Friday, February 07, 2003

Greetings from J-List February 7, 2003

Hello again from all of us in Japan!

The word for foreigner in Japanese is "gaijin," written using the characters for "outside" and "person." While it simply refers to foreigners, the word is kind of harsh and can sound derogatory, which is why the new official word for foreigners (the term used on NHK, Japan's equivalent to the BBC) is "gaikokujin" or "outside country person," a word that sounds much softer to the ear. One thing about foreigners living in Japan: while they usually don't appreciate Japanese calling out to them by saying "Hey, gaijin!" they're more than likely to use the term amongst themselves openly, without a second thought. In this respect it's very similar to the African American usage of the "N" word.

One aspect of Japan that is really fun to get into is bento, that is, the traditional Japanese boxed lunch. Japan's version of a classical boxed lunch is white rice with a main dish (called "okazu," a word for anything which is eaten with rice), usually chicken, fish, or vegetables. If you've ever traveled in Japan by train, maybe you've seen the unique pre-made boxed lunches you can buy in train stations, called "ekiben" or "train station bento." Each city makes its own unique variety of ekiben, competing with each other to make the most famous bento that tells a story about that part of the country. We've got a really cool miniature set of authentic train station bentos in stock today -- they really are excellent. J-List also sells many different bento related items, from chopsticks to bento boxes to full sets containing everything you need to have a Japanese boxed lunch.

You've been in Japan too long when, on a visit home, it takes you three tries to write a check. It's funny but true. Japan is a very cash-based society, and there are no such things as using personal checks to pay for goods. On payday, employees in Japan get a fat envelope of 10,000 yen notes as their monthly salary, and no one thinks twice about it, although getting a huge amount of cash from your boss in the U.S. would be odd. As a result of this lack of personal checks, foreigners who live in Japan for a long time completely forget how to write a check and have to re-learn it every time they go home. When you need to pay for something in Japan, you usually do a direct transfer to their bank account, called furikomi in Japanese. It's inconvenient and the bank fees are high, but there's never a problem with the money being sent. Recently, American style credit card use has been on the rise, helped along by the spread of Internet commerce.

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

  • First, for fans of Totoro toys, we've got some great new plush items by Sun Arrow, Hayao Miyazaki's official licensor
  • Also, a major restocking of popular Totoro and Ghibli goods, including the Jiji Pencil Case, the large plush Totoro (a really nice item!), the Totoro Tissue Holder, and more -- check all these cool items!
  • For fans of bleeding-edge anime, enjoy She, The Ultimate Weapon, a superb anime series being released on DVD in Japan, with full English subtitles (region 2)
  • For fans of the popular Ghost in the Shell anime series, we've gotten in more stock of the dynamite vol. 1 disc (that comes with a box for the other discs)
  • Also, since we love Shirow Masamune's works, and have some rare stock of figures from that classic anime and movie
  • For fans of Japanese snacks, look for many new items, including Glico's "Mousse Hazelnut" treat, cute Gummi Baby treat, and a melon-flavored Hello Kitty cake that you can bake!
  • Also, some delicious "marugoto ika" (a dried squid on a stick), recommend for the brave
  • Bento is part of the fabric of Japanese life, and "ekiben" (train station bento) is one of the most famous kinds -- see a set of six authentic eki bento from all around Japan
  • For Hamtaro and bento fans, we've got more cute hamster items, including chopsticks, chopstick cases, fresh stock of the popular traditional bento sets, and more
  • Learn to read hiragana with two different cute toys that reinforce learning of the Japanese writing system
  • For fans of parody goods, we've got a cool keychain featuring Lotte's Black Black -- pull the string to make the gum come out
  • For those who wan to study in Japanese style, we've got more fun items including cute Japanese pencil cases, cool pencils for Morning Musume fans (really cool!) and more
  • Do ride a bicycle in the winter? If so, we have some spiffy bicycle hand warmers for you to try -- they're great!
  • For fans of the incredibly soft and warm blankets sold in Japan, we've got fresh stock of the extremely cool Totoro blankets that have been so popular this year
  • Finally, see cool Hello Kitty tissue, fresh stock of Kitty toilet paper, traditional things for your kitchen, more miso soup and furikake, and more!

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

  • For fans of adult magazines, we've got the great new Penthouse Japan and Penthouse Special, beautiful magazines published in Japan with 100% Japanese models
  • Also, enjoy the sweet and lovely amateur girls of BJam, featuring incredibly stylish Japanese college girls and kogals
  • Japanese nude photographer Aida Garo's Kaoru photobook was one of his most popular ever, and now he's followed it up with a dynamite sequel
  • Also, see other great photobooks in stock for you, including the busty Caprice Lovers Collection featuring the busty Chisa Aizawa
  • We love the erotic works of Yui Toshiki, and we've got fresh stock of Yui Shop (vol 1 ' 3)
  • Also, for fans of G-Taste, the extremely erotic leg fetish art book series, we've got a massive restocking of these books for you
  • For hentai manga collectors, enjoy a bunch of new works in stock for you, including great fetish works by Toen Comics, Tsukasa and more
  • Also, fresh stock of several yaoi titles, for fans of Japan's great homosexual manga themes
  • If you love authentic Japanese doujinshi, we've got even more for you, including some great works parodying all the best Japanese animation series and more
  • Also, fresh stock of super-sexy One Piece and Giant Robo hentai doujinshi
  • For adult DVD aficionados, we've got some top-quality AV from Japan for you, starting with Hitomi Hayasaka Re-Mix 2, with 230 minutes of the sweet sex of Hitomi-chan (region free)
  • Then, enjoy the "24 Best of Charisma Idols" featuring the best performances of 24 lovely adult video stars from Million, including Shino Isshki, Ran Asakawa, Sayaka Hagiwara, and more (region free)
  • Ran Asakawa stars in an extremely erotic performance from SOD's Deep's label, exploring themes of unfaithfulness in marriage (region free)
  • AV director HAJIME is one of the most famous at Soft on Demand today, and you can see his best erotic works in a new DVD from Soft on Demand (region free)
  • The lovely Aimi Yoshii teams with American porn star Monica, performing in an erotic tribute to Beverly Hills 90210 -- great for fans of "black bukkake" (region 2)
  • Finally, fresh stock of some dynamite DVDs, Yuko Ogura's popular DVDs, more of the Deep Kiss lesbian kissing DVDs, and more!

The J-List crew has recently added a few new members, including staff in both our U.S. and Japan offices. If you want to see the new members, see the updated About J-List page (link in the upper left hand corner of the J-List site). We think we look pretty cute ^_^

The J-Mate site has been updated again, this time with a great interview with Maiko Kazano. You can see many different interviews with famous AV stars from Japan, as well as reviews of products that we sell at J-List. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Greetings from J-List February 5, 2003

Hello again from all your friends in Japan!

Happy faces in email are now a part of Internet culture. The Japanese have embraced this form of communication with a vengeance, and have come up with some really cute Japanese faces that are used in email messages here. See an interesting page of Japanese emoticons, along with a link to another page of one-byte face graphics, here: http://club.pep.ne.jp/~hiroette/en/facemarks/body.html#character . I hope you enjoy them! (^_^)/

In the Japanese system of prefectures and cities is quite different from what we're used to in the States. The current Japanese system, which was based on the French prefectural system (or at least that's what the Japanese believe), came about when Japan modernized its infrastructures during the Meiji Restoration. Basically, there are 47 prefectures ("ken"), along with the northernmost island of Hokkaido and the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, which like the District of Columbia in the U.S. is separate from the normal system of prefectures. Inside each prefecture, there are three kinds of incorporated areas: cities ("shi"), towns ("machi" or "cho," two readings for the same kanji character) or villages ("mura"). Inside the large city areas, such as the city we live in, there are small "town" areas designated, so that a person may live in Sakura Town, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Streets are not generally named in Japan, so a physical address will just be a numbered block inside that part of the town. If you think it's terribly confusing to have a whole country with no named streets or numbered houses, you're right! Basically, if you don't have a clear map to wherever it is you're going in Japan, you're probably not going to get there. As populations rise and fall in Japan (usually fall, it's sad to say), sometimes a new city is born, as small municipalities join together to try to make their region more attractive for tourism and industry. Japan's newest city is Minami Alps City, in Nagano Prefecture. Located in the heart of the Japan Alps (the main mountain range running down the middle of the country), this city is newsworthy as the first place name to write its name in the katakana writing system (since the word "alps" is a foreign loan word).

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, delicious Korean spicy pickles), they're just not 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, 12 boxes of Raisin Bran, 24 boxes of granola bars). It's very convenient.

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

  • First, for fans of the incredibly popular Dragonball Z we've got an extremely cool bottlecap-like figure series -- it's really cool
  • For fans of the best-selling Studio Ghibli music boxes, another wonderful Spirited Away music box that features Sen and the Kao-Nashi (No-Face)
  • Also for fans of cool things from Japan, some beautiful "Maneki Neko" (Inviting Cat) coffee cups
  • For Japanese snack lovers, enjoy fun Power Rangers furikake for your rice, delicious ramune and cola "fizzing candy," and great vitamin C hard candy, too
  • In addition, various food and snack items have been restocked, including authentic Japanese teas, delicious kim-chee furikake, and more
  • Also, a delicious new flavor of fun Japanese chewing gum, fresh pear
  • For fans of the cool lighting Star Wars character necklaces that are only sold in Japan, we've gotten in tons of fresh stock, including all the popular ones -- check them out now!
  • For bento fans, various fresh stock of popular bento items including the pink bento boxes with the included water bottle
  • Also, if you've been wanting to buy the cool Japanese beginning driver's mark, which is one of our most popular "wacky" items from Japan, we've restocked them for you
  • For Hot Wheels collectors, fresh stock of popular items that were sold out, as well as a new limited Japan Official Fan Clob collector's car (rare)
  • Also very cool, fresh stock of the popular Ichiro figures that we've had in the past
  • For Yamato/Star Blazers fans, we've got a dynamite item that I personally love -- the die-cast metal Yamato that's fully featured!
  • Finally, look for fresh stock of super-cool Japanese food erasers, handy cotton bags for your bento, a great way to remove hair from your bath, and more!

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

  • For fans of beautiful Japanese girls with huge breasts, enjoy the new Gal's Dee, which is loaded with busty gals like Moe Yamasaki (95 cm, G cup), Mai Uehara (86 cm, F cup) and Anna Ohura herself
  • For fans of Japanese love hotel magazines, that show amateur couples in love hotels, enjoy the new Shuffle
  • If you love Japanese photobooks, enjoy some great new items, including Penthouse Japan's first hardcover photobook and the super-sexy offering of Harumi Nomoto
  • Also, a lovely all-leg and stocking fetish photobook featuring two positively beautiful leggy princesses
  • For fans of extremely beautiful Japanese women, we've got two excellent combination photobook + DVD capturing the loveliness of two models
  • Enjoy excellent erotic hentai manga from some of Japan's top artists, including a super-deluxe large-format manga by Ruu Michian, as well as fresh stock of the famous "A Wonderful Feeling" manga by Azuki Kurenai
  • Also, a dynamite and rare treat for Yu-Gi-Oh fans, we've got an erotic doujinshi Nyu-Gi-Oh (the "nyu" means "breasts"), by the famous doujinshi circle Kenix
  • For DVD lovers, a superb "Japanese sci-fi porn feature" that is extremely beautiful and bold in its imagery and tribute to the movie Blade Runner -- see "I.K.U. ~ This is not LOVE, this is SEX" on our site now (region free)
  • We love the beautiful Ichigo Milk, and have a new offering from Million featuring 120 minutes of her best erotic work (region free)
  • We are fans of Akira Watase because of her extremely sexy style and sass -- see her in another "fucked from below" DVD in which she has sex on a large Plexiglas sheet, with the camera positioned below her (region free)
  • Soft on Demand has brought us many great erotic concepts over the years, and now they've got a great compilation of Love Gun (a vibrator that's a gun) and Holed Panty fetish (very innovative) for you to enjoy (region free)
  • We also loved the extremely busty Moe Yamasaki (95 cm, G cup) performing in her first lesbian experimentation (region free)
  • For fans of Bauhaus's innovative soft porn and sexy idol DVDs, we've got a great item featuring Moe Yoshizawa that will blow you away (region 2)
  • Finally, enjoy fresh stock of DVDs such as Nao Oikawa's Beautiful Breast Idol (a great cosplay experience), more lovely Russian Girls Manko, Yuka Sakurada's Endless Semen and more!

Interested in learning Japanese? Remember that J-List loves Japan and always wants to promote the study of Japanese all over the world. To that end, we carry cool things like study cards (blank cards that make it easy to study vocabulary), and the spiffy Zebra Check Set, a system that helps you memorize anything and test your memory. See the "Notebooks, Study Aids" category inside Wacky Things from Japan for these items. Also, be sure to see Peter's general overview of the Japanese language and his advice for students or would-be students, at http://www.peterpayne.net/

Monday, February 03, 2003

Greetings from J-List February 3, 2003

Hello again from Japan, where "UFO" and "VIP" are pronounced as words, not spelled out (e.g." you-foh" and "vipp").

All Japan was shaken by the terrible tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia. I happened to hear the news right after it broke, jacking into a talk radio station in Atlanta (what would we all do without the Internet?). The Japanese are very proud of their participation in the Shuttle program, and of the three Japanese astronauts, Mamoru Mouri, Koichi Wakata and Chiaki Mukai, who have flown into space. Mukai-san, the Japanese astronaut who flew with John Glenn some years ago, happens to hail from Gunma Prefecture, right down the road from J-List, and we've taken our kids to the Prefectural Space Museum in her hometown that's dedicated to teaching Japanese young people about space. Among the many thousands of people that receive J-List's updates is a friend of ours, NASA's liaison to Japan's space agency NASDA, who would have known all the astronauts who died in the tragedy. Our hearts go to out to everyone involved in the exploration of space in this sad time.

The Japanese do love tests. In addition to their world-famous college entrance exams, the Japanese have standardized tests for just about everything, with levels that are similar to the belt colors in karate and judo. Just about every subject, from abacus to waapro (word processing) to accounting have national tests that students and adults are encouraged to study for and take. The most famous standardized test in Japan is Eiken, also known as the Step Test, a series of tests that Japanese students take over the course of their lives -- level 3 while in junior high school, level 2 while in high school, and level 1 if they really want to try a challenging test after college. There are standardized tests for Japanese brush writing, penmanship, and even a test for calculating rapidly and accurately with a calculator. All sports have their own various standardized tests, including skiing -- my son, who recently started to ski, will be taking his first tests next year. For gaijin like you or me, there's a test for learning Japanese called the Nihongo Noryoku Shiken or the Japanese Ability Test, taken each December at various cities around the world. Level 4 tests basic kana and kanji, levels 3 and 2 are progressively harder, and level 1 is a really difficult test required for all students who want to enter a Japanese university. Japan's test mania may seem odd, but it is a good way to motivate people to study and better themselves.

What color are your eyes? All Japanese people have brown eyes, although if you ever ask them what color their eyes are, they'll tell you "black" (because the center of the eyes are black, as opposed to the iris). Japanese are often interested in the eyes of foreigners, since they come in different colors, something totally unknown in Japan (although they do have color contact lenses here). When I tell Japanese that my eyes change color depending on what I'm wearing, ranging from green to hazel to blue, they usually don't believe it's possible. My wife and I are studying Spanish, and recently I was asked by my teacher, a Japanese who grew up in Peru, if I saw the world through a blue or green tint because of the color of my eyes.

We've had some bad news on the Hello Kitty massager front -- the factory that makes these has stopped production, and we've been told that our current stock is all that will be available. If you're looking for the ultimate Japanese pop culture item, we recommend the Hello Kitty vibrators, which are cool on so many levels. Also, buy 3 or more of these great items and get 15% off!

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

  • First, if you love Macross/Robotech, we've got stock of the very rare blue and red Super Valkyries from Yamato -- fully transforming and perfectly detailed
  • For fans of great Japanese film on DVD, we've got the original Japanese release of The Ring, for fans of the U.S. film who want to see the terrifying original (region 2, Japanese dialogue only)
  • For fans of Japanese Race Queens, see a great photobook featuring the lovely Ran Enoki, as well as fresh stock of the popular Gal's Paradise card series
  • If you love rare snacks from Japan, enjoy the new items we've got for you, including Caplico (ice cream you can eat anywhere), delicious chocolate 5 yen coin candy, delicious egg furikake, and squid
  • Camouflage is definitely "in" this year in Japan -- we've got a handy camouflage room organizer that you can use to store anything
  • For Hello Kitty fans, many items, including a cute Kitty silk purse, a hand-knit Kitty mascot that's so cute, and a rare set of Kitty finger puppets!
  • For fans of the only-released-in-Japan Hot Wheels, we've got a new vehicle for you from a classic anime
  • Enjoy a new keychain set for fans of One Piece, the famous Jump anime and manga
  • For Totoro and Sun Arrow fans, enjoy several new items, including a cute Mei doll, fresh stock of the dynamite tin toy items
  • For Ultraman fans, we've got a cool item -- a rubber Ultraman mask
  • We've got lots of fun Hamtaro items, including the Hamtaro drawing set, fresh stock of Hamtaro Hiragana notebooks and more
  • J-List loves to carry "parody goods" from Japan, such as the Bandage Memo (post-its that look like band-aids), fresh stock of the wasabi lighting keychain and more
  • Finally, enjoy puffy carriers that protect your possessions (great for laptop computer), a neat dish-drying rack for your sink, fresh stock of bento boxes and chopsticks for your kitchen, fresh stock of stylish Blythe dolls, and more!

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

  • For lovers of fine Japanese adult magazines, we've got the new Gokuh, the delightful and bold magazine of erotic photography from Eichi Publishing
  • We've got the new issue of the extremely popular Gal's Shower, a wonderful all-bukkake magazine for fans of this unique Japanese fetish
  • Don't miss Mini-Skirt Sexy DVD, featuring 180 minutes of beautiful and erotic Japanese Race Queen sexy ladies and a full color magazine
  • We've got some great photobooks for you as well, including a very authentic first nude photobook by a nurse at a famous Tokyo hospital, and a superb nude featuring the lovely Natsuki Abe
  • Japan as a country is very fond of dressing up in costumes, which is called "cosplay" -- now you can dress up as an erotic maid with a new item we've got for you
  • For hentai doujinshi fans, we've got another selection of top-notch erotic underground comics, although we have only limited stock -- so check quickly!
  • Also, for fans of more convention Japanese hentai "wide" manga, enjoy a super two volume set by Masayoshi Mukai and EX Comics
  • Also, a new item: two "eComics" which are complete hentai comics on two great card-sized CD-ROMs that are beautifully printed, a very nice item for collectors
  • For fans of adult DVDs from Japan, we've got a great lineup for you today, starting with a new Adult Video Wrestling special, 120 minutes of the finest realistic sexual pro wrestling we've seen (region free)
  • We love the pure beauty and girl-next-door looks of Hikari Kisugi, and now you can see enjoy her erotic loveliness in a Blue File release, 3 hours of her best work on one disc! (region free)
  • Mirei Asaoka was one of the queens of 1990's adult video, and she shines again in a great new 4-hour release from Alice Japan (region free)
  • Enjoy two girls with wonderful "exploding breasts" (as they say in Japanese) -- Maria Yumeno and Ryo Aihara team up in a new "coupling" DVD from SOD (region free)
  • The sultry, burning eros of Airi Niiyama is captured in a new offering from Wanz Factory, a great erotic DVD for fans of Japanese bondage play (region 2)
  • Finally for fans of highly developed Japanese lesbian performances, see a new Le-Zu-Bian offering from U and K!

Remember that J-List makes dozens of magazines available through our "reserve subscription" system. Basically, we'll pre-reserve the current issue of each month's magazine for you and have it in the mail to you by the time it's in bookstores here in Japan -- a few days earlier, actually, since we get our stock earlier than most bookstores. We've got many different anime, toy, JPOP/JROCK, idol and other magazines available, we just know there's something you'd love to get each month. See the magazine subscription pages on our site for more information.