Friday, August 30, 2002

Greetings from J-List August 30, 2002

Hello and TGIF from your friends in Japan!

August is drawing to a close, and that means that summer vacation is ending for kids in Japan. Japan is a very seasonal place, and come Sept. 1st, virtually all pools and beaches in the country will be closed, despite the fact that September is still plenty hot. One aspect of summer vacation for Japanese children is rushing to get your homework done -- yes, students are given quite a lot of homework to do during the summer break, and there never seems to be enough time to get it all done before the last few days of August. Japanese summer vacations are much shorter than in the U.S., just six weeks instead of three months. As a parent, I think the combination of shorter summer breaks and homework, which help limit how much students forget, are both great ideas.

For one reason or another, some phrases in English have burned themselves on the collective consciousness of the Japanese, and are quite famous here. When an American named Dr. Clark (universally known as "Clark-hakase" HA-KA-say) went to Sapporo to help establish what would become Sapporo University, he left the following advice to his Japanese hosts: "Boys, be ambitious!" (i.e., strive to achieve excellence in all that you do). These three words are studied by all Japanese, and somehow manage to pop up all over the place in one form or another. (There's a manga series called "Boys Be..." that is based on this phrase.) When pop singer Momoe Yamaguchi retired from singing, she sang a song to her fans that went "Thank you for your kindness...thank you for your tenderness" and as a result, virtually all Japanese over 30 know this famous phrase. Famous speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln ("Government for the people, by the people, and of the people") are studied in school the same way we studied Shakespeare in the U.S., too.

Okinawa is an interesting place, and is very much the "Hawaii" of Japan. A separate island kingdom until 1609 when it was annexed, Okinawa has a very interesting culture that's completely different from that of Japan. The scene of one of the worst battles of World War II in which 260,000 people died, Okinawa became a part of the U.S. from after the war until it was returned to Japan in 1972. Like all corners of Japan, it's got various foods that it's famous for, which include a variation of ramen with soup made from bonito fish. Many of Japan's pop singers come from Okinawa, too, including Speed, Amuro Namie and Da Pump. J-List's Yasu, who is going to be a father in December, is going to Okinawa with his wife over the weekend, for a last trip with his wife before the baby is born.

At J-List, we love the excellent bishoujo CD-ROM game products of Peach Princess, which include the best-selling X-Change, Tokimeki Check in!, Critical Point, Water Closet and Snow Drop. From now through the end of September, we're happy to announce that we'll give free shipping in the U.S./Canada (half price shipping for international) for all titles by Peach Princess. It's a great time to you to pick up the games you were waiting to get! All games by Peach Princess are translated into English and are 100% uncensored, and they're great fun to play!

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

  • First, we've got a very nice new item for Star Wars fans and collectors: a giant-sized "completed model" of a Clone Trooper created for the Japanese market by Kotobukiya and ArtFX
  • Also, the long-lost Star Wars puzzles that were not posted on Monday, but are on the site now (although stock is limited so they might sell out quickly)
  • For fans of Gundam who wished they had a cute robot like Haro, friend of Amuro Rei and Camille in the first two Gundam series, we've got the super-cool Haro robot toy from Bandai in stock!
  • For fans of Leiji Matsumoto's famous anime works, we've got a Captain Harlock figure set as well as limited stock of the original Space Battleship Yamato manga in stock
  • We love finding things that can't be found outside of Japan, and we've got some nice Sanrio items for you, including a nice Hello Kitty electric toothbrush and an ice cube tray that makes 3D Sanrio characters in ice
  • Also, we've added stock of the very nice Kimono Hello Kitty plush toys that had sold out
  • For fans of Japanese snacks, we've got new onigiri (rice ball) mix, delicious Mexican fried rice mix, several new types of Japanese miso soup, Japanese "hakka" peppermint candy, and more
  • We've got some nice photobooks for you too, including the charming swimsuit photobook of Atsuko Kurusu
  • Japan has many lovely idols who are charming and pretty, and we've got the excellent "image DVD" of Marika Matsumoto in stock for you (region 2 DVD).
  • We've got many fun kitchen-related items today, including a handy way to crush garlic, a handy ladel for making home-made donuts, new bento boxes, and a spiffy serving board for serving sushi
  • Also, we've added stock of the Princess Mononoke, Whisper of the Heart and My Neighbor Totoro, the Japan DVD releases that come with full English subtitles and dubbed tracks (region 2)
  • For Ultraman fans, a super alarm clock you won't want to miss out on
  • Finally, we've got other cute stuff, including fresh stock of "Afro Ken" (the dog with a 'fro) letter sets, a great Totoro table clock and cuckoo clock (!), and fresh stock of a popular Totoro music box.

For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products, too, including:

  • For fans of Japanese adult magazines, especially the sassy class of Japanese girl known as "kogal," we've got the very nice new Urecco Gal in stock for you
  • Also, a special item for Mai Hagiwara fans, a photobook magazine dedicated entirely to the best erotic photos of Mai's career
  • For fans of Japan's bishoujo games, we have the new issue of Push!! which comes complete with two CD-ROMs of stuff for you to check out
  • We always strive to carry excellent photobooks for you, and we've got some nice ones in for you today (including the lovely Sola Aoi's new hardcover photobook), both new and fresh stock of past popular items
  • For doujinshi fans, we've got another volley of two dozen or so of these highly-collectible works, all printed and sold at the past summer Comic Market -- but we have extremely limited stock of these items
  • Also, we've got stock of a top-quality erotic doujinshi in the "Nuki Lum" (Make Lum Come) series by Fujio Okamoto that's *all color* and comes with a hentai CD-ROM, too
  • For hentai manga fans, enjoy the items we've posted for you, including the very erotic "Touch the Breasts" erotic comic, Kiss Me in an Erotic Way, and more!
  • We were surprised and pleased with the warm reception our Japanese "dutch wives" (inflatable love pillows based on famous Japanese AV idols), so we've restocked them -- in stock are Ai Kurosawa, Hitomi Hayasaka and Akari Yamazaki
  • In our San Diego office, we've added fresh stock of English-language hentai DVDs for you to browse and check out
  • We've got some excellent DVDs for you, starting with fresh stock of two best-selling hits, "Excellent Double Bomb" by Mai Shiina and the lovely Mizuno Kanou (aka Jun Kusanagi); and the wonderful Evangelion cosplay erotica release, "Costume Play Perfection" (region free)
  • We've got a superb new lesbian performance, brought to you by Princess Road and Dogma (region free)
  • The "History of Kurumi Morishita" releases continue, with a new collection of her best works from SOD (region free)
  • Enjoy the best erotic kissing Japan has to offer in a new production, "Kiss of the Year 2002," by Deep's (region free)
  • We love the sultry Mirai Hoshizaki, and we love the bold AV put out by Wanz Factory -- enjoy her new "Private Observation of Female Body" series (region 2)
  • Finally, we've restocked many popular titles, including the No Cut!! series, Sally Yoshino's popular "Abnormal Privacy," Nao Hirosue's dick girl release "Penis Venus," fresh stock of the dramatic and erotic "Roommate" with Kurumi Morishita and Ai Nagase, and many more!

The "top 5" has been updated for the past week again, so you can see what is popular at J-List these days. You can click each category too, to browse the items that are selling the best.

The J-Mate site has been updated again for you, too, with a review of Mayu Koizumi's bold "Fuckin' of Hundred" in which she performs with a whopping 100 Japanese amateur men who are eager to get to be with such a hot woman. There are many screenshots so you can get a good idea of what this title is like. The URL for J-Mate is http://www.jmate.com/ -- enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Greetings from J-List August 28, 2002

Hello again from Japan. My wife and kids got home from the U.S. last night, so my quiet week spent rattling around the house along has come to an end at last. As usual, the kids came back chirping away happily in English, especially my daughter Rina, who absorbs English like a sponge when she visits the U.S. (but reverts to full Japanese just as quickly when she comes home). It's nice having them all back safely.

Japan's long ongoing recession continues, as business remains bad for many industries. Prices in Japan are actually falling, due to a deflationary spiral the country has fallen into -- it seems every day, I see a something that costs less today than it did a few years ago, from McDonald's hamburgers to Yoshinoya beef bowl to clothes. But not all aspects of the Japanese economy are in recession: while hard times may be falling on some fringe industries like makers of toilet seats that wash your butt (we have one of these at home by the way), manufacturers in core industries like housing and automobiles are doing surprisingly well. Honda recently posted their most profitable quarter in their history, earning $905 million on $16 billion in automobile sales, showing that Japanese consumers haven't stopped spending money altogether, they've just narrowed their spending habits and aren't wasting money on frivolous things.

There are many key reasons why much of Japan is having economic troubles. First and foremost is the sea of bad loans that are smothering Japan's banking industry, which came about originally when Japan's stock-and-land bubble burst at the start of the 1990's -- banks had issued billions in loans using land as collateral, but now the value of the original land has fallen by as much as half, causing a banking crisis ten times worse than the Savings and Loan problem in the U.S. back in the 1980s. Most of Japan's industries are very mature, and they lack the innovation and "eye of the tiger" that some other Asian nations such as South Korea have shown in opening new markets. Japan's population is an aging one, and business owners in their 50s and 60s don't have the same ability to cope with change as younger people might. Most leaders of Japan's corporations are also nearing retirement, and grow more and more averse to taking on risks that might do harm to the company and endanger their own retirement savings. Finally, while America bubbles with entrepreneurial energy (just pick up an issue of Inc Magazine to feel it), I see very little interest by young Japanese in embarking on the great adventure of starting their own businesses -- which is really sad, since I can tell you what a thoroughly fulfilling experience it can be. Sadly, it's just not a part of the culture of business here as it is in the U.S.

One thing foreigners notice when they come to Japan is the practice of putting samples of the food in restaurant windows so prospective customers can see how delicious the food is before they go in. The sample "food" is made of wax so it will keep for a long time, and the creation of delicious-looking fake food is an established form of art that goes back into Japan's Edo Period. Part of the start-up costs for opening a restaurant include hiring a company that does nothing but make fake wax food to create samples of the items on the menu to display to customers. There are competitions in Japan for wax food artists to compete to see who can make the most delicious fake food.

New in stock for fans of our funny Japanese T-shirts, an esoteric four-character Japanese message that could be translated as "Respect men, women are lowly" or "Up with male domination." It describes the attitude in males that they are naturally superior to women, an idea that is still very much a part of Japanese society today -- a taboo message, but one that's bizarre and fun to wear. Great for shocking Japanese people, plus it's a very attractively designed 100% cotton T-shirt.

Also, we've updated many items on the J-List site, adding fresh stock of many DVD, manga, toy, and "wacky" items for you to browse and enjoy. We've got new and back-in-stock Hello Kitty items for you, some excellent photobooks and rare comics, new Japanese snack and food items (including more miso soup mix, can't keep that in stock). Also, fresh stock of many toy items, including even more Domo-kun phone straps (everyone loves Domo-kun), and fresh stock of our best-selling talking gyroscopic light saber, released only in Japan by Tomy. Please enjoy the newly posted items!

Remember that Japan's 2003 calendar season is right around the corner. Very soon we'll have hundreds of great JPOP, idol, anime and other rare calendars from Japan for you to order (we're waiting for the calendar material from our distributor). We've already posted the first volley of calendars for you to browse, so check out the excellent and uniquely Japanese items already available for preorder. Of course they make great gifts, too.

J-List sells many nice and unique products from Japan, and one that we're especially proud of are the authentic school uniforms made by Matsukameya of Nagoya, Japan. These excellent uniforms are of the highest quality, and although they cost more than some cheesy imitation items we might have chosen (summer uniform tops start at $125, the high-quality pleated skirts at $135), we think you will be completely satisfied with these truly unique icons of Japanese culture. An especially good thing about Matsukameya's school uniforms is that you can choose from many styles, and many sizes, too -- consult the handy measurement chart to see which size is right for the intended recipient.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Greetings from J-List August 26, 2002

Greetings again from all of us in Japan!

First of all, J-List updated or mail server software over the weekend, and changed all accounts over to the new system. If you experience any problems with email messages sent to our J-List email addresses (jlist@jlist.com, sales@jlist.com etc.) such as bounced mail or messages saying that the mail could not be delivered because your domain is "blacklisted," please email our alternate account at j_stuff@mac.com immediately. Let us know if you experience any problems or unexpected behavior -- thank you!

While Japanese generally study at least six years of English in junior high and high school (more if they attend college), most Japanese are not competent at communicating in English. The reasons for this are many, but at the forefront is the fact that English is a "foreign" language in Japan, something that is studied as a separate entity, totally outside the lives of normal Japanese. English is never used in daily life in Japan because there is little use for it here -- except for helping the occasional lost foreigner find which subway line goes to Roppongi or going to Hawaii or California, most Japanese don't need to use English. Only Japanese who are extremely interested in the culture of America and Europe and very motivated, like J-List's Tomo, Yasu and Mayumi, can attain the "critical mass" needed to really master English. The Japanese Ministry of Education is doing what it can to change the situation, but there are two big roadblocks to effective English education in Japan, which are a) most teachers teaching English in schools here do not have a functional handle on English themselves, which embarrasses them and causes them to resist reform, and b) Japan's famous test culture rewards students for memorizing lists of arcane vocabulary words for college entrance exams, but never moves them toward any competence at communicating in English.

Because English has been taught in schools in Japan since the end of World War II, most Japanese do have a basic functional understand of English, even if they can't communicate in it. This causes English to seep into the Japanese language in many ways, creating words like "rinse in shampoo" (shampoo with cream rinse in it) and "soft cream" (soft serve ice cream). Since most Japanese can understand at least a little English, movie titles are often left in English, but are "reduced" so they're easier to understand. "You've Got Mail" was released here as "You got mail" -- essentially the same, just a little easier for Japanese to remember. "Aliens" became "Alien 2," "Ms. Congeniality" was reduced to "Dangerous Beauty," and "The Sum of All Fears," which I caught last week with my wife, was reduced to "Total Fears."

For the new update to the J-List site, we've got a bundle of new items for you, including:

  • First, we've got some excellent toy items for you, including the brand-new Transformers toy series from Takara, not released outside of Japan
  • Another fun item an "exploding Darth Vader game" that you can play alone or with your friends -- when will the Lord of the Sith blow up?
  • Yasu has been hard at work restocking our toy and anime items after the Japanese O-Bon holidays, and we've got fresh stock of Domo-Kun phone straps, Japan-release Hot Wheels, and the surprisingly popular Kubrick Amelie figure series
  • For Star Wars fans, more stocked items, including the Kiran Kiran light-up necklaces and very rare stuffed Jawa and Ewok plush toys
  • J-List sells Japanese fude (FOO-day) pens which allow you to write as if you were using a Japanese brush pen and ink -- we've got several new fude pen items in stock for you
  • Enjoy new Japanese snack items, including cute gummi Hamtaro characters (fun to bite the heads off), great Japanese vinegar flavored potato snacks, more Hello Kitty fried rice, and Japanese watermelon candy
  • For fans of the highly collectible Studio Ghibli DVD players, we've gotten in the last stock we'll be able to get of these really nice DVD players. We've posted them to the site, and at a lower price, too
  • For Sanrio fans, we've got stock of several fun items, including a Kitty plush dressed up as a penguin (very cute), Hello Kitty straws and chopsticks, and a really nifty Pom Pom Purin color memo pad
  • If you love Japan's pretty bikini idols, a whole world unto itself in Japan, we've got the new Operation of Chinatsu Iwatsuki, featuring a magazine and full DVD (region 2) you can enjoy
  • J-List sells authentic "loose socks," those baggy socks that high school girls wear in Japan, and we've restocked both the 80 cm and 120 cm sizes for you -- they go great with the authentic high school uniforms we also sell
  • Finally, look for Japanese miso soup bowls, sweat bands for your wrists, a nice wind chime made of wood charcoal, and other wacky things from Japan!

For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products, which include:

  • For magazine lovers, we've got several amateur magazines in stock, including new hitozama and other items as well as more discounted magazine items
  • For fans of Japan's fetish of "cosplay" or costume play, we've got an interesting magazine of Japanese girls who dress in famous costumes (stewardess, tennis uniform, bus guide) for you
  • Also, we've got beautiful new hardcover photobooks by Mai Hoshino and the lovely Shiori Souma that really capture the beautiful nude grace of these models
  • We've got new doujinshi in stock, the excellent "dick girl" fetish comics in the series called "The Great World of Alchemy" (or TGWOA for short) -- and these doujinshi feature pages of "English Outline" in which the creators explain the story of their creation, really nice!
  • For hentai manga fans, we've got some great new works for you, including Goddess Detectives (a very erotic comic from Mujin Comics), and the very nice "Prisoner"
  • Also, a super huge format comic that features pages twice as large as normal comics along with 350 pages, the very erotic "Breaking in the Locked Room"
  • For DVD fans, another selection of quality AV titles for you, starting with a great re-release of Momo Aida's 2-in-1 DVD, Primary, for fans of this lovely 1990's AV star (she's the first AV idol I fell in love with in Japan) (region free)
  • From Million, a great collection of 4 hours of "large breast fetish" AV starring 24 beautiful gals (region free)
  • Airi Niiyama, the sweet and erotic AV idol from Japan, will "assist your masturbation" in a great new release from SOD (region free)
  • In Japan, a major category of erotica is "chijo," translated as "lewd woman" or "slut" -- see women who actively crave and pursue sex in another release from Soft on Demand (region free)
  • See the best "solo sex" of the models of Tohjiro's "Blue Sexual Desire" series, featuring six of Japan's top indies idols (region free)
  • See the lovely Chinese AV idol Emily perform incredibly bold eros for you in a new release from Moodyz (region 2)
  • Finally, we have a huge update of new DVD titles for you including One Week with Only Semen (see the J-Mate review, below), the excellent Cosplay Royal Collection, SOD's Confinement Lesbian, Aika Miura's excellent Lewd Actress, and more!

J-List sells many interesting items from Japan, including our trademark "funny Japanese T-shirts" which are printed in the USA and come in all sizes, from small all the way up to XXXL. Our most popular T-shirt by far is the "Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend," which outsells all other shirts, followed by "Dirty American Devil" "Confident in my Sexual Power" and "I am a Pervert" shirts. Up and coming is the very popular shirt "Respect the Emperor, Expel the Foreign Barbarians." All shirts are 100% cotton and all sizes are stocked, for speedy shipment to you!

The J-Mate site has been updated with a new English-translated interview with the lovely Aoi Minori, and a new review of Nanami Nanase's now-classic "One Week with Only Semen." The site can be accessed at http://www.jmate.com/