My wife and daughter are in San Diego now, taking a little mini-vacation before we get busier in the summer. Anyone who's married probably knows how much fun it can be to have the whole house to yourself to rattle around in, and I'll be doing some fun things with my son while my wife and daughter are in the U.S., including some serious onsen (hot springs) trips.
There's no doubt about it -- the Japanese really love their tea. While in a 7-11 the other day, I counted no less than a dozen brands of bottled or canned tea for sale, mostly variations on Japanese green tea and Chinese oolong tea. In addition to the normal Western canned tea like Kirin's Afternoon Tea, which are the only teas with sugar added, many brands competed for shelf space, including Kirin's new Nama-cha, Sapporo's Kyo-ryoku-cha, Asahi's Marocha, the popular Soukenbi-cha by Coca-cola, various blends of jasmine tea, and my own personal favorite, Asahi's "Chugoku no Ryokucha". As the market for bottled tea products heats up, manufacturers come up with ways to get you to buy their products, offering larger or smaller packages, keychains that you get free with the bottle of tea, and so on. Unlike the U.S., where adding sweetener to products is an unfortunate requirement in most cases (bottled green and oolong tea we've bought in the U.S. even contained honey to sweeten it), all Asian teas are completely unsweetened, and the unaltered, slightly bitter taste is really delicious. Sapporo tried to bring its unsweetened oolong tea to market in California some years ago, but their efforts weren't successful.
In case you wondered why beer companies like Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo are so busy making bottled tea products, the short answer is that Japanese companies pretty much do everything, rather than focusing on one category of products or services, as U.S. companies often to. All beer makers also have beverage bottling businesses, to better compete in all markets -- JT, aka Japan Tobacco, also sells beverages, although drinking a refreshing drink that was bottled by a tobacco company can give one pause. Do you want to reform your home? Panahome, the construction company operated by Panasonic/National, will be happy to help you. Panasonic bicycles are also very well-known in the marketplace. Hitachi is famous for consumer products, but they also make Japan's speedy bullet trains. Sony has a popular line of high-end make-up products, and a life insurance business, too. When we built the J-List office, one of the companies we considered was Toyota Home, a division of Toyota that will build you a home in chunks in their factory, and truck it out to your land for later assembly. Whereas American companies like Apple or Compaq pretty much stick to one main business, it's quite common for Japanese companies to branch out into many areas.
As part of our ongoing quest to bring you just about every form of fun Japanese pop culture possible, J-List offers a unique service, a selection of anime, yaoi and other manga, JPOP, fashion, swimsuit idol, hobby and adult magazines by "reserve subscription." This basically means that we'll send you the newest issue of the magazines you want each month, automatically, until you ask us to stop. Since J-List gets these magazines in at the same time as the Japanese newsstands and sends them to you automatically, you can always be assured of having the latest issues. We've frankly got an incredible lineup of magazines, which Tomo works very hard to maintain, and to help you figure out which excellent Japanese magazines you'd like to get each month, we've updated all our scans with fresh ones so you can see how good the items are.
For the pre-weekend update, we've got an extra special volley of new items for you, including:
- First, we've got new magazines for you, including the new Bejean (a very nice issue this month!), as well as new kogal and amateur hardcore magazines for your enjoyment
- If you like our photobooks, we've got some nice new hard- and softcover books for you, including a very nice "on the set collection of shots of Japan's top AV idols, from Audaz
- One of more most popular categories are our leg, stocking and mini-skirt fetish photobooks, and we've got the new Mini-Suka Deluxe in for you, although stock is limited this time around, so get it fast if you want it
- If you like hentai manga, you've come to the right place -- we've got an extra nice selections of a half-dozen all-new works for you, including the very cool "Leave it to the Bunny Maids"
- For DVD fans, we've got some nice items, starting with the Private Onanie (which comes from the word onanism, and means masturbation) of ten girls aged 19-23, from Deep's (region free)
- The lovely Sakura Kawai dresses up in a variety of sexy anime costumes and performs for your pleasure, in a new DVD from Big Morkal (region free)
- In a DVD market where more and more lesbian sex is done with "penis band" (strap on dildos) and the like, Moodyz director Kei Morikawa has filmed the "real lesbian" with soft, gentle lovemaking and more (region 2)
- Finally, the long-awaited and very-often-requested Milky Cat bukkake videos are finally available through J-List -- we've got the first titles, The Gansha series, posted now (VHS only)
- For fans of the Leiji Matsumoto masterpiece Space Cruiser Yamato, e.g. Star Blazers, we've refreshed our stock of the very nice Yamato trading cards from Cardass
- Our only-available-in-Japan Hot Wheels are proving to be more and more popular, so much so that we sold out of all the ones we've posted. We now post more stock of the Thunderbird and Back to the Future cars, as well as a rare collector's edition of the Mach 5 from Speed Racer (oh, this is so cool)
- The Dog, the series of ultra-cute plush little dogs from Japan, has sold beyond our wildest expectations, and to say thanks, we've gotten another major restock of these cute little guys for you
- A classic item, the PVC figure of Asuka Hoshino from Sentimental Graffiti, is in stock, and it's very lovely indeed
- For Licca-chan fans, we've got a little figure that's a recreation of the Licca doll issued in 1967, a really cool classic item
- If you'd like to follow the adventures of Anpan Man (that is, Bean Paste Man), and his two friends, White Bread Man and Curry Bread Man, check out the little plush toys we've posted to the stuffed animals page
- For lovers of traditional wacky stuff from Japan, we've posted a nifty new sake bottle with cups (great for drinking hot sake), as well as a traditional bamboo sign for your bath
- If you dig Japanese gum, we've got a tasty item for you, Lotte's "Fruit of the Bubble" gum that features little blueberry gum with larger pieces of yogurt flavored gum, all in a great container
- For fans of our Japanese food and snack items, check out Lion Ramune candy, super butter-and-soy-sauce flavored Popcorn that is one of our favorites here, and a delicious treat, "Chii-kama" (that is, cheese and kamaboko), a delicious snack that goes well with beer
- Finally, look for Hello Kitty tissue and toilet paper, fresh stock of wacky signs from Japan (like "please remove your shoes"), more handy chopsticks and bento related items, and more!
One of my own favorite hentai/bishoujo games, which I still find myself playing late at night despite my own busy schedule, is Hentai Anime Poker. Featuring five different games of strip poker, including Texas Hold 'Em, the game allows you to "plug in" other anime opponents, so you can play for hours. It comes with full instructions too, in case you're not up on all the rules of Poker, and it's a great way to practice against some challenge players who are also cute anime girls. As a special thanks to our bishoujo game customers, we're offering our "POKERPACK" (the Hentai Anime Poker CD-ROM with all four downloadable packs of opponents) for an even better price, just $24.95, $10 off the normal price and half the price of buying the game with the download packs separately. The offer ends this month.
Finally, the "top 5" (which is really a top 10) has been updated for the past week, so you can see with one click what items have been selling the most.