Friday, April 12, 2002

Greetings from J-List April 12, 2002

Hello and TGIF from Japan!

I often look back on my years of teaching English as a Second Language to Japanese students with fondness. Besides being a good way to interact with a lot of interesting Japanese people (including gorgeous girls), teaching ESL allowed me to learn my own language in ways I'd never expected. They say that the way to learn something is to teach it, and I agree completely. You never think about the structure of two-part verbs in English -- words like turn on, turn off, turn up, work out, take in, speak out, -- until suddenly you need to explain it to ESL students. As a native speaker, I know when something is right or wrong just by hearing it, but as a teacher, it's important to be able to present the rules of English to your students in a clear manner. I remember trying to explain the nuance between the words "another" and "other" (as in, "another book" vs. "the other book") and being stumped for weeks trying to explain it to them so that they could understand.

As Japan's economic troubles continue, I've started to realize that the real problem Japan is up against is one of leadership, and lack of it. Despite the high expectations of Prime Minister Koizumi (Japan's first "cool" leader, who listens to rock bands like X-Japan), the consensus is that none of the painful reforms Japan needs to take are happening. Yet there is one man who is kicking ass and taking names: Shintaro Ishihara, the mayor of Tokyo and author of the book "Japan that can say No." When he took office four years ago, the Tokyo Municipality was bleeding red ink everywhere, but he turned things around with many reforms, including cutting the salaries of high level city officials (including his own salary), renting out his office in Tokyo's massive city office, and passed special taxes on hotels and trucks that pollute as a way of generating income for the city. Although he's a little right leaning politically (he angered the foreign population of Japan by warning that, in a disaster such as an Earthquake, foreigners living in Japan would riot and commit crimes), you can't argue with results. His son has used his father's popularity to his advantage, and has become quite a popular actor in TV commercials and in dramas.

Have you been having mail problems? Our server has been really taxed lately, and our ISP warned us that mail might be lost as a result. If you've sent mail to us and haven't gotten a reply, please resend it and we'll reply right away.

For the pre-weekend update today, we've got a very nice selection of items for you, including:

  • First, we've got some nice magazines for you, including new amateur and kogal magazines, as well as reduced prices on many of our in stock items
  • We have two fabulous hardcover photobooks for fans of Russian nude idol Yulia Nova, the only woman who looks like the girls in Blue Eyes
  • Also, for fans of lovely Race Queens, we've got a killer "first and last" photobook featuring Yinling, Miho Yoshioka and Ran Enoki
  • The Yellows series by photographer Akira Gomi captures the grace and beauty of nude women from Japan, China and America -- we've restocked all of these books now
  • If you are a collector of hentai manga, we've got some excellent volumes in stock for you, including works by AV Comics, Megastore and more
  • Also, fresh stock of many great items, including Yui Shop 1, G-Taste, and great manga by the famous Chattaro
  • Also for hentai manga art lovers, a beautiful erotic illustration book featuring the best hentai artwork of the Tsukasa Manga Studio
  • We've added to our popular new Adult Toys page, with an interesting "side swinging" Japanese vibrator and new variations on the classic "pink rotor" -- great for those who like that they see in Japan's erotic videos
  • For DVD fans, we've got some nice items for you, starting with a super 4-in-1 Zenra (all nude sports) DVD, with 230 minutes of start naked Japanese girls for you to watch (region free)
  • For fans of anal sex, see some interesting "torture play" with the lovely pro AV idol Karen (region free)
  • We have another great Milky Cat erotic bukkake video for fans of this rare high-end fetish studio (VHS)
  • Also for bukkake lovers, another excellent M's Video Group offering directed by Kazuhiko Matsumoto
  • For fans of bold indies adult video, we've got a slick DVD featuring the sex of Ruri Ikenouchi, shot almost entirely from erotic angels between her legs (region 2)
  • Also very erotic, Miss Semen Mania, a bukkake fetish DVD featuring three gorgeous AV idols (including my own fave Mirai Hoshizaki) (region 2)
  • Finally, we've got a really cool psycho-erotic soft porn image video, which features the lovely Mai Gotoh stripping and posing erotically with a black man (region 2)
  • There are cool items from Japan, and then there are really cool items. We've got stock of the popular Sushi Light series of rubber sushi which light up when you squeeze them -- so convenient!
  • For our anime and toy fans, we've got some cool new items, including a drop-dead awesome die-cast recreation of the Yamato from Yamato/Star Blazers, cool Laputa figures, and more
  • Also: a much requested item, the very popular DigiQ miniature remote controlled cars, which are just 5 cm long but are highly advanced R/C cars -- see our newly created Car Related Toys page for more information on this great item
  • Also posted on the Car Toys page, fresh stock of some of the most popular Japan-only Hot Wheels toys (including the Delorean and the very cool Thunderbird Hot Wheels)
  • If you are a fan of Japan's lovely swimsuit and Race Queen idols, check out the newly posted items (including some nice DVDs)
  • We've done a great update to our snacks page, with Snoopy, mango flavored Pocky, new Japanese animal crackers, super-strong caffeine candy, and Meiji Banana Chocolate (candy bananas with chocolate inside, they're great), as well as fresh stock of other items
  • Also: fresh stock of one of the most popular food items in J-List history, Sushi Gummi!
  • We've added a huge amount of stock of some popular Hello Kitty items, including the legendary Hello Kitty Vibrator (which is of course a shoulder massage), and the makes-a-great-gift-for-someone, Hello Kitty toilet paper
  • Finally, find cool ways to help you study Japanese, new bento and chopstick items, Socks Glue for Japanese loose socks, fresh stock of the very cool Ultraman rubber mask, excellent Zippo-style lighters with beautiful Japanese images on them, and more!

We've updated the "Top 5" links today, and added two new categories, so you can easily see what the most popular magazine, manga, snack, DVD, and bishoujo CD-ROM items were for the past week.
Remember that J-List carries some fun items to help you learn Japanese, if you're so inclined. For learning hiragana and katakana, the two syllable based writing systems used in Japan, we suggest the practice notebooks we carry. We've also got Japanese vocabulary cards for practicing vocabulary, and even fun Japanese notebooks with silly English on them. Much of these products we carry because I remember what it was like to try to learn Japanese back in the 80's without any of these cool products available to me. If you are interested in learning Japanese and want to get a head start, I've got a general article on the language posted at my personal homepage (http://www.peterpayne.net).

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Greetings from J-List April 10, 2002

Hello again from your friendly neighborhood gaijin!

When you live in Japan, you get used going without some things that they just plain don't have in Japan. First of all, there are no school buses. It's part of the "school experience" for children to walk to school no matter how far it is, or in extreme situations, to take public transportation. For all the varieties of alcohol that are consumed in Japan, no one ever decided to bring American-style wine coolers here. When you go to a restaurant and can't finish your meal, you don't ask for a "doggie bag" -- you just leave, and they throw your food away. It's far too embarrassing to bring your food home with you, and as a result, the Japanese have the highest percentage of food waste in the world. And amazingly (from my own perspective as an American), there are no fire alarms in homes in Japan, and no laws requiring them -- but then, Japan's child safety seat law didn't get passed until 1999, and before that time it was very common to see children standing up, playing, inside moving cars. We have American fire alarms installed in our Japanese home.

A strange aspect of written Japanese is that many Japanese people cannot read their own language. While the vast majority of Japanese can read the 1900+ "joyo kanji" (the standard characters all Japanese must learn by the time they graduate from high school), there are many very difficult characters that fall outside of the "official" lists, and thus, many people aren't sure how to pronounce them. Family names are notoriously difficult to read, and even my wife's family's last name -- Yanai -- is read as "Yanagi" in almost every other part of Japan besides our city. Place names are also very difficult for Japanese to read, unless they happened to grow up in that area. All the place names in Northern Japan, which was inhabited by the indigenous Ainu people for thousands of years, have odd names can't be written with standard characters -- and as a result, most Japanese often can't read the names.

For the mid-week update, we've got some splendid items for you, including:

  • First, we've got a new category, Unique Adult Toys, where we'll be introducing a variety of interesting adult toys made specifically for the Japanese market, including some of the items seen in Japanese adult videos and DVDs -- check out our new offerings now!
  • For magazine fans, we have the new issues of Penthouse in stock, and they are lovely, filled with dynamite photography of Japanese models by Japanese photographers
  • For the leg or stocking fetishist in you, we've got the dynamite Mini Skirt and Panst Collection vol. 3, featuring some of the most lovely, leggy Japanese AV idols ever
  • For photobook fans, we've got some excellent hardcover photobooks in stock for you, including the dynamite photobook of "hitomi" (you always have to write her name in lower case), Sayaka Morimoto's charming youthful photobook, and the very sexy Sou Takanashi
  • For hentai manga fans, we've got another great update for you, with many excellent new volumes, including the new hentai manga by U-Jin
  • In addition, Yasu has posted fresh stock of a dozen or more volumes that have proved so popular we couldn't keep them in stock, as well as a killer new doujinshi in the Angel Pain series for you
  • Also: for our yaoi customers, a major update including fresh stock of many popular books that had been sold out for a long time
  • For erotic DVD collectors, we've got some great new items for you, starting with a great new No Cut!! DVD featuring 3 hours of AV performances by Tsubomi Kanno (region free)
  • Soft on Demand invites you to meet their new flagship AV idol, the lovely Ruri Anno, who is very bold in her "new face" debut adult DVD (region free)
  • Lovers of lesbian "deep kissing" can enjoy the erotic Chu-Doku DVD offering from Bero Zence (region 2)
  • For fans of the very busty Russian Yulia Nova, whose products are only available in Japan (go figure), we've got her dynamite second video in stock
  • For Japanese idol and Race Queen fans, we've got several nice new items for you, including two great DVDs featuring Yinling and others!
  • For fans of Hayao Miyazaki's movies, we've got fresh stock of the My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Services DVDs (which comes with full English dubbed and subtitled versions)
  • For Leiji Matsumoto fans, we've got fresh stock of the large size die-cast "completed model" of the Andromeda from Yamato/Star Blazers
  • Also: for Totoro lovers, we've restocked the very cool Totoro's Wonder Tin Toys, highly collectible wind-up tin toys
  • In commemoration of the upcoming Star Wars movie, we've restocked our Super Deformed Star Wars toys
  • People liked our cool Cup Noodle coffee cups so much we sold out of them right away -- but we've got more for you in stock now!
  • If you love Japan's bento culture, we've got some nice items for you: large size two-level bento boxes with matching chopsticks that are just great
  • Also for your kitchen, fresh stock of chopsticks, Hamster Club items, onigiri makers and sushi molds, and more
  • For fans of cute things, find Hello Kitty snacks, pasta, toilet paper, and those really cute mayonnaise cups
  • If you are enjoying the English and Japanese bilingual comics being published by Kodansha, we've got the newest issue of Cardcaptor Sakura (vol. 10)
  • Fans of Japanese snacks should sample the ume hard candies, flavored like delicious pickled Japan ume-boshi (tried, tart plums)
  • Finally, one of the most successful products in the history of J-List has been Lotte's Black Black spicy caffeine gum, which uses methyl flavor and spices to keep you awake when you have things to do. Now we've got Xylish Hyper Cool, a sugarless spicy gum that keeps you awake as it improves the health of your teeth. It's great!

At J-List we sell many interesting items from Japan. One of our most rapidly growing areas is our Japanese snacks and gum categories, where we sell anything from Japanese Pocky (the original Japanese chocolate covered pretzel) to our very popular gummi sushi. If you'd like to sample a bunch of delicious treats from Japan, mosey over to our Japanese snacks and food pages and see what we can get for you!

The J-Mate site has been updated again, with reviews (and many screenshots) of new titles by Madoka Ozawa and Maiko Kazano, along with a super interview starring Anna Ohura. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Monday, April 08, 2002

Greetings from J-List April 8, 2002

Greetings from all of us here at J-List!

I've lived in Japan for nearly ten years now, but before I came here I got a lot of enjoyment from Japanese students who came to stay at our house through various homestay programs. Through this great system of sharing cultures, we were able to make friends with many great Japanese young people and teach them about our family while we learned from them. There's one unfortunate reality to homestay programs, and that is since host families receive money for putting up their Japanese guests, homestay has been turned into a for-profit activity by some, who host as many foreign guests as their houses will hold and greatly reduce the chance for useful cultural sharing. If you think you'd be interested in hosting Japanese students and sharing your home with them, learning from them as you help them learn about your home country, please look into what programs you can find on the web. Searching Yahoo or Google for homestay programs in your city is a good place to start. Personally, I got the most from hosting high school students and recommend hosting students between the ages of 15 and 18, especially if you have kids of similar ages.

I've heard is said that when French people learn English, the first thing that needs to be done is to re-learn how to pronounce many words in their target language, since so many words in English originate from French (a little gift from William the Conqueror). Similiarly, Japanese use many English words, but the pronunciations aren't always the same as they are in American English. First of all, you have to get "in tune" with the way words are forced into the Japanese system of syllables, which often changes the way they sound. The English word "weekend" becomes a six-syllable word when pronounced in Japanese -- "u-ii-ku-e-n-do" (oo-EE-koo-EHN-doh), and if you want people to understand you, you have to be at peace with pronouncing the word that way, instead of "weekend." Also, some words are just imported differently, according to phonetic rules that make sense to the Japanese. The two most popular search engines in Japan are Google and Yahoo, but they're pronounced "goh-guru" and "yah-hoe" -- only slightly different from how we say them in the States, but it's enough. Live in Japan long enough, and you start letting this Japanese pronunciation of English words slip back into "real" English, and the results can really be embarrassing.

Spring has come to Japan, and although I love cherry blossoms as much as the next gaijin, I could truly do without the pollen that causes terrible hayfever for many living in Japan. Dozens of flowering trees (Japanese cedars being the most famous culprits) give off their pollen, one flowering in season right after the other, and the end result is an endlessly running nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and general misery.

For our latest update, we've got some nice items for you, including:

  • First, we've got some nice new magazines, including the new Gal's Dee, featuring lovely pro and amateur Japanese models of cup "D" and larger
  • For fans of erotic Japanese photobooks, enjoy the lesbian grave of Izumi Morino and Yuka Asato, and the slender hair nude of Neon Yukino
  • For fans of Japan's high-end bondage and fetish photobooks, we've got an excellent new item for fans of "New Half" (i.e., dick girls)
  • We've got another major update to our hentai manga page, with half a dozen or so all-new volumes, as well as fresh stock of several popular manga
  • For yaoi lovers, we've updated the yaoi page for you as well
  • DVD collectors should check out our newly posted items, starting with the very erotic Deep Kiss 14 lesbian kissing DVD from Soft on Demand, great as always (region free)
  • For fans of the very attractive Japanese "girl next door" Shinobu Kasagi, she's got a fun bondage bukkake DVD offering from SOD (region free)
  • For fans of cosplay and adult performances from Japan, we've got a great "non stop mega hits" collection featuring 230 mind-boggling minutes of top adult video on one great DVD (region free)
  • For fans of M's Video Group, the very rare and popular bukkake studio in Japan, we've got a great new release (VHS)
  • For more erotic cosplay fun, see the dynamite Yuuna Akimoto perform in some of the sexiest costumes we've seen, including China dress, erotic ninja, anime costumes and more (region 2)
  • For serious leg, stocking and boot fetish fans, we present "Boots and Stocking" with the performances of three gorgeous ladies. As the package says, "it's satisfied with the lady's leg deliciously!"
  • Newly restocked adult DVD titles include the excellent Complete Compilation of Ai Nagase and All About Ai Nagase (you can see that Tomo really loves her, since he's in charge of ordering DVD titles), Shake it! (tekoki fetish), the Semen Championship Carnival, and more
  • For sweet idol fans, enjoy the lovely Happy End?, a cute mini-drama in which four beautiful girls manage to fall in love with the same man
  • Also: fresh stock of some cute swimsuit idol photobooks for you
  • For fans of Japan's excellent and unique toys, we've got a major update of Kubrick Planet of the Apes toys for you, with stock of all the great action figures based on the original movies
  • Also: fresh stock of some extremely popular items, including Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service change purses, the totally cute Soot Sprite keychain, Laputa figure sets, and fresh stock of Sun Arrow stuffed animals
  • We've got some great new snack items for you, including sesame seed covered chocolate balls (yes, we know, but they're really quite good), tasty Honey Black Candy, fresh stock of gum and Pocky, and more
  • Also, great foods you can prepare at home, including garlic fried rice (Japanese style), a fun Hello Kitty Milk Pudding mix, and two new varieties of furikake (food you sprinkle over rice)
  • Now that the weather has gotten warmer, we've brought back a summer favorite, tea bags for making delicious Japanese mugi (barley) tea, a very healthy and delicious drink for the summer
  • We have some great Hello Kitty items for you, including notebooks for school, hair care products,
  • We've got more cool items for dog lovers, including an official "The Dog" cube money bank with different dogs' images on each side
  • If you ever loved Ultraman, we've got another extra large soft vinyl figure from the world of Ultra-Q in stock
  • Finally, find killer chopsticks made of sturdy bamboo, the most excellent push pin you will ever find, authentic Japanese incense, and bath powder containing real green tea, all in stock now!

We're making some more improvements to the J-List database system to increase speed and bandwidth. If you notice any weirdness with images displaying oddly, or anything else working strangely on your system, please let us know. Things should be running smoothly in a very short time.