Japan is a long country shaped like a reversed letter "L." Historically, most of the cultural development in Japan has taken place in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara), or in the Kanto region, where Tokyo is. The Tohoku region of Japan, the northern 1/3rd of the main Japanese island of Honshu, is much quieter and less developed, lacking much of the clanging trains and freeways that can be found in areas closer to Japanese cities. In my days as a bachelor, I hitchhiked around Japan quiet a bit, and one of my favorite areas has always been northern Japan -- what it lacks in famous castles and battlegrounds and shrines it makes up in quiet rural charm. One place I enjoyed going to was Aizu-Wakamatsu, the scene of one of the last battles of the conflict between the feudal samurai and the pro-reform Restorationists, who were trying to modernize Japan. Rather than submit to becoming "modernized," the last remaining group of samurai chose to commit seppuku. It's a grim but fascinating place to visit.
When you go to Northern Japan for the first time, you may notice that many of the place names are really strange -- although they're written in kanji, the names have the impression of being part of another country altogether. The reason is that the Ainu were the inhabitants of the Tohoku area for centuries, and left their impression on the region even as they were pushed farther and farther north by Japan's growing feudal culture. The place names are so odd that if you write them down in kanji and asked Japanese from another part of the country to read them, very few would be able to do so.
Japan's cold northern region is home to enka music, the "country music" of Japan that has a very unique sound and is enjoyed by truck drivers. Filled with themes of one's wife running away to Hokkaido to marry another man, of images of the cold Tsugaru Straits between Honshu and Hokkaido, it plucks at the heart in ways few other kinds of music can. A popular song a few years ago captured the joy an old man felt at seeing his first grandchild. I fell in love with enka when I came to Japan and learned some of the songs -- there's nothing more fun than a gaijin getting up in a karaoke bar to sing a very traditional Japanese song. Two famous enka singers are Yoshi Ikuzo and Sen Masao. They both hail from Aomori Prefecture, at the very top of the main Japanese island of Honshu. One man is from the Tsugaru Peninsula, on the left side of the prefecture, and the other is from Shimokita Peninsula, on the right side. There's friendly feud between the two men about the intelligence and bathing habits of inhabitants from the other side.
J-List offers subscriptions to various magazines from Japan, with a wide variety of great titles available each month. We've made a change to our magazine subscriptions, eliminating the 6- and 12-month prepaid subscriptions in place of revolving "reserve subscriptions" that allow you to get the current issue sent to you automatically, until you ask us to stop. (People who have currently subscriptions will continue to get the rest of their issues.) The new subscriptions include great magazines like Urecco, Gal's Dee, Bejean and Gokuh, and there's a price break for subscribers, too.
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of Studio Ghibli's popular anime films, we've got the new release of Omoide Poro Poro ("Only Yesterday"), their classic story of Japan in the Showa era and of a girl growing into a woman -- complete with English subtitles!
- Everyone loves Totoro, and we've got two new Totoro music boxes by Sun Arrow in stock for you
- For fans of sexy Japanese swimsuit idols, Race Queens and so on, we've got some nice new photobooks, including Ai Ito's pretty photobook
- Also, we've got a new pocket sized "Chinkame" photobook for fans of the very lovely Kaori Manabe
- For lovers of Japanese snacks, we've got tasty furikake (salmon flavored, my favorite), a great "choco caramel" treat, and delicious Gummi Apples
- Also, for those who don't have enough "yogurt mint" gum in their lives, we've got some in stock for you today!
- If you've got a computer (and you probably do if you're reading this), you need a Flavor Mini Vacuums, which make it easy to keep your computer and keyboard free of dust and dirt, and they come in cool fruity colors
- We have fresh stock of the English DVD of She, The Ultimate Weapon, the special version that comes with a great PVC figure of Chise
- We love traditional Japanese things from Japan, and we've got a great set of erasers that look like Japanese classical sweets and green tea -- so cool!
- We love the fun Kubrick and Be@rbrick toys, and we've got a funky new series, Kuma-Ku from Jun Planning
- For fans of Japanese Tomica die-cast cars, we've got a Mitsubishi Pajero Rally Type in stock -- very spiffy
- We've got some great anime toys, including a super-deluxe "full paint figure" from Azumanga Daioh that is unbelievably cool, as well as a fun bubble-blower for Ojamajo Doremi fans
- For fans of bilingual manga, which features both English and Japanese on each page, we've got a major update for you with fresh stock of Chobits vol. 1 & 2, as well as the popular Ghost in the Shell bilingual comic by Shirow Masamune
- The limited edition Shirow Masamune-designed mouse, which works perfectly with English Mac and Windows machines, is so popular it keeps selling out, but we've got more in stock for you!
- For fans of Sanrio character goods, we've got some nifty items for you including Pom Pom Purin cups and plates, a cool case to keep your Japanese name stamp, and more
- For all students, we've got fresh stock of the Zebra Check Set, which helps you memorize any information (also good for studying Japanese)
- Also, we've restocked the popular "Paper Stitch Lock" that "stitches" sheets of paper together, so you never need a staple
- Finally find many wacky things from Japan, including a portable ashtray that's great for smoking outdoors, a cute pencil case with insane English on it, great Japanese cotton swabs for removing make-up, some florescent ball-point pens, and more!
For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products. They include:
- For fans of Japanese adult magazines, we've got some nice amateur and love hotel magazines featuring very lovely girls and Japanese couples, including the new issue of the very detailed Do-Up
- Also, a magazine just for fans of "good girls" doing bad things called Miss Virginity's Secret Report
- We have a great magazine + sample DVD combo item, we've got DVD Wonderland vol. 3 in stock for you
- We've got some nice hardcover photobooks in stock for you including the lovely nude of Mayumi Sawaki, very lovely
- For Japanese hentai manga fans, we've got more in stock for you including the excellent AERO by Tenma Comics and vol. 2 of the Sinful Days hentai comic
- Also, look for freshly restocked items, including the Change! CD-ROM manga, the popular Fetish Doll manga series and more
- Also, we've posted several new doujinshi titles for you, although stock is limited (so check the site quickly before they sell out)
- For DVD fans, we've got some great titles for you, starting with a new Blue File offering for fans of Sanae Asou, with a whopping 4 hours of her best works (region free)
- We have another DVD for advanced leg fetishists, with a strict focus on stocked feet -- very erotic (region free)
- Fans of Akira Watase will enjoy her hardcore "Beauty Female Detective" in which she has many hard-boiled, hard-core adventures (region free)
- Enjoy a great "BBS Production" from SOD, based on a suggestion on SOD's fan BBS, a super "Lesbian Fight" in which four girls fight with sex to see who can make her opponent come the fastest (region free)
- We've got two great DVD releases from Wanz Factory, the best of their dynamite Hip & Vagina series, which features low-angle sexy AV featuring some of Japan's top sex stars (region 2)
- We've restocked several soft porn DVDs, including Maiko Kazano's Memories, Yuko Ogura's sweet DVD offerings and more
- Finally, Tomo has posted fresh stock of several popular titles that had been sold out before -- please see all the new items.
Remember that J-List has some of the last stock anywhere of the popular Hello Kitty vibrating shoulder massager, which has been one of the most popular items in J-List history. Sadly, no more of these great items will be available in the future, as the company that made them got into a spot of trouble with the Japanese tax authorities, and Sanrio has revoked their license. Since our current stock is all we'll ever get, we recommend anyone who's interested in this great pop culture item to get one before they're all gone. Get 3 or more and save 15% -- they make really great gifts!