Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Greetings from J-List December 4, 2002

Hello and TGIF from Japan, where the Adam's Apple (the little bulb in your throat) is known as "nodo-chinko" which translates as "throat penis."

When learning Japanese, it's always fun to learn the "gitaigo," a group of words similar to onomatopoeia, very descriptive words that describe the state of objects. Because they consist of repetitions of words, they are very cute and fun to use. If you're really hungry, the Japanese would say that you're "peko peko," a word which describes the way you feel when your stomach is very empty. Alternately, "kara kara" describes your throat when you're thirsty. If you get soaking wet in the rain, you're "bisho bisho," and if you get indigestion, your stomach is "muka muka." If your skin is especially smooth and clean, someone might say it's "sube sube" (a word which comes from suberu "to glide"). And if you're a little on the plump side, you might be described as "puyo puyo," a word which sounds cute to the Japanese. In Chinese, nouns are written in plural by repeating the same character twice, and this has spilled over into some everyday Japanese words, such as "betsu betsu" (the character for "to separate" repeated, meaning separate or different), or a word you hear in anime a lot, "ware ware" (the character for "I" repeated, expressing the word "we").

I remember first coming to Japan back in 1991, totally dazed at everything around me as I struggled to find my "gaijin legs." I met many people who helped me out and showed me the ropes on living in Japan, including a famous American man who is kind of the "First Foreigner" in Gunma Prefecture, a man who came to live in Japan during the Vietnam era as a conscientious objector and has stayed here ever since. When I met him he'd lived in Japan for sixteen years or so, and at the time I was amazed that anyone could live away from his home country for so long -- of course, now I've been in Japan for eleven years myself. He's quite a local personality, and has written regular articles in the newspaper and also had a local radio talk show, mainly because he'd been here so long. A key element to understanding the Japanese psyche is that they always want to be well thought of by Westerners, and having foreigners fall in love with Japan so much that they live here all their lives makes them feel happy and proud.

You've been in Japan too long when you get a 'nihongo ga jozu' and feel really insulted. It's an odd fact of life in Japan, but foreigners who are learning Japanese strive for that magic moment when Japanese will stop complimenting them on how good their Japanese is. Being told "Your Japanese is very good" ("nihongo ga jozu") is a sign that your Japanese is good, but not quite "good enough" for the person you're talking to just shut up and talk to you as if you were a native. After studying Japanese for four years at San Diego State University and living in Japan for eleven years, I am hopefully as fluent as I will ever need to be, although there are still occasional difficulties. I went to KFC to get our standard chicken dinner for Thanksgiving last week, but for some reason, I couldn't make myself understood by the girl taking my order. It turned out that she was a foreigner herself, a university student from China, and hadn't understood my American Japanese accent.

Our region-free DVD players have proven very popular items, and hundreds of customers have purchased the units, which play DVDs from all countries (include the hard-to-play RCE discs), support both NTSC and PAL, play MP3, VCDs, and are very inexpensive, too. Our DVD players are so popular, in fact, that'd we'd been sold out of both the Sampo units for several weeks. We've finally got more stock of the popular DVE-612 player in for you, and our new price is just $98! These units are stocked in our San Diego office, and we ship daily, so why not order one of these great DVD players now? (Unfortunately, the 681P has been discontinued by the manufacturer.)

For the weekend update, we've got an extra-special collection of items for you, including:

  • First, we've got great new toy and other items that are very suitable for Christmas, including some deluxe Hamtaro toy items that are really fun to play with
  • We've got some cool Totoro and Sun Arrow items in stock, just in time for Christmas, including Totoro backpacks, new stock of popular Ghibli music boxes, and more
  • Also, fresh stock of the super-cool Princess Mononoke large sized soft vinyl figures, featuring Ashitaka atop Yakuru, arrow in hand
  • J-List carries authentic Japanese loose socks, and we've gotten in more stock of our extra-long, extra-baggy 120 cm socks for you
  • For fans of top-notch Japanese Race Queen, JPOP idols and more, enjoy the new NoWon, just filled to the brim with lovely Japanese idols
  • In Japan, anime statues using the "cold cast" resin manufacturing technique are popular, and they are really beautiful -- we've got some killer Sailor Moon statues in stock for you now
  • We have some dynamite snack and food items for you, including delicious banana chocolate, wasabi rice crackers that are just great, and new furikake and miso soup items in stock
  • Also, for fans of Kamen Rider (Masked Rider), enjoy tasty Kamen Rider gummi treats
  • J-List carries the Bandai Hot Wheels, a great only-availale-from-Japan item, and we've got some new items in stock for you to check out
  • Sanrio stuff is always fun, and we carry lots of items you can't find outside of Japan, including new Bad Batz-Maru and Kitty bags, a fun Kitty ice cream toy, Shinkansen toothbrushes for little ones, and several other items
  • We love cute things from Japan, and we've got some new items, cute cork message boards with animals characters
  • Astro Boy is a cornerstone of Japanese animation, and we've got fresh stock of the popular Collectors Figure World toys
  • For fans of the undying My Neighbor Totoro, we've got the 2-DVD release featuring full English soundtrack and subtitles (region 2)
  • We're regularly amazed at how popular our Japanese bento boxes are, but they keep selling out, no matter how many we buy -- look for fresh stock of several bento boxes and sets, chopsticks, sushi makers, and more
  • Finally, look for cute Japanese pouches for carrying things (complete with funny English on them), traditional Japanese items for your kitchen, a spiffy way to remove oil from your face, and more!

The J-Mate site has been updated again, with a review of the excellent Back Mirukuru starring Mai Hagiwara, featuring many screenshots. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Looking for a great and unique gift from Japan? We suggest The Dog, the super-cute plush dog that's taken Japan by storm. We're giving 25% off all The Dog items this month only, so check out the excellent items we've got for you! Order three or more The Dog items and enter THEDOGSALE in the coupon field at checkout. Order by EMS if you want to get the soft pets by Christmas.

Another great gift for friends or family are our unique funny Japanese T-shirts, with all kinds of wacky messages in Japanese. Our shirts are all 100% cotton, printed in the U.S. and are full American sizes -- no worries about calculating Japanese T-shirt sizes. We ship daily and can get your order out to you very quickly. Let us know how J-List can serve you!

Monday, December 02, 2002

Greetings from J-List December 2, 2002

Hello again from your friends in Japan at J-List!

The Japanese are very big on their four seasons, and have many customs that separate each season from the others. In the spring, people sit under cherry blossom trees and enjoy the fleeting beauty of the season of the sakura. In summer, it's time to don a yukata (cotton summer kimono) and enjoy Japan's festivals. In autumn, have a family barbecue in the mountains while enjoying the blazing colors of the turning leaves around you. In the winter, one of my personal favorite customs is sampling the new "nikuman" at convenience stores in Japan (pronounced "niku-mahn"). Nikuman is a kind of steamed Chinese bun with meat inside, and it's one of the most delicious foods you can eat when visiting Yokohama's famous Chinatown. The ones sold in convenience stores aren't quite as good, but they're hot and tasty nevertheless, and cheap at just 88 yen. Variations on the basic "beef and bread" nikuman dumplings include pizzaman (tomato sauce and cheese), anman (Japanese anko sweet beans), and curryman (curry-filled bread). The best nikuman can be found at convenience stores that carry Yamazaki baked goods, like Sun Every and Yamazaki Daily Store.

Some Japanese gestures are really cute. One famous gesture the Japanese make when having their picture taken is "peace" (also known as the V for Victory sign), which seems to be a national pasttime here. Unfortunately, none of the J-List staff has any idea why virtually all females, and many males, make this gesture -- it's just a cute Japanese thing, we guess. When Japanese get their picture taken, then say "cheese" just like in English. An alternate version is to say "what's one plus one?" (the answer in Japanese is "ni" and will result in a smile, the same as "cheese.")

It's always hard to be an expat and live in another country. No matter how long I live in Japan, I still feel that things from home are just plain "better." American medicine works the best for me, and there's nothing like American Cream of Wheat for breakfast on cold mornings -- I've turned my kids on to it, although my wife sticks her nose up at the stuff, since it looks like "okayu," a watery rice dish Japanese give to sick people. While there are many familiar things to an American living in Japan (McDonald's, Starbucks, Time Magazine), I don't think I could get by without the Internet to give me all the American culture I need. Amazon.com especially is a Godsend for someone like me -- a far cry from eleven years ago, when we had to scour the town to find a store that had some imported Pringles or Doritos, or travel to Tokyo to one of two bookstores that carried English books.

We seem to be experiencing some problems with our shopping cart system, a few users have had trouble checking out. If you find any problems with the J-List site, please email us about it right away, and remember that you can always use the secure email form (see link in the upper left hand corner of our site) to send order information in an emergency.

Announcing our first The Dog sale! For the month of December, you can get 25% off all our cute The Dog plush pets and other products by entering THEDOGSALE in the coupon field at checkout. The Dog plush pets, which feature big heads and super-cute "strange ratio" dimensions, are really great, and uniquely Japanese. And they make great gifts, too.

Also, for the month of December, we're happy to announce we'll give free shipping (for U.S./Canada -- international customers get half price on shipping) on all Peach Princess games! If you haven't completed your collection of excellent English-language love-sim games, now is a great time. As always, if you'd like more information on Japan's unique dating sim games, or a recommendation from our staff, just email us!

In order to help you help us reduce our stock of 2003 calendars, we've gone through and lowered prices on another two dozen of the items. We've still got a huge number of really excellent and unique calendars, including many that you'll treasure all year long, so please browse what we've got for you before the calendars you want are taken.

For the new update, we've got a great selection of new products from Japan for you, including:

  • First of all, we've got some great and wacky things in time for Christmas, including a cute "Christmas Reindeer" figure and soft reindeer antlers, great for your Christmas party o Also very cool, enjoy a new plush Haro toy for Gundam fans, and some extremely rare Yujin capsule toys o Also for Gundam lovers, fresh stock of the large-size deluxe Haro, a working alarm clock based on the famous Gundam robot that's just great o We love cute Japanese containers, things to put other things in, and we've got some nice items, including a Japanese bag with funny French on it, a soft portable phone case, and more o For lovers of top-notch Japanese Race Queens, enjoy the new Best of Race Queen photobook that we have o Enjoy elegant and beautiful photobooks by Japanese models like Noriko Sagara, very beautiful to look at and enjoy o For Morning Musume fans, we've been able to get limited stock of the Pocky and Pretz for Mo-Musu fans, which comes with a cute dual-faced mirror o Also for snack fans, find new ochazuke and furikake (delicious foods to put on rice), miso soup, new flavors of ramune candy, delicious "Gravel Choco" (chocolate that looks like rocks), and more o For fans of rare Hello Kitty items, we've got a cool stackable "juubako" bento box, as well as fresh stock of many items, including Hello Kitty cake mix, the best-selling Hello Kitty shoulder massagers o We love Hamtaro at J-List, and have some nice items for you, including a new Hamtaro figure-and-toy set, Hamtaro Hiragana Carta (a Japanese game in which you can learn hiragana), and more o Also for hamster fans, we've got some cute "ramen and chopstick erasers" o Finally, we've got new Japanese funny signs, a traditional way to clean your ears, Japanese style, new bento and chopstick items including the popular Hamster Bento Set, and more!

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

Remember that J-List carries that great symbol of Japanese wacky pop culture, the Hello Kitty Vibrating Shoulder Massager, which is of course intended as massager for your neck and shoulders, although some would call it a Hello Kitty vibrator. A licensed Sanrio item sold only in Japan, the unit features high and low massage modes, and a beautiful image of Kitty and her rabbit friend. It looks just great, in or out of case -- display it as the objet d'art de culture populaire that it is. Why not get a few, and give them out as gifts? We can get them to you in time for Christmas with time to spare via airmail or EMS.