Friday, May 03, 2002

Greetings from J-List May 3, 2002

Hello again from Japan! Today is the first day of the string of Japanese holidays known as Golden Week, so things are quiet around here. But Tomo, Yasu and myself are here, working hard to bring you more interesting stuff from Japan.

One thing I can say about Japan: I really love the food here. It would be quite difficult to live here for nearly ten years if I didn't. Just as Japan has taken elements from various other countries as it modernized itself over the past century, the Japanese palette has been influenced by many parts of the world. Some of the most common Japanese food, such as ramen and one of my favorite foods of all time, gyoza ("pot stickers"), are really from China. If the Japanese have a single staple food that everyone eats, it has to be "curry rice" which is a mild, thick curry based on British versions of Indian curries. Spaghetti from Italy is popular, of course, and yakiniku (Korean Barbecue) is another popular food. The Japanese also imported many dishes from Europe (since the Japanese secretly wish they were a part of that continent), including doria, gratin, and hamburg steak (which we'd call Salsbury steak in the U.S.). Other foods, such as udon, sushi and sashimi, are completely "made in Japan."

Do you know what year it is? I often don't. In additional the Western calendar, the Japanese have a unique system of counting years based on the reign of the current emperor. The current era is the 14th year of the Heisei era (Heisei means "peach and prosperity"), when the Emperor Hirohito died and was succeeded by his son, so this year is Heisei 14. Before Heisei was the Showa era (from 1925 to 1988), before that was Taisho, and Meiji, and so on -- Japanese students have to memorize them all. Incidentally, the current Emperor of Japan is 125th in an unbroken line of emperors going back 2000 years. His name is Akihito, but since he's always called "Emperor Heisei" in Japan, it's quite common for Japanese to not know the name of their own emperor (Yasu didn't when I just asked him).

J-List carries unique anime, manga, fashion, JPOP and other magazines by "reserve subscription," allowing you to get the current issue each month sent to you automatically, until you tell us to stop. We're happy to report that we've gone through and lowered our prices for all of these magazines, allowing you to get the fun and unique magazines you want each month and save some money, too. And we've added three new magazines: Model Graphix, the excellent magazine of anime models and toys that is a real treat to read each month; Dengeki G's, a magazine that follows all the pretty girls from Japan's bishoujo games and anime; and S Cawaii, a new Japanese fashion and kogal culture magazine for those who want to follow Japan's fashion trends.

For the pre-weekend update, we've got some great items for you, including:

  • First, we've got some nice new magazines, including the new issues of amateur and kogal magazines such as Mini Teen, Yo! and the bukkake magazine I'll Love You
  • Also: more discounted magazine items for those looking for bargains, although our stock is always selling out fast
  • For fans of indies AV, check out the new issue of MPEG Indies, a spiffy magazine that comes with not one but two Video CDs full of sample AV for you to watch -- a great bargain!
  • We've got several beautiful new photobooks in stock for you, including Akane Souma's wonderful sexy photobook, a new offering from Queen of the Race Queens Fumika Suzuki, and a great new hardcover photobook from Yoshino Sally!
  • We've got several nice issues of Japan's newest adult comics for you, including the excellent "Immoral Maria"
  • Also, a restocking of some classic comics, including the popular Electric Fighting Daughters series (all hentai game girl comics), as well as (limited) fresh stock of the damned-cool "Irodori"
  • We have some great new DVD offerings for you today, starting off with a first for J-List and Japan: Korean adult video, published by Deep's to commemorate the upcoming Japan/Korea hosted World Cup -- it's as different from Japanese AV as Japanese is from American, and very beautiful to see (region free)
  • Also from SOD, we've got a fantastic new erotic performance by Sally Yoshino, as she hunts down male virgins and steals their cherries (region free)
  • We've got another volley of the fast-disappearing SOD Memorial DVDs, including bondage, under-skirt fetish, "first lesbian" and more (region free)
  • We've got a beautiful new soft porn offering from Bauhaus, with a powerful lineup of lovely stars: Aoi Minori, Sally Yoshino, Rio Sannomiya, Rin Tomosaki and Akira Watase! If you buy no other Japanese cosplay DVD this year... (region free)
  • Finally, for region 2 collectors (including J-list customers who have purchased the region free players we now sell), the lovely Airi Niiyama's 180 minute erotic performance "The Idol" (region 2)
  • As mentioned up, see the great new magazines available by revolving subscription: Model Graphix, G's Magazine and the super-cute Super Cawaii!
  • Also, a great new direction for J-List, we're going to start carrying the beautiful "character clocks" by citizen, and we've got a cute dancing Hello Kitty wall clock and one of the coolest items I've ever seen, a deluxe Totoro Cockoo clock that is truly amazing. Our initial stock of these clocks is limited but more are on order already
  • Another great new category of item at J-List, we now carry inexpensive Japanese fans which are both beautiful to look at and useful for keeping yourself cool this summer!
  • For Japanese snack and food fans, look for some nice new items including a smooth and delicious coffee candy from Japan, new "raw type" miso soup mix, plum flavored sesame seeds (which taste better than they sound), Sakuma mint candies, and fresh stock of the popular Japanese Mugi-cha (barley tea) that's great for summer
  • We've got some nice Hello Kitty items for you, including Hello Kitty cookies, a nifty tiny tupperware container,
  • J-List customers tell us they want Maneki Neko, the cute "inviting cat" who invites good luck, love and money into your life, so we've obliged with several new items
  • If you're a fan of our Japanese Race Queen and idol items, be sure and see what we've got in stock for you today!
  • We've gotten in fresh stock of the Spirited Away color film comics, for fans who want to collect these beautiful all-color anime books, by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Finally, look for more wacky stickers from Japan, a useful took for cutting your children's hair, a super all-purpose canvas bag with many uses, and more!

J-List customers tell us that word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends is the #1 way they've heard of us. This makes us very happy. If you've got a friend who might appreciate the unique Japanese pop culture and "slice of life" we bring you from Japan, please tell them about us!

Well, that's all for now -- we hope you have a very nice Golden Week, and we'll see you on the web!

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Greetings from J-List May 1, 2002

Greetings from all your friends at J-List!

They have some interesting customs in Japan related to children. Thirty days after a child is born, you take him to your local Shinto shrine and have the priest announce his name to the gods, in a ceremony that's sort of like a christening. When a child loses a tooth, you throw it on the roof of your house (if it was a lower tooth) or under your house (if it was an upper tooth), to encourage the growth of new, healthy teeth. And in my family, when our children turned one years old, we tied one kilogram (2 pounds) of mochi (Japanese rice cake) to the kids to make it difficult for them to walk. We then put money, an abacus, and food at opposite corners of the room, to see which item the kids went to pick up. This determines the child's future (whether he'll become rich, or good at math, and so on.) Both our kids went for the money.

May 5 is another special day for kids, Children's Day, really a festival for boy children. During this time families fly huge kites made to look like fish swimming upsteam when the wind blows, called Koi-Nobori or Upsteam Swimming Carp. If you drive around Japan in late April and early May, you can't miss the giant fish-kites flying in the breeze. Some part of Japan are famous for having the grandest, longest koi-nobori, and really take pride in their work. You can see pictures of some of these here: http://www.mikimaru.net/etshioda/sophia/j-trivia/trivia08.html

There are always subtle differences between countries. One of the first things I noticed upon coming to Japan was that the milk tasted vaguely funny, different than it did in the States. It didn't take long to get used to, but the funny taste it still noticeable after all these years. Japanese are big fans of thick, creamy milk, with 3.6 or 4.2 milkfat in it, since they are such a thin race of people. While lowfat (1%) is generally available, it's next to impossible to find skim milk here.

We're very happy to see the warm reaction to our region free DVD players, and many customers have picked up the $119 players, which allow you to view DVDs from all over the world via a simple remote control setting (no firmware to upload). Many of the DVDs that J-List sells, including all Japanese anime, Japanese film and most "Indies" adult DVDs, are region 2, and having a player like this is really convenient.

For the new update, we've got some excellent new items for you, including:

  • First, some great new magazines, including the new issues of the great adult video magazines Best Video and Video Boy, filled with lovely models for you
  • Also, we've got new amateur and kogal magazines from Japan, including the new Lip Mate
  • We've got great new photobooks in stock for you, including the erotic hardcover photobook of the lovely Rio Sannomiya, limited stock of Manatsu Hirose's popular first photobook, and many more
  • We've got some great new hentai manga in stock for you including the very nice "Legend of Lewd Love" by Angel Comics, as well as fresh stock of more popular past items
  • For fans of Tohru Nishimaki, good news -- even lower prices on the extra-large Japanese "hugging character pillows" (daki-makura)
  • Our region-free DVD players are selling very well, which makes us happy, since it means that more people in the world will be able to watch ALL the DVDs from Japan, be they region free or region 2. They're just $119 and in stock in San Diego
  • For DVD collectors, we've got another large update for you, starting with the Soft on Demand Memorial series, four more great bargain-prices releases -- but they will go fast (region free)
  • The ultimate Japanese adult DVD for soccer fans, we've got stock of the FERA World Fuck Championship, a great "all nude soccer" hardcore title from (region free)
  • We've got "Bisexual," a superb "lesbian and bisexual" DVD presenting the excellent sex of Japanese girls (region free)
  • For region 2 DVD buyers, a special "fetish lesbian" DVD presenting the "sweet, beautiful, immoral and hardcore lesbian world" (region 2)
  • The Dream Shower series from Waap presents the excellent bukkake performance of Miyuki Hourai (region 2)
  • A great release for lovers of Nao Oikawa (which was posted on Friday but didn't show on the J-List site), her AV Special Training production from Wanz Factory (highly recommended)
  • Finally, a great restock of our DVD titles, including Mizuho Kano titles, new stock of Lesbian Lovers and the popular No Cut DVDs, Aika Miura Special, and the "How to Perfect" series from Wanz
  • We've got some great new Hello Kitty items in stock for you, including cute 3D stickers, cute Japanese stamps and a special item for soccer fans
  • For Sailor Moon lovers, we have the limited edition Sailor Moon bottle cap series in stock
  • Also: a whopping 800 units of that great gag item, the Hello Kitty Vibrating Should Massage
  • Newly added snack items include new Japanese green tea candy, delicious mango citrus cookies, new varieties of Japanese "furikake" (which you sprinkle over rice for an instant meal), Hamutaro ice cocoa mix, and more
  • Also: fresh stock of some of our most popular items, such as HimoQ, Tropicana soft candy, Japanese traditional "black candy" and sake candy, and the very last Pocky we'll be getting in before fall (since Pocky melts in Japan's hot summer)
  • J-List carries dozens of cute items in "The Dog" series, and now we've got a whole new generation of the lovable little plush dogs, this time in super small size
  • We have two new deluxe plush stuffed toys of My Neighbor Totoro, excellent products made by Sun Arrow
  • We have some nice bento and kitchen-related items, including a Ojamajo Doremi rice bowl set for your kids, more cool bento boxes and bento related items
  • Another item posted last time but not mentioned, the very cool Bit Char-G tiny remote control car toys, from Takara
  • We have new Japanese notebooks in stock, including items to help you study Japanese (hiragana and katakana notebooks)
  • Finally, look for the ultimate travel pack, a very happy bag to put anything in, a great traditional Japanese wind chime, and more!

The J-Mate site has been updated yet again (I keep finding time to add reviews when I should be doing other things). Read reviews of Mai Hagiwara's Platonic Love, Yinling's Joytoy DVD, and more! Also, remember that we are always happy to receive reviews on Japanese manga, photobooks, DVDs and other items. If you've got a product you'd like to review, please email us! The J-Mate site's URL is http://www.jmate.com/

As a Star Wars fan, I've been enjoying the fan-made Star Wars short films such as Broken Allegiance, made with surprisingly good special effects and production quality by fans. See http://www.theforce.net/theater/ to download these very cool movies.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Greetings from J-List April 29, 2002

Hello again from Japan, the country where no one eats Cream of Wheat (because it looks to them like Okayu, a watery rice dish eaten by sick people).

No matter how long I live in Japan, there are some things I just can't go without. Although the Japanese have a long tradition of pickling vegetables (including making kim-chee, Korean spicy pickles), they're not just a replacement for good, crunchy Vlassic pickles that I am used to from home. Fortunately, through the Foreign Buyer's Club (http://www.fbcusa.com) expats in Japan can get anything from home quite easily, with the only catch being you must buy it in supermarket cases (e.g., 8 jars of pickles, not just one, 12 boxes of Raisen Bran, not one). When Japanese go to the U.S., they often pine for their own Japanese pickles, called tsukemono, which aren't easily available. I guess there's something about pickles that makes the ones from home taste the best.

It sometimes seems to outsiders living here that Japan is a very death-oriented society. Don't give gifts in multiples of four because the number four is read "shi" in Japanese, which also means death. Don't put you chopsticks straight up in your rice, since that's only done as part of a ceremony for the dead. Likewise, don't sleep with your head facing north, as bodies about to be cremated are laid facing this direction. Yet for all the customs that have to do with death, nearly all of which spring from Japan's various versions of Buddhism, the Japanese have almost no concept of estate planning. As far as I can tell, virtually all the things we do in the States to prepare for the event of one's death, from writing wills to making living trusts to investigating how to avoid death taxes, are not practiced here in Japan at all. Since my wife's parents have some land that will be transferred to my wife's name at the time of their death, I brought the topic up with them, to see if there was anything we should be doing ahead of time -- but it seem like this is something you just don't talk about in Japan. Likewise, I asked our accountant to recommend some options we might want to keep in mind about our own property in Japan, but he said no one really did anything to prepare for death estate-wise. Even the concept of drafting a will is not really practiced here. Because all Japanese have strong "common sense" built into them, a natural sense for the "way things should be" that all Japanese are in tune with, wills are not as necessary here. If I were to die without a will, common sense dictates that my wife and children would receive all my possessions, and this logic is rarely contested here.

We've been selling DVDs from Japan since the first ones started to emerge back in 1996. While the vast majority of the DVDs we sold were region free, over time we saw more and more DVDs coming out that were encoded for region 2 (Japan and Europe), mainly anime and the specialized adult DVDs known as "Indies." We have recommended some of the lower-cost players that could be found online, but many customers have told us they'd rather buy from J-List, who they trust, than some third party online seller. So, after much forehead slapping over missing out on a great idea, we're happy to report that we now carry our first region-free DVD player, the Lasonic DVB090, a solid region-free portable DVD/VCD/MP3 player that's also really inexpensive! And stocked in San Diego for your ordering convenience.

For the last update of the month of April, we've got some great items for you, including:

  • First, we've got the special 16th anniversary issue of Dela Beppin, featuring a great lineup of beautiful Japanese AV idols and models for you
  • We've got some great amateur and "wet" magazines for you as well, including kogals and another Japanese fetish, women who are unfaithful to their husbands
  • We have some great hardcover photobooks for you, with beautiful Japanese angels, and the sexy leg fetish photobook of Yuka Sawachi
  • We have excellent all-new hentai manga for you, including the erotic "Hidden Room" by artist "Beauty Hair" as well as new Yaoi volumes too
  • Also: a general restocking of a dozen or so volumes of hentai manga for your perusal
  • We've got more volumes of the very popular Bishoujo Grand Prix CD-ROMs by Lyceen, full of cute CG "hair nude" for Mac or Windows
  • For DVDs, first we've got another volley of the popular SOD Memorial Series, at just $10 each (region free)
  • Hina Uemura, a tantalizing new face at SOD, assists your masturbation with a great lineup of cosplay and fetish performances (region free)
  • There's a new Bukkake Circle in Blue Sky for bukakke lovers, by SOD's Natural High label (region free)
  • Fans of the lovely Azumi Kawashima will love her "Final Visual Collection" soft-porn DVD, which is just lovely (region free)
  • Also very lovely, the excellent return of Mai Hagiwara to Bauhaus, Platonic Love (region free)
  • Lovers of erotic Japanese girl-next-door Nao Oikawa (and they know who they are) should check out the new AV Special Training Department featuring Nao-chan, a sizzling new production from Wanz Factory (region 2)
  • Finally, we've got another great M's Video Group bukkake special for die-hard bukkake lovers
  • For anime and toy fans, we've got a great lineup of items, including a fantastic new Cosmo Tiger (Cosmo Zero) from Yamato/Star Blazers, and some all-new totally cool Japanese Hot Wheels cars
  • We've got some beautiful anime art books, including Cardcaptor Sakura and the very interesting Angel Cave, in stock!
  • Hello Kitty fans should check out the newly posted items, including a cool Hello Kitty cash register that really talks (you run food products over the bar code reader), and a Hello Kitty refrigerator you can put food in
  • We have some cute new items from The Dog series in stock, including cute The Dog pocket tissues that are so cute
  • Finally, newly posted snack items include Doraemon Gummi snacks, fresh stock of Mill Make (which all Japanese school kids drink), more delicious miso soup mix, Japanese wasabi, and more!

Along with my other hobbies, I am a big fan of 80's sci-fi movies. While watching my copy of Blade Runner late at night over some Sapporo Black Label beer and rice crackers, I happened across the ultimate Blade Runner fan site and movie FAQe, which I thought I'd pass along to you. The URL is http://www.brmovie.com/