Saturday, September 14, 2002

Greetings from J-List September 14, 2002

Greetings again from your resident gaijin in Japan!

A seal has become a media star in Japan this summer by swimming into Tokyo and charming residents there. The seal, who swam up the Tamagawa River, has been named Tama-chan by the news media, which reports on what he's been doing each day. Thousands of Japanese have flocked to the river to see Tama-chan for themselves. You can see a desktop wallpaper of him here: http://www.jlist.com/screen_001.jpg .

The Japanese are very into nicknames It seems that every famous singer and actor on TV here has a cute nickname that is universally known and used. Singer Ayumi Hamasaki, who has snagged the coveted "CL1" spot in our calendar list for three years running, is known simply as "Ayu." Actress Rena Tanaka is known as "Natchan" (Na-chan) because she appeared in commercials for Kirin's orange drink by the same name. J-List staff members have nicknames, too. Yasu used to eat a kind of chocolate called Yan-Yan, and so the name stuck to him as well. My wife's nickname was "Cha-kun" for reasons I can't discover (she won't tell me). My own nickname around the house is P-chan, but I wasn't named after the famous pig from Ranma 1/2. I was named after a 16 year old Siamese we used to have by the same name.

I remember reading through old Saint Seiya manga, while in college in the 80's, and wondering why they always write the blood type of each character along with their name, age and astrological sign. In Japan, it's believed that you can tell a lot about a person's personality and character traits from his blood type. Type A people are neat, tidy, and plan things meticulously, almost to a fault. Type B are "going my way" (as the Japanese say), meaning that they do their own thing without worrying about the opinions of others, and don't plan things out in advance. They can be messy, and tend to act on impulse (I am type B, and my wife is always commenting on why do some things I do based on my blood type). Type O people have a private world inside their minds, supposedly, and they're quick to become passionate about something, but then change to something else just as easily. Type O people have the ability to lead others. Finally, AB people have "two faces," one that they make in front of some people and another one they keep to themselves. Like the various beliefs that are related to Buddhism (such as, you're not supposed to sleep with your pillow pointing north, as this is reserved for the dead before cremation), the Japanese blood type beliefs are hard to get used to at first, but when you live here long enough, you start thinking there might be something to them after all...

We've got some nice items for you today, including a restocking of the entire series of Lunatic Party and Paradise Lost, two excellent "doujinshi anthologies" (wide manga-format books with dozens of doujinshi inside), parodying Sailor Moon and Evangeion. They're a great series, and although they're out of print, we managed to find some fresh stock. Enjoy browsing our stock of cool items from Japan.

The J-Mate page has been updated again, with a great interview with Ai Nagase, one of the most popular AV stars of the Indies revolution in Japan. Also, enjoy reviews (with lots of screenshots) of Ringo Kihara's erotic summer vacation and a great new release from Akira Watase. The URL for J-Mate is http://www.jmate.com/

Remember, this is the month to get free shipping (US/Canada) on all Peach Princess game titles. One title that I recommend for anime fans: Critical Point, the first sci-fi bishoujo game translated into English. Because it was written by one of the writers of the original Macross and Gundam series, it has that cool 80s anime "look and feel" with a great erotic hentai story.

I'm starting a new idea here at J-List: the Japanese Word of the Day. Today's word is one of the first that gaijin learn when they come to Japan: daijoubu (dai-JOE-boo). It's means "okay" or "alright" and pops up just about everywhere, in anime, manga, and even AV. Since the subject is often left off in Japanese, someone saying "Daijoubu?" would usually be asking "Are you alright?" with the subject taken from the context. Taking the "dai" (big) off leaves "joubu" which means "healthy." It's kind of funny though, because the characters for "joubu" mean "husband" in Chinese, thus the word "daijoubu" looks like it means "big husband" to Chinese who see the Japanese word.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Greetings from J-List September 12, 2002

Hello again from all of us in Japan!

The first anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster was a sad and sobering event here in Japan. The ceremonies taking place in the U.S. were covered in depth by the Japanese news stations, who did many hours of reporting on the sad anniversary. Takeshi "Beat" Kitano, the Japanese director and actor, was on hand to give his thoughts on the attacks. Japanese viewers were then shown the shocking footage of the inside of the WTC filmed by the French brothers Jules and Gideon Naudet who were making the documentary on firemen in New York during the attacks, some of the most riveting images I've ever seen. 24 Japanese were killed in the attacks, mostly workers at Japanese banks which were located in the building. Japanese have a great respect and love for America, and it was a great honor for them to have been able to work in such a prestigious building. Happily, many hundreds of Japanese employees were able to evacuate in time and were safe.

One of the engines for change in Japan is provided by people like me: foreigners who live here and observe the society from the inside. When I came to Japan in 1992, one of the first things I noticed was children playing in moving cars, standing up in the back seats and waving out the windows. There was no law requiring child safety seats in Japan at that time; it just wasn't part of the culture here. I have, at times, knocked on the windows of cars and told the drivers to please get child seats for their children. Another time, I caught a Japanese boy throwing his trash on the ground in a park, and I admonished him about keeping his country clean: he was wide-eyed with shock at being bawled out by an American speaking Japanese, and I think it took my words to heart more than he would otherwise have. Japan has been called the one country that cares what its foreign population thinks, and books about Japan written by gaijin living here are translated into Japanese and sell briskly. Of course, it's very easy to take the attitude that everything different from how things are back home is "wrong" (e.g., the Japanese drive on the "wrong" side of the street compared to the U.S.), and everyone living in a foreign country has a tendency to do this sometimes. About 1% of the population of Japan is made up of foreign nationals, mostly from countries like Brazil, Peru, South Korea. Japanese seem to think this is a high number, but when we went to Germany, we were told that 9% of the workers were guest workers were from Turkey (we're not sure if this number is accurate, but there sure were a lot of rowdy Turkish soccer fans when we were there).

Well, the great race to preorder 2003 Japanese calendars is on again this year, and we've already had hundreds of preorders for calendars, which will start to come in from our distributors around the end of September. It's still too early to guess which calendars will prove the most popular, but as usual, anime calendars like Chobits and Totoro, nude calendars like Ryoko Mitake and Hitomi Hayasaka, and idol calendars like Yuko Ogura and Yinling of Joytoy are off to a strong start. If you haven't seen the large calendars from Japan, with huge poster-sized sheets and beautiful printing, we hope you'll preorder some calendars from us so you can experience them. These calendars also make unique and thoughtful Christmas gifts, too. See the calendar pages for more information.

Have you seen some of our ads on magazines? J-List advertises in magazines like Giant Robot and While You Were Sleeping. If you found J-List through one of these advertisements, please reply to this mail and let us know. We like to keep track of how effective our advertising is. Thanks!

For the new update, we've got a ton of new items for you, including:

  • First, for all fans of the British sci-fi show Thunderbirds, we've got the cool 2nd series of Thunderbirds vehicles in for you (they're really cool) -- we have several sets available, too
  • "Domo" is a very useful Japanese word that can be used in almost any situation. There's a famous Japanese character called Domo-kun, and we've got several new products for Domo-kun fans and collectors, including a great plush square pillow, fresh stock of the cute Domo-kun plush dolls, and more
  • For fans of Hello Kitty, several nice items, including some very nice Hello Kitty Japanese bento boxes (lunch boxes) that are great, a Kitty "pair mug cup" set, and more
  • Speaking of Hello Kitty, we restocked what has become one of the most popular items in our history, the Hello Kitty vibrating shoulder massage -- we've got 600 in stock now (they make wacky Christmas gifts)
  • We love the cool Star Wars items released for the Japanese market, including the beautiful pre-painted figures by Kotobukiya -- we've posted the new Anakin Skywalker 1/7 scale figure, along with fresh stock of the popular Darth Vader figure that is so cool
  • We've gotten in fresh stock of several popular toy items, including the Totoro tin toy collection, the cool Bastard!! Gabriel deluxe figure, and the extremely cool Macross YV-21 die-cast fighter
  • For Kubrick fans, we've added a new category for Kubrick toys so they're easy to find -- enjoy our stock of these unique Japanese toys
  • New wacky and useful things from Japan, including cool "fude pens" (pens that write like Japanese writing brushes), Step Board to massage your feet, and fresh stock of our traditional soba noodle tray
  • Finally, we've added a few new calendars that weren't posted before, including Ichiro's 2003 calendar, various other sports, character and wacky calendars, and more.

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

  • For fans of Japan's excellent adult magazines, we've got the new issue of Gokuh, brimming with top-quality Japanese AV idols like Nao Oikawa, Mai Hagiwara and Ai Kurosawa
  • Also, for fans of Western women, we've got several issues of the surprisingly popular Bachelor, filled with beautiful models from America and Europe
  • One of our all-time favorite magazines is Photo Shot, the "Eichi Mook" (a mook is a cross between a magazine and a book), and we've got some issues in stock for you
  • For photobook fans, we've got some nice items, including the very erotic Mission Fetish, for panty and stocking fans
  • If you love Japan's erotic manga, we've got more volumes in stock for you, including some nice ones from Angel Comics, Fox Comics and more
  • Also: courtesy of Yasu, a major restocking of some popular manga issues, including Irodori, Fetish Doll, the Yui Shop erotic art boks, and more
  • Also, we've got doujinshi, including a dozen or more new doujinshi obtained at the most recent Comic Market, but they will go fast...
  • For DVD lovers, we've got more items for you, starting with a new Les Max 4 Hours (vol. 2), featuring 4 hours of excellent lesbian AV for you (region free)
  • Itsuki Ninoshita performs in a great new Fan Thanks Day from Soft on Demand, doing sex acts on her fans while wearing many famous anime costumes to say thanks for their support (region free)
  • See the anal sex of 50 AV actresses and amateur girls in a new offering from Deep's that's great for anal fans (region free)
  • We love the beautiful Maiko Kazano, and think you'll enjoy her silky new soft porn release from Take Shobo (region 2)
  • For fans of Wanz Factory's bold AV style, see Natsumi Kawahama's beautiful Hip & Vagina release, featuring excellent performances by this experienced woman (region 2)
  • Finally, Tomo has restocked the DVDs on our site, including Go Go Kanabun Land, Magic Mirror Boxcar Special Set, Anna Ohura's popular hardcore releases, Super Bishoujo Kiss, and DVDs by Akira Watase!

At J-List, we carry unique Japanese chewing gum from Japan, like Lotte's popular Blue Berry and Black Black (menthol gum with caffeine in it), and Xylitol gums (Xylitol is an advanced chemical from Norway that halts tooth decay). Check out our Japanese gum section and see all the cool items we've got in stock for you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Greetings from J-List September 10, 2002

Hello from all of us at J-List!

Well, Harumi's wedding at St. Marry's (sic) Church went off without a hitch. Japanese weddings are very structured, and there are many facets to them that are interesting for Westerners, many roles that each person involved with the wedding has to play. As the employer of the bride, I had to give the second speech, following the employer of the groom. During the "wedding party" (reception), Harumi's parents came over to pour my beer (pouring beer for others is a big custom in Japan) and thank me for giving the speech and to apologize for their "stupid, lazy and useless" daughter, which is a very complex thing that Japanese tend to do. Its one way that Japanese show humility by lowering the people in their "in group" (and thus, raise the level of others they're trying to be polite to). It's similar to the when, if you give a Japanese woman a compliment about how pretty she is, she will often deny it, sometimes vehemently.

As is customary at Japanese weddings, the friends of the bride and groom were assigned various performances to do in front of everyone. The best one was put on by several friends of the groom in which they wrote words like laziness, poverty, short temper and unfaithfulness on pieces of wood. The groom had to punch through each board, defeating the demons that would keep him from making Harumi happy and proving his love for her in front of everyone. Another wedding custom is to choose music for the wedding reception, usually something that's very trendy in Japan at that time. Disney music like the themes from Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast are usually chosen by couples in Disney-loving Japan, but Harumi's new husband was a Star Wars fan, so he went with the love theme from Attack of the Clones for the main theme of the wedding. It was very nice.

Those who've been with J-List for a while know that something very busy happens to us every September: we post hundreds of anime, JPOP, idol, nude and other calendars for preorder to our website. Well, calendar season has arrived this year with a vengeance, and we've worked hard to post all the dynamite Japanese calendars to J-List for you!

In case you haven't seen the beautiful and glossy calendars that are popular in Japan, think of the high-quality, shiny pages in a good Japanese photobook -- but reproduced in large-size for your wall. Most calendars are "B2" size, which is 28 x 20 inches, quite large (anime calendars tend to be smaller and cheaper, see the size table for more information). Most calendars have seven pages, meaning you have a poster-size cover page and six calendar pages with two months on each page. You can display the front page of the calendar on your wall while you wait for the new year to begin.

Unfortunately, the window for us to order these calendars is very narrow, and we can only guarantee availability of these calendars through mid-October. To ensure that your calendar comes in without delay, we ask that you preorder as soon as possible. Orders made after the middle of October might not be available, as our Japanese distributors begin to run out of stock of popular calendars very quickly.

Shipping (SAL) on calendars is $5-6 per calendar, plus $3 for a tube (we ship them from the U.S. specifically to protect your calendars). Up to two calendars can be sent in one tube (they will be opened and carefully rolled). Order four or more calendars and get free tubes. Payment with a credit card is preferred, since we can hold the order without charging anything until the calendars actually come in. In some cases, we may ask for pre-payment if you order certain calendars.

Japan's calendars are a really special way to spend your year, with beautiful, glossy printing and great characters and photography. We've got 250+ calendars for you to choose from, everything from lovely JPOP and idols to rare anime calendars to swimsuit idols and actresses and more. Because J-List is dedicated to bringing you Japan's unique pop culture in all its beautiful forms, we go all-out to make sure not just the top few calendars are available, but virtually all of them, with the best selection you will find anywhere. Enjoy a unique year with your favorite Japanese singers, actresses, AV stars, and other characters -- you'll love it! Also, they make excellent Christmas gifts!

Important note! Although the Japanese calendars are beautifully printed and very large, the only pictures we currently have on hand are tiny thumbnails which we scan from at a very high resolution. This usually makes it very difficult for you to decide which calendars you want to get. This year, for the first time, we're adding unrelated pictures of the anime or models in the calendar, so that you can see examples of the calendar pages that will be representative of the actual calendar. Please note that the rightmost picture in calendars which have two pictures, and in some cases both pictures, doesn't reflect the actual pages in this year's calendar (but they should be representative based on our experience with these high-quality calendars).