name Sakura Sena -- we love her "body conscious cat girl" cosplay sex the best
  • We've got a dynamite new remake of "Dream Shower" for Waap by master adult video director Kazuhiko Matsumoto, of M's Video Group
  • Finally, Tomo has received a huge order of adult DVD titles from our distributors (as in, four huge boxes worth), so you can order these titles right away, without waiting
  • For fans of our very nice anime statues, see the newly posted cold cast recreation of Ai Amano from the popular manga and anime Video Girl Ai (one of Peter's all-time favorite manga series), a beautiful 1/6 scale cold cast figure
  • We have additional stock of the positively beautiful cold cast statue of Urd, from the Ah My Goddess universe, along with new photographs so you can see how beautiful and detailed this dynamite 20 inch high statue is
  • For AMG fans, we've got another treat: the new volumes of the Kodansha Bilingual Comics for you
  • We have fresh stock of several of our popular collectible card items, including Morning Musume, and the authentic Japan Sumo Wrestling collectible cards
  • We've seen a huge rise in Hello Kitty popularity over the past week, and have restocked many categories of Kitty-chan items, including Hello Kitty mayonnaise cups, Kitty straws, toilet paper, chopsticks, hotcake mix, and many more items
  • Yasu has been working hard to get more anime & toy items for J-List, and we've restocked many items, including the Hot Wheels that are only available in Japan, the cool Ichiro little baseball player figures, and the very popular My Neighbor Totoro tin toys, including the deluxe tin bus stop!
  • Also: fresh stock of one of our favorite Hello Kitty items, the culturally significant Hello Kitty Daruma and Kokeshi dolls, little Kitty-chan creations based on beautiful traditional wooden dolls from Japan
  • We've restocked our selection of authentic Japanese loose socks, those fun, baggy socks that high schools wear
  • For fans of Japanese food and snack items, look for a general restock of items there, with fresh stock of Sakura Drops hard candies, miso soup, dried salmon for making delicious onigiri (rice balls), and more
  • Finally, see cool ice cube trays that make wacky ice cubes, new elegant chopsticks from japan, Japanese socks for girls with smaller feet, fresh stock of our Japanese notebooks that have funny English written on them, and more!

    J-List sells many nice bishoujo games from English, which have been licensed from the original Japanese companies, uncensored, and translated into English. Two of my favorites are Legend of Fairies and Fairy Nights, two "novel type" games for Windows or Macintosh (all versions of both) in which you work your way through an interesting tale of sexy fairies and "battle mahjong." These great story-based games are part 1 and 2 in a series.

    The J-Mate site has been updated yet again, with new reviews of items you can get at J-List. We've got reviews of the very nice new Kyoka Usumi best selection DVD, as well as a nice review of the very interesting Black Bukkake DVD. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2002

    Greetings from J-List February 20, 2002

    Hello again from your friends in Japan!

    Japanese is a linguistically impoverished language -- there are only 5 vowels, all paired into syllables with consonants (ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, etc.). This is where the thick accent Japanese speakers of English sometimes have comes from. One of the vowel lines -- the "ta" line -- is missing a useful syllables, the sound "ti" (sounding like "tea") as well as the linguistically related "di" sound (sounding like "dee"). Without a way to express these sounds in Japanese, foreign words like "Disneyland" and "party" could not be correctly represented, and subsequently entered the Japanese language as "Desneyland" and "parteh," which sound strange to the English ear. A "patch" was introduced at some time in the last few decades, a way to write "ti" and "di" in katakana, but unfortunately for a generation of older Japanese, they learned a slew of foreign loan words with odd pronunciations. Now, pronouncing words like "panty" as "panteh" or the letter T as "teh" (rhyming with "way") instead of how they sound in English is the mark of an old fogey here (although, as a foreigner, it's kind of fun to do it on purpose sometimes).

    Japan can seem a very digital place, full of little gadgets that make like easier (or sometimes more complicated). It can be a very analog place, too, though. While we work at J-List, with all our Macs in our own little corner of the ultra-democratic online republic that is the Internet, we often hear the local yaki-imo man driving around with his truck of hot, baked imo (sweet potatoes). Selling baked sweet potatoes is an old profession, going back to the Meiji Era, and the song they sing (or play through speakers, in this modern era) is a classic part of the background of living in Japan. We found a site that has a recording of the song here, if you want to hear it for yourself: http://www.kyoto-su.ac.jp/information/sounds/ishiyakiimo.html

    J-List stocks all the best bishoujo games available in English, since we love these games and want everyone to try them. Often, older games go out of print and are no longer available. If you're interested in Three Sisters' Story or May Club, two very nice games we're running low on, you should pick them up soon, since our current stock could be ending very soon.

    For today's update, we're got an extra-special collection of items for you, including:

    • First, we've got some nice new magazines for you, including the lovely new issue of Aishite Ageru ("I'll love you"), a nice hardcore magazine from Japan
    • For photobook lovers, we've got several very nice new photobooks, including the lovely new photobook from Mai Hagiwara (out of retirement at last), as well as the beautiful hardcover nude photobook of Aoi Toki
    • Also fresh stock of several popular photobook items, including the popular U.S. Playboy's Eye, featuring famous Japanese AV idols who have been honored by being run in Playboy Magazine, as well as fresh stock of the Yinling Joytoy photobook
    • For hentai manga fans, we've got yet another volley of titles for you, by Toen Comics, Shinyusha Comics and other popular manga studios, along with a big restocking of adult manga that had sold out recently (including Blue Shangri-la, get them before they sell out again)
    • For fans of doujin (underground) CG, we've got some very cool doujin-soft CD-ROM titles, although they will go quickly
    • For DVD fans, we've got a huge bunch of new titles for you, starting off with a great new Deep Kiss lesbian DVD from Soft on Demand -- which of the lovely women will be chosen as the Deep Kiss Queen? (region free)
    • From Natural High, a division of Soft on Demand, a great bukkake DVD for you (region free)
    • Emily Yoshikawa is unique because she's the first "Latina" AV idol, being half Japanese and half Dominican Republic. See her great new erotic video with great new sexual performances
    • For fans of extremely unique Japanese indies adult video, enjoy the new Area of Waap, a very cool bukkake performance that's all the more special because it's directed by Kazuhiko Matsumoto of M'z Video Group (region 2)
    • For fans of the high-quality hentai anime series by G-Taste creator Hiroki Yagami, we've got a great new one, featuring anime lesbian play and more (region 2)
    • Finally, we've got a big restock of adult DVD titles for you, including Mai Hagiwara DVDs, Aika Love You, the long-running Go Go Kanabun (subtitled in English!) and more
    • One of the fastest-selling products in the history of J-List has been the Hello Kitty vibrators, which have struck a cord with J-List customers as a cool icon of Japanese pop culture. We were in danger of selling out of our stock in just a few days, but we fortunately got more units in. If you want one of these cool items, get them before our distributors run out of stock
    • Also, a cool follow-up to the Kitty-chan vibrating shoulder massages, a super new Doraemon Vibrator!
    • Another spiffy item, we've got stock of the very cute Soot Sprites (aka Dust Bunnies) keychains from Hayao Miyazaki's anime masterpiece, My Neighbor Totoro
    • For fans of our "cold cast" anime statues from Japan, we've got two new items for you, Mitsune Kanno and Shinobu Maehara, rendered in beautiful 1/6 scale resin "completed figures" for you
    • If you love the Ah My Goddess bilingual manga, which let you read the series in English and Japanese, well, we've got a big restock of these books for you
    • For fans of things for your kitchen, we've got new bento boxes and bento food shapes, fresh stock of the ever-popular sushi mold for making perfect nigiri-zushi, more of the popular Puchi Onigiri race ball maker, and more
    • We've restocked the very nice hiragana practice notebooks, that help you teach yourself to write in Japanese
    • We have some other cute items from Japan, including Hello Kitty cups, colored glue sticks, and a rare Hello Kitty reusable container filled with gum
    • Finally, find cool Japanese "onsen" powder that turns your bath into a real Japanese hot springs, new wacky signs in Japanese, restock of delicious Japanese gum, and more!

    The "About J-List" page has been updated with the image of Mayumi, the newest face around here at J-List. You can see her picture, as well as see pictures of all the J-List staff, as well as maps of where we live in Japan and other information. The link is at the top left of the J-List product pages.

    Monday, February 18, 2002

    Greetings from J-List February 18, 2002

    Greetings from Japan. I am especially refreshed today, as I took the family on a trip to the town of Kusatsu on Sunday, one of the most famous areas in Japan for hot springs. It took so long to get there, we decided to find nice hotel and treat ourselves to some extra-long Japanese-style bathing, and come back in the morning. We feel great now.

    One of the more interesting parts of learning Japanese are the many varieties of descriptive sound words, similar to onomatopoeia in English. There are two groups of these words, giseigo (literally "mimic-voice words") and gitaigo ("mimic-situation words"). Giseigo are words that mimic the sounds of animals -- the sound a small dog makes sounds like "kyan kyan" but a larger dog sounds like "wan wan." A cat says "nya nya" and a rooster "kokekokko." Pigs say "buu buu," and in the anime show Chibi Maruko-chan, there's a boy in Maruko's class who looks like a pig, and every thing he says ends with "buu." Just as foreigners like to learn the sounds that animals make in Japanese, Japanese think it's fun to study animal sounds in English, too.

    Similar to giseigo are gitaigo, words that describe a situation, often with surprising clarity. For example, in English we have the words cry and sob which differ slightly in the meaning they carry. In Japanese, the latter is expressed as "shiku shiku naku" (with "shiku shiku" acting as a verbal representation of the hitching sound made while sobbing). Some other examples include "zaa zaa" (the sound of rain falling loudly, to denote the concept of "pouring with rain"), paku paku (the sound of someone eating quickly -- this is where "Pac Man" got his name from), and "shiiin" (the sound of no sound -- i.e., of perfect silence). Some others: peko peko (being so hungry you're going to faint), gasa gasa (having rough skin), tsuru tsuru (any smooth surface, or having smooth skin), bishi bishi (doing things quickly and efficiently, without delay), dara dara (doing things slowly, being lazy), pika pika (being sparking brand-new), boro boro (being old and dilapidated), and so on. There is an endless supply of these highly descriptive words, and they're quite fun to use.

    President Bush is in Japan now, fulfilling a promise to visit the country that was interrupted by the World Trade Center attacks. He's talking with Prime Minister Koizumi about various ways in which Japan and the U.S. can cooperate on the economy, terrorism and some other issues. Happily, Mr. Koizumi is fluent in English and is able to talk directly to Bush on various issues, which I think is great. I think it does the Japanese people a lot of good to see their leader speaking English comfortably, and Japanese needs more role models like Mr. Koizumi for Japanese students learning English.

    For today's new update, we've got a bunch of very nice items for you. For our adult customers, check out new magazines (the new issue of Bejean is especially nice), new hardcover photobooks, a very special bondage item for S&M photography lovers, excellent new hentai manga posted, and several superb new DVDs, including a new Holed Panty release from Soft on Demand that shows you more than you ever thought possible! We've also got cute new anime toy items, including a fluffy new Totoro from Sun Arrow, new Japan-only Matchbox toys, a cute item for Licca-chan fans, unique "sweet bean and green tea" flavored candies, strawberry milk mix enjoyed by Japanese elementary school kids, a major restocking of gum, Pocky and other snack products, many new wacky things from Japan, and much more!

    Remember that J-List carries many items from Japan, which we group together as "wacky things from Japan." These range from unique Hello Kitty items to things you can use to help learn Japanese to other items that, while they might not be necessities, are just plain cool (Hello Kitty toilet paper comes to mind). A lot of the items we sell are perfect for gifts, and Mayumi works very hard to keep the Wacky Things categories well stocked. We love selling these fun items, since it gives us a chance to actually bring you something cool that you can buy and touch and use, rather than just telling you about the neat things they have in Japan. Check out our excellent and wacky things from Japan, today!

    The J-Mate homepage (http://www.jmate.com) has been updated again, with a new interview with the lovely Airi Kago, as well as a super review of Hobibox's very nice Love Love Show, the first erotic puzzle-based bishoujo game in which you must solve puzzles to overcome your female opponents. Check out the great J-Mate site today!