Friday, December 13, 2002

Greetings from J-List December 13, 2002

Hello from Japan, where natto (fermented soybeans) mixed with hot mustard and soy sauce is a popular breakfast.

I'm feeling extra-refreshed today, because I took an evening off of work to enjoy a traditional hot springs hotel with some gaijin friends from overseas. The Japanese really take bathing seriously, and have a very highly developed idea of what a good bath is. The best baths are natural hot springs, called onsen in Japanese, and happily, there are many famous hot springs in our prefecture. There are many different kinds of hot springs, some in small establishments where there's only one bath, and some larger hotels which have a dozen different baths or more, including beautifully designed outdoor baths -- it's always fun to try them all. There are also some "fake" hot springs which use boilers to heat the water, but they're convenient to go to, and there are several near my house. In Japanese hot springs and public baths, you always bathe in large baths used by everyone, with just a small towel to cover your nether regions. Before you get into a bath, you wash yourself thoroughly and then enjoy the bath. Although Japan is famous for men and women bathing together, mixed baths are almost impossible to find in Japan -- I've only found one in all my years in Japan, and believe me, I've looked.

A trip to an onsen hotel in Japan is an interesting experience, no matter which hotel you go to. First, you arrive at your room, usually a Japanese-style tatami room, where you drink tea and marvel at how beautiful and "Japanese" your room looks. You can then go check out the baths if you like, walking while wearing your yukata, a cotton kimono that's very comfortable (although they don't always fit foreigners that well). For dinner, the food is usually very Japanese, with lots of fish and beautifully-arranged vegetables, and always a few things that you can't identify. After dinner, it's back to the baths for more bathing. If you want, you can find karaoke, video games (always very out of date), and ping pong in a "night corner" somewhere in the hotel -- it's some unwritten onsen rule that all these things must be available to complete the customer's onsen experience. You can also eat some ramen or HagenDaaz ice cream, too, then head back to your room to sleep on Japanese futons. If you want to learn more about Japanese hot springs, we humbly recommend Tokimeki Check in!, a great Japanese interactive love-sim game in which you're the owner of a Japanese hot springs inn.

J-List makes very unique T-shirts with funny message on them in Japanese. Now we've got a new discount offer to say thanks for making them such a success. Order 3 or more T-shirts and get 10% off! The discount will be applied at checkout automatically.

Our 2003 calendars continue to fly out the door, and every day a few more sell out completely. To help you help us move our huge stock of JPOP, sexy idol, anime, traaditional Japanese and other calendars, we've lowered prices again. Please browse our stock and see what you'd like to have on your wall next year -- order two or more calendars and your shipping tubes are free!

For the weekend update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:

  • First, we've got many nice toy items in stock for you, starting
    with a super-soft plush Totoro that features suction cups so you can stick
    him to the inside of your car -- it's great
  • Also, from Takara, a super-popular happy character toy called
    Hidamari no Tami, which moves his head from side to side and makes you feel
    happy, and runs on solar power!
  • For Godzilla fans, two dynamite toys from the new Godzilla vs.
    Mecha Godzilla movie, playing in Japan right now
  • From Furuta, a super series of Tokyo Mew Mew cute figures, very
    cute
  • Domo-kun, the spokesmonster for Japan's national TV
    broadcasting station NHK, is back, with two different Domo-kun coffee cups
    that are really unique and special
  • For fans of lovely Race Queens from Japan, a super "Best of
    Race Queen 2002" photobook for you
  • We have some great Hello Kitty items, including a maze and
    activity book, a Kitty diary with lock, and a super-cute memo pad with
    stickers
  • We love Japanese snacks, and have some great new ones for you,
    including chocolate covered gummi fruits (delicious!), Mini Moni bubble
    gum, and more
  • Also, look for many restocked miso soup and other delicious
    items
  • For trading card collectors, we've got the super cool Patlabor
    the Movie 3 trading cards, very nice
  • Look for a major update of bento related items, including some
    of our most popular bento boxes and sets, as well as chopsticks, onigiri
    makers and more
  • Finally, look for great items for your kitchen including
    Japanese tupperware containers, a cute memo holder, tasty lip balm in fruit
    flavors, and more!

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

  • First of all, we're happy to announce a great new bishoujo
    game, Tottemo Pherome, the latest game from our friends at G-Collections,
    with great uncensored graphics and full Japanese voice! It ships after Dec.
    18 but we're posting it now to give fans a chance to preorder it and get
    free shipping
  • For fans of Japanese magazines, we've got the excellent
    large-format Gokuh, featuring dozens of top-quality Japanese AV idols and
    many great photographs
  • Also, more popular hardcore magazines from Japan, including the
    new issue of "I'm sure I love married women after all"
  • Japan's hardcover photobooks, with beautiful glossy printing,
    are famous all over the world, and we've added some great new ones,
    including Momoka Hayakawa's "Natural Water" and the sultry Yumi Kitagawa's
    "Purple Haze"
  • For hentai manga lovers, we've got some nice new items for you,
    including AV Comics Juice of Girl and a 2-manga set from Wani Comics
  • For DVD lovers, we've got some excellent new items for you,
    starting off with a "Best Hit Selection in the Momo Aida" -- 4 hours of the
    best performances of Momo Aida, a major AV star from the 1990s and a
    favorite of mine (region free)
  • Then enjoy 3 hours of superb lesbian hardcore in "Addicted to
    Lesbian" (region free)
  • Enjoy the magical sex of six lovely AV stars in Little Indecent
    Girl "MEGU" (region free)
  • There's another excellent first lesbian kiss DVD featuring the
    first nude lesbian kiss of beautiful women, from SOD (region free)
  • See beautiful girls fight it out in a new Cat Fight release,
    great for fans of authentic female pro wrestling as only Japan can do it
    (region free)
  • Enjoy the beautiful AV star named "Kay" who stars in a superb
    mix of bukkake themed productions from Waap -- enjoy them all on one DVD
    (region 2)
  • Finally find new DVDs in stock, including the Megumi Osawa
    Special, fresh stock of The Lingerie, more stock of Semen Real Fight, Vs.
    Black Fuck and Semen and even Mizuho Kano's great hardcore!

Remember that J-List carries many interesting and delicious kinds of Japanese chewing gum, including major varieties from Lotte. The most popular is by far Black Black, the spicy caffeine gum that's never failed to amaze us with the speed with which it sells out every week. Other popular gum we sell include Lotte's Blue Berry, No Time (gum that brushes your teeth for you when you're too busy), Juicy Melon (the newest flavor) and more. And in each pack, there are "lucky" sticks that have "Yes! Chewing!" printed on them. Order 10 or more packs of one flavor of gum to get 15% off.


Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Greetings from J-List December 11, 2002

Hello from your friendly neighborhood gaijin in Japan!

First of all, congratulations to Yasu and his wife on the birth of their first child! Little Miu-chan was born on Sunday and is a very healthy and happy little girl (3302 grams, 52 cm long). Miu-chan is a "San Francsico Baby" -- conceived while Yasu and his wife went on their honeymoon to that beautiful city. Here's a picture if you want to see the happy father and daughter: http://www.jlist.com/c3/miu.jpg

One thing that's often a shock to outgoing, cheerful Westerners is the Japanese tendency of modesty. Try praising a Japanese person by telling them how good their English is, and they'll disagree with you, telling you "No, my English isn't good at all." If you compliment most American women on how pretty they look, they'll probably reply with a warm "thank you." Taking note of how pretty a Japanese women looks can be a confusing experience, though, as they shake their head and firmly disagree with you. In Japanese society, the concept of "kenson" (translated as humility or modesty) is an important quality for people to have in a land that's got so many people per square kilometer (325 in Japan, vs. just 26 in the USA). There are many stereotypes and silly notions about Japanese modesty, many which were inserted into American popular culture by novelists like James Clavell, but basically, the concept of "kenson" just means that people not be boastful but instead try to play down their own skills or abilities in a polite way. There are many phrases in Japanese that illustrate this tendency to show humility in front of others. For example, when you give someone a gift, you usually say "Here's something that's not interesting" (tsumaranai mono desu kedo...) or if you bake someone a cake, you say, "I'm not sure if it tastes good or not..." (Oishii ka dou ka wakaranai kedo).

In Japan, it's year-end gift giving season again. Companies give gifts to each other to show feelings of thanks for services rendered in the past, and to say "yoroshiku onegai shimasu" (a very hard phrase to translate -- it sort of means "please continue to be of service to me in the future") for the coming half year. The two gift-giving periods (called Chugen in the summer, and Oseibo in the winter) is a big part of the Japanese economy, and companies compete to make the most interesting gifts available. This year J-List sent sake from our prefecture and Starbucks coffee to the various distributors and other companies we do business with.

I get a lot of questions from people who want to teach ESL (that's English as a Second Language in teacher-speak) in Japan. While there are tens of thousands of people teaching English in Japan at a variety of schools, the long Japanese recession has done a lot of damage to the "eikaiwa" (English conversation) industry, bringing salaries and general teaching conditions down. Teaching English is still a great way to get to see and live in Japan, and it's also a super way to meet some very nice Japanese people who are interested in learning English -- but anyone interested in teaching in Japan (or in other countries in Asia) should know that teaching ESL isn't the stuff that satisfying careers are made of, for many people. Anyone who wants to give it a try, either on the JET program, or at one of the three major English conversation school chains, or at smaller private schools, would need a bachelors degree from a four-year college (any subject will do, no one cares what you majored in here), an open mind about things like squid pizza (you think I'm joking, don't you?), and the desire to do right by your Japanese hosts -- e.g., learn a little humility (see above). You can see my (slightly dated) article on teaching ESL in Japan at http://www.peterpayne.net

We're making some improvements to the J-List site for you. When you purchase 10 or more of items like Pocky, Pretz, Japanese chewing gum, and so on, you can get 15% off your purchase. In the past, the discount did not show in the J-List shopping cart automatically, but now it does. So for our 25% off on "The Dog" sale this month, all you need to do is add 3 or more "The Dog" items to your cart and the discount will be calculated automatically when you check out. As always, please report any problems you experience with the site, in case we got something wrong -- thanks!

For the new update, we've got a lot of great items from Japan, including:

  • First, we love the hit show Tokyo Mew Mew, which we think is
    set to out-Sailor Moon Sailor Moon in the world of transforming cute girl
    shows, even if one of the girls is named Mew Lettuce -- we've got some nice
    toys from this show in stock
  • For fans of our delicious Japanese snacks, we've got some great
    new items for you, including animal calcium cookies, a new flavor of the
    runaway success Gravel Choco (chocolate that looks like little rocks), and
    limited edition "air-in" chocolate (that is, whipped, fluffy chocolate)
  • Also, a very cool item: famous Japanese icons like daruma,
    inviting cat and the famous Japanese raccoon, which come with delicious
    chocolate-filled cookies
  • For those who'd like to try furikake, a word for any food that
    is sprinkled over white rice, we've got some nice items including kimchee
    flavored furikake and more
  • We've restocked several Totoro and related items, including
    several Totoro music boxes, the Totoro Doll Collection, and the very
    popular Totoro Magnet Set
  • Also, we've added stock of the very cool Snoopy Music Box from
    Sun Arrow, which is a great item and only licensed for sale in the Japanese
    market (except through us, wink wink)
  • For Hello Kitty fans, enjoy a super fun Kitty Drawing Board,
    similar to Etch-a-Sketch, as well as other fun only-sold-in-Japan items,
    restocked for you (including the popular Kitty business card holders)
  • We love the great English-dubbed and -subbed releases from
    Studio Ghibli, and we've got fresh stock of one of my all-time favorite
    Hayao Miyazaki films, Lupin III, the Castle of Caliostro, a *great* anime
    film (region 2)
  • We've got a fantastic set of super deformed Kubrick-style
    figures, MyClone, which parody Micronauts, Kamen Rider, and much more --
    and we've got full sets available
  • Look for more cool chopsticks from Japan, in both adult length
    and small sizes for kids
  • For fans of Japanese idols, we've restocked Yuka's charming
    swimsuit DVD (region all)
  • In Japan, virtually everyone sends New Year's cards, and we've
    got some spiffy stamps for making your own
  • Finally, find a super way to keep doors from closing, a nifty
    all-purpose bag from Japan, more ways to enjoy a real Japanese hot springs,
    and more!

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

  • For fans of excellent adult magazines from Japan, we've got new
    issues of E-Cup and I'm Gonna Ask You Out, featuring many lovely hardcore
    Japanese gals (including Hitomi Hayasaka)
  • Enjoy superb busty women from Japan with Super Natural Peach
    Breast Girls, a double-thick issue of Gal's Dee
  • We've got great photobook items for you, including Ai Kurosawa
    as your virtual live-in girlfriend, as well as a super-sexy photobook
    featuring Mayuka Suzuki (love those rabbit ears)
  • Also for fans of Japan's dynamite leg and stocking fetish
    photobooks, fresh stock of the superb "Tail to Nose"
  • We've got a nice issue of DVD Baveux, featuring a DVD with 2
    hours of great sampler content and more (region 2)
  • For hentai manga fans, enjoy many nice new volumes posted to
    the site, including an erotic "Happy Present" from Plaza Comics, a new
    Electric Fighting Daughters
  • We've got some excellent new DVDs in stock for you, starting
    with a new No Cut!! featuring three full hours of Sai Mari's lovely and
    very erotic hardcore performance (region free)
  • Cocolo is a fabulously beautiful professional AV actress from
    Japan, with a fantastic body and stylish sex -- see her new 2-DVD release
    from HMP (region free)
  • For fans of bukkake, a fabulous new "Idol Semen" release from
    the beautiful Chiharu Moritaka and Soft on Demand, not to be missed (region
    free)
  • Yuna Akimoto is a fabulous lesbian nurse in a new installment
    of Lesbian Hospital, from Deep's (region free)
  • Mariya Mai is an amazing new girl with a very small body and a
    cute face, and you can see her great performance in a new Dogma release
    (region free)
  • We have a new Waap Dream Shower DVD, featuring Juri Takahara's
    extremely erotic bukkake action (region 2)
  • Finally we have a bunch of newly restocked items, including
    Megumi Osawa's erotic Stars!! DVD offering, Nao Oikawa's very nice "Feel
    the Breasts" and cosplay DVDs, fresh stock of Ichigo Milk's most popular
    DVD works and more!

You can shop for unique products from Japan with many ways to pay for your orders. First, we accept credit cards (Visa/MC/Amex/Discover) through a secure server, which is the most popular method with our customers. Paypal is another very convenient way to pay for orders -- you sign up with the company and can make purchases using a credit card or checking account tied to your Paypal email address. Check or money orders are also cheerfully accepted, and cash is okay too, as long as you take precautions with it. For many international purchasers, we've found that postal money orders, which you can buy in US$ from any post office, are often the most trouble-free (and inexpensive) way to send money overseas. Finally, if you need it, Western Union is also an option. Let us know how we can serve you!

The J-Mate site has been updated yet again, with a new interview with the lovely Asai Honoka, conducted by another female (so it's real "girl talk"). You can also see reviews of many items we just happen to sell at J-List. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Monday, December 09, 2002

Greetings from J-List December 9, 2002

Greetings from Japan, where a turn signal on a car is known as a "winker."

We woke up to a special treat this morning: about 10 cm of white, fluffy snow. The Tokyo area (our prefecture, about 100 km from the city, considers itself part of the "Tokyo area" even though Tokyoites don't always agree) gets snow only a few times a year, and it rarely piles up enough to be trouble for anyone. Today, though, the unexpected snow caused many problems, with traffic backed up everywhere and even several train lines stopped, including the Narita Express, which goes to the airport. Being from San Diego, I love snow and winter, although it does get a little tiring after a few days.

I've mentioned before how Japanese have a way of all being on the same wavelength on various issues. The Japanese seem to have a built-in sense of common sense, known as "joshiki" in Japanese -- that is, they all tend to share opinions about how life should be lived. Kids should go to school and learn and receive an education that makes them feel that they're a part of the larger society, and so, there is no homeschooling in Japan. For a family to be happy, the husband should be the "daikoku bashira" (literally, "big black pillar") that supports the house, and so, the number of women who desire high-paying careers is much lower here than in the West. You always need money on hand for a rainy day, so most Japanese households save at least 10% of their income per year -- and the average household has US$100,000 in cash, if you can believe it, usually in cash accounts that pay almost no interest. (I'm not saying these opinions are necessarily right for everyone, just passing opinions held by most Japanese that I know.)

Still, there are about 1-2% of Japanese who fall outside of the larger group. Most Japanese don't think too deeply on the subject of religion, and regularly mix religious themes in their lives, christening a baby with a Shinto ceremony, getting married in a Christian church and burying loved one with solemn Buddhist ritual. (If you want to have some fun with a Japanese, ask him to explain the differences between Shinto and Buddhism.) But some resist this blending of religion. I had a student whose family was Shinto, that is, believing in the original animalistic religion of Japan as opposed to Buddhism or Christianity, and her family always turned to Shinto, even for events normally reserved for Buddhist Temples in Japan such as funerals. Another students husband was Christian, and forbade his wife from going to Shinto shrines to pray for good luck in the new year, done more as a fun thing to do and not as a religious ceremony on New Year's Day.

We're happy to report that we believe we've fixed the "cartfile not found" bug that was plaguing some users. It seems they were accessing the site through j-list.com rather than jlist.com, and the domain name change was causing a problem with the certificate that allows secure checkout. Sorry if you had any problems -- it should be working fine now!

For the new update, we've got a huge volley of new items from Japan for you, including:

  • First, for Hamtaro fans, we've got some great items, including a super-deluxe plush backpack (note: stock is limited, but more are on order) and delicious boil-in-bag Hamtaro curry!
  • We have a very special item for Godzilla lovers, various sets of the rare Godzilla Meikan series from Bandai
  • We love Hello Kitty, and have many products only available from Japan in stock -- look for new items, including Kitty sunglasses for kids, a Kitty magnet and a fun Kitty musical instrument (a clapper)
  • Also very cool, a special Hello Kitty "foamy friends" bath sponge for your bath
  • For fans of Japanese snack and food items, we've got more fun things, including new miso soup and fried rice mix, delicious vitamin C "throat candy," chocolate only available in the winter, squid flavored crackers that taste much better than they sound, fresh stock of Gravel Choco, and more
  • J-List also carries many varieties of Japanese gum, and we've got a great new flavor, Juicy Melon, for the real taste of honeydew melon in your mouth!
  • Enjoy meals in traditional Japanese style, with a great tray, bowl and spoon set that make eating Japanese food fun!
  • Enjoy a Japanese style hot springs with Bub, a fun cube that dissolves in your bath like Alka-Seltzer
  • We carry dozens of bento related items for people who want to try some of Japan's boxed-lunch culture -- we've got a nice new double-decker bento box in stock, too
  • We've got some nice and rare items for fans of One Piece, the popular manga and anime -- enjoy a set of trading cards and super0fun "pirate gummi" candy
  • For fans of the spiffy Japanese toy cars from Tomy, we've got new additions for you
  • Finally, find a super cute plush friend named Zukin-chan, cute traditional Japanese items, a nice Japanese lip balm that contains aloe, cute Hamster items, authentic chopsticks from Japan, and more!

Remember that you can get free shipping off of any Peach Princess game all this month -- a great chance to pick up some of the best English-language love-sim games. Also, we're having 25% off all "The Dog" items by entering THEDOGSALE in the coupon field at checkout -- they're incredibly cute, and very special since they only come from Japan!

I've updated my personal homepage at http://www.peterpayne.net with J-List updates from the last three months. If you want to browse my collected articles and views on life in Japan, including advice on how to teach in English in Japan and more, check it out.

And from the "worth a look" department, here's an interesting parody item, that we're not sure what to make of: http://www.blackpeopleloveus.com (but don't take it too seriously)