Friday, May 09, 2003

Greetings from J-List May 9, 2003

Hello from Japan, where the restaurant chain Coco's bills itself as "The California Restaurant."

There's a famous face game that Japanese kids play, making Japanese foods with their faces. They foods are gyoza (which you may know by its American name "pot stickers"), made by bending the ear downwards; tako-yaki ("octopus balls," a ball of batter with a piece of octopus meat inside), made by pinching your cheek into a round ball; ume-boshi (dried, tart plum), made by making bumps on your chin stand up; and tarako (codfish roe), made by shaping your tongue like a slab of fish eggs. These are interesting faces that all Japanese know and recognize instantly. To see what they look like in action, we got unwilling J-List staff members to show us the faces. You can see them here: http://www.jlist.com/c3/faces.jpg

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 started skiing this past winter, 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.

Summer is fast approaching, and that means it's time for delicious suika bar ice cream, a fun to eat watermelon-shaped stick of ice cream sold in Japan by Lotte. It's a very realistic looking triangle of watermelon-flavored ice cream, with an edible green rine at the bottom, and "seeds" made out of chocolate. My own pet project is to get the company to make "ice tako-yaki" which would be balls of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate -- they'd contain a piece of gummi "octopus" inside to complete the illusion of eating the real thing. It would be so cool...

We love to find rare things that you can only find in Japan and make them available to people all over the world. For anyone with a computer -- that is, anyone reading this -- we've got a great new series of plush pets sold in Japan, called Groomy. Not only are they really cute, their undersides are made of soft chamois, which you can use to clean your computer monitor when it gets dirty. Innovative and fun to pet and hold, these are a huge hit in Japan, and we're happy to gotten some for you!

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

  • First, the zori sandals we posted on Wednesday were a big hit -- and we've got more cool traditional footwear from Japan for you, this time a series of wooden sandals for women, really well made and carved out of a single block of wood -- check them out
  • We carry many nice Japanese swimsuit idol and Race Queen items at J-List, and have the charming new photobook of Yui Ichikawa for you now
  • Fans of Blythe and highly collectible dolls of the 1970's, we have a treat -- Dolly Bird, featuring fabulous collectible doll culture from Japan, the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Enjoy great snacks from Japan, including more Calpis gummi treats, creamy milk butterscotch candies, an odd snack named Collon and traditional Japanese sweets called youkan
  • Plus, fresh stock of the popular chocolate covered sunflower seeds, shredded ika for you to eat (if you don't know what ika is, don't ask), miso soup and more
  • We've got some cool Hello Kitty goods for you, for fans of Sanrio goods you can't get out of Japan -- included are a rubber "kigurumi" Kitty mask that you wear on your head, a fun Kitty notepad, Kitty cake mix, and more
  • For fans of the traditional, enjoy a deluxe set you can eat Japanese soba noodles with, including dish, cup, chopsticks and more
  • For those with kids, how about a wacky "Kids on board" sign in Japanese? We've got some for you
  • If you ever loved Micronauts (as I did), we've got a special treat: a Takara SF collection of miniature toys based on the original Micronauts -- so cool, but we've only got a dozen in stock
  • We've restocked many of the popular "shokugan" (lit. "food and toy") items, miniature toys that come with ramune candy for you to eat -- we've restocked the popular sushi miniatures, Chinese food, and more
  • Also, we've been able to get one more batch of the really cool *full sets* of the Star Wars Kubrick bounty hunter series, including all the cool bounty hunters from the Empire Strikes Back -- please don't miss out on them!
  • For Totoro fans, we've restocked the really cool all-wood Totoro alarm clock, truly a god among alarm clocks if we ever saw one
  • Also, we've got fresh stock of the very cute Nyanko Restaurant series, which are little plush cats baked into food, if you can believe that -- but they're darned cute
  • We love things with funny English on them, and we've restocked the Japanese notebooks we've got that bear the enigmatic message "Times simply too very important to afford to be forgotten are true substance of our memories..."
  • Finally, see authentic Japanese resume forms (only J-List would carry something as wacky as this), more "please take off your shoes" signs, chopsticks from Japan, and more!

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

  • For fans of the talented erotic photography of Million Publishing, we've got the new Urecco Gal, which features fabulous erotic Japanese kogal and fun sexy idols
  • Then enjoy the new MPEG World, featuring Ran Asakawa and many other lovely gals -- and a killer Video CD of sampler movies, as well
  • J-List sells monthly magazines, including manga, hobby, fashion and adult magazines -- we've added a new "reserve subscription" magazine by customer request, the fantastic Young Hip!
  • Enjoy the pure nude of Mimi Mizuhara in a beautiful photobook that combines beautiful photography and glossy printing with the sex of Mimi and her lover
  • Also, Harumi Nemoto is an incredibly sexy swimsuit idol with a 103 cm bust -- trust us, that's a lot. Find her new photobook in stock, as well as fresh stock of her popular release from last month
  • Our May Manga sale is going strong, and Yasu has been working hard to make sure lots of great manga are stocked for you -- see great new erotic comics today, including fourteen sexual stories of "one night stands" by Wani Comics and a wonderful boxed set of hentai manga by artist Hitoshi Kino
  • We've also added fresh stock of several popular hentai manga, including dick girl manga, hentai works from Azuki Kurenai, and the bizarre comic "Tag"
  • Also for yaoi fans, a collection of erotic stories by Kaoruko Mayu, as well as fresh stock of other yaoi works
  • For doujinshi lovers, several new works have been posted to the site, including some really nice erotic amateur comics released recently in Japan
  • For DVD collectors, we've got some great items for you -- starting with "super concentrated bukkake" by Ai Nagase, at a superb price, too (region free)
  • Then enjoy a remix of erotic sex by Ayami Sakurai, the busty pretty girl who has made a name for herself in the Japanese adult video world -- a whopping 180 minutes on this DVD! (region free)
  • We love the World Wide Fuck series from Idea Pocket, and now there's a new title -- enjoy the sex of girls from Hungary, performing with Japanese actors and filmed with Japanese AV standards and sensibilities (region free)
  • Enjoy the best "Zenra Sports" (all-nude sports) from Japan with Deep's new Zenra Volleyball, featuring 24 positively beautiful Japanese girls who will spike your heart (region free)
  • A popular fetish in Japan right now is "Tamakeri" (ball-kicking), the fetish of having a pretty girl kick you in the balls -- see a great new DVD from SOD (region free)
  • From Moodyz, a great 2-DVD "Actress Collection" featuring the best sex of 20 top AV stars from Japan, a superb item for you to check out (region 2)
  • Finally, look for fresh stock of popular items, including Akira Watase's erotic Wet Set, Ran Monbu's erotic parody of famous idol singer Ayaya, Hitomi Hayasaka's erotic Other Side, and the Lesbian Heaven 4 Hours Special!

J-List carries the extremely popular small toys with snacks in them, known as "shokugan" in Japanese ("food with toy"). From miniature sushi and school desk sets from the Showa era to the excellent Star Wars dioramas, these a very affordable toys that are great to display in your home or office. They're also only sold in Japan, so when you buy some you know you've got something unique. Also, J-List goes the extra distance for you, making full sets of most items available, so you can buy a complete set without wasting your money buying duplicates.

The J-Mate site has been updated with new reviews of great adult DVDs, including a great hardcore DVD by Ruri Ayase and "Innocent Girls Make a Study of Female Genital Organs" -- both with plenty of screenshots. You can always read cool English interviews with AV stars from Japan, too. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Greetings from J-List May 7, 2003

Hi again from Japan, where you bow to drivers when they give you the right of way (and I do it to).

Concepts such as what defines cleanliness can vary from country to country. In Japan, shoes are dirty, so they're always taken off before you enter a house, to keep the dirt on the shoes from making the house dirty. They're left in a special recessed area by the front door called a "genkan" (we built one of these into our house in San Diego). Americans might wash shoes in the washing machine when they get really dirty, but doing this would be unthinkable here -- it would contaminate all your clothes, and you'd have to buy a new washing machine. Americans tend to dislike the Japanese-style toilets they have here, which you must squat over to use, but the Japanese point out that with a seatless toilet, you avoid getting other people's germs on any delicate areas, which is more sanitary. Despite this, the Japanese seem to be fans of the concept of a "communal cup" -- there's usually a plastic cup in public restrooms, presumably for everyone to use to get a drink of water, something which doesn't seem very sanitary to me, at least.

Now that it's gotten warmer, the boso-zoku can be heard riding noisily around at night more and more. An odd bit of counter-culture in Japan, the boso-zoku (lit. "tribe of those who run wildly") are street gangs that dress in very right-wing clothes and ride on motorcycles modified to be extra loud. The motorcycle gangs from Katsuhiro Otomo film Akira are based on the boso-zoku, but the real bike gangs aren't nearly as interesting as in the movie: they're mostly bored kids who dropped out of high school because they fell in with the wrong crowd and thought it was cool to make a lot of noise on a bike. You could call them "yakuza scouts" because Japan's famous mafia usually use boso-zoku members to transport and sell drugs for them. While it's probably dangerous to get on the wrong side of these loud kids, they're usually nothing more than an annoyance, especially when you're driving somewhere and get caught in a traffic jam caused by a group riding slowly through the town, ignoring stoplights and honking their horns.

You may be familiar with the Japanese word "otaku." A formal word which really means "you" or "your family," it's come to describe people who go all-out in pursuit of their hobbies. The most famous otaku are the anime otaku, aficionados of Japanese animation, but there are many other kinds of otaku, from military otaku to perfume otaku to train otaku, and so on. There seems to be something about the Japanese psyche that opens them up becomming obsessive when it comes to their hobbies. Unfortunately, while foreigners are often happy to use the word otaku to describe themselves as a lover of Japan, I really have to advise against referring to yourself as an otaku front of Japanese people. In Japan, the concept of people getting carried away collecting doujinshi, Zippo lighters, and Disney plush toys is cute, but the idea of being an otaku is really not a positive one to the Japanese mind -- just as you might not know what to think about a person who boasted about what a "Trekkie" he was. If you're an otaku, my advice is to hide your otakuism from Japanese people until they know you better, and not show it right away.

We're always happy to see our wacky Japanese T-shirts selling well, and we thank you for your support. In order to make room for new designs, we're always closing out some of our current shirts. Shirts that we won't be making any more of include Hiragana Man (a famous Japanese doodle), Men Over Women, and Your Mother has a Protuding Belly Button. If you'd like to get one of these shirts before they're gone, we suggest you hurry while we have your size in stock. Invariably, we always get requests for shirts when they're sold out, so please plan ahead.

Mac users, we've got a treat for you. The cute shooting game that comes with the Viper Limited Edition CD-ROM is now Mac compatible, too, in both OS 9 and X, so you can get in on this great item, too. Viper LE is a compilation of uncensored artwork, wallpaper, screen savers and other goodies for fans of Sogna's Hyper Animation Viper series, a popular animated hentai game line from Japan.

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

  • First, we're happy to announce a new category of product at J-List -- traditional Japanese shoes, including Japanese "zori" sandals that are made from the same material tatami mats are made of
  • Show your love for your family with a cute heart-shaped pancake maker -- they'll know you love them
  • For fans of Japanese snacks, enjoy tasty Calpis orange gummi treats, Beyblade rice snacks, dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh stock of Sakura Drops (the "Grave of the Fireflies" candy), miso soup, and more
  • Also, a treat I hope everyone will try: salmon ochazuke, which you pour on white rice and then pour boiling water over it all to make a hearty meal
  • Ear cleaners in Japan are a little difference from what you may be used to -- we've got in stock of traditional ear cleaners made from bamboo which you use to remove ear wax just like the Japanese do
  • For Kitty fans, we've got many cute items, like a Kitty "dental care set," gift bag set, the really cool Kitty Pachinko machine and Astro Ball, and the popular Kitty document shreader
  • We love anything with outrageous English on it, and we've got a cool series of "fancy aroma sheets" for you that fit the bill
  • Also, we've got a cool new Japanese sign for you -- don't let your dog poop here
  • Cute stationary and erasers are something we sell a lot of here, and we've got some cool items: Japanese PET bottle erases that parody famous drinks, sushi erasers, and more
  • Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) is a great anime about an alternate 19th century Japan, with steam-powered mecha walking around -- we've got a great figure + ramune candy set in stock, with full sets of these cool figures available for a limited time
  • A favorite dessert in Japan is an upside-down caramel pudding called "purin" (aka caramel flan), and now you can put together an attractive 3D puzzle and display it in your room -- very Japanese
  • For Evangelion fans, a fabulous new large-size Eva toy from Kaiyodo
  • Also, if you love Totoro and the movies of Hayao Miyazaki, we've got a major restocking of high-quality Sun Arrow plushes for you, including the Fox Squirrel from Laputa/Nausica and Soot Sprite, Laputa music boxes, and more
  • We love to stock unique gift ideas, and have a new page with suggestions for gift-giving -- one item we think would make a nice gift for someone is the Cup Noodle coffee cup, that looks like a real cup of ramen
  • Finally, look for a cute way to drink loose tea including the Japanese teas we sell, a great way for women to avoid sweat stains on their clothes, cute magnets of fruits an vegetables, and more!

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

  • For fans of lovely Japanese magazines from Japan, we've got the bold new issue of Gokuh, featuring the lovely nudes of Mai Hagiwara, Hikari Kisugi
  • We've also got a treat for Race Queen fans -- a super photobook and 120 min. DVD for Race Queen fans, but the lovely idols in this photobook show you everything
  • Back in print after many years, we've got the dynamite nude photobook of Vivian Hsu, Angel, a super item for collectors
  • Enjoy the busty swimsuit loveliness of Yoko Matsugane in a new Million Mook that is not to be missed
  • For photobook fans, enjoy the erotic nude of Miku Matsumoto, expertly photographed for you in her new hardcover photobook, as well as other great items
  • To help you help us make our May Manga Sale a success, we've added another half dozen all-new hentai mangas for you to check out, including a new "Excellent" series anthology and an erotic tale of lust from AV Comics
  • Also, look for a general restocking of several popular comics, posted near the top of the page if you're viewing the "three days update" link
  • We've got some new doujinshi in stock for you, for fans of the popular underground comics -- stock is limited to one of each though, so hurry
  • Also, another great "doujin" photobook featuring famous erotic girls on a rare CD-ROM
  • For DVD collectors, we've got the third and final volume in the U&K Les Best Collection series, a must-own item for lesbian aficionados (region free)
  • From Dogma and Tohjiro, enjoy a new "Trance" series DVD featuring the erotic "restraining chair" -- great for bondage fans (region free)
  • Female teacher Reiko Mizuno becomes the erotic pet of Mai Tamura in a new fetish DVD release from Soft on Demand (region free)
  • Japanese fans want to learn everything they can about their favorite idols -- see your favorite AV stars behind the scenes, talking and eating bento in between AV shoots, in an interesting new DVD (region free)
  • Then, enjoy another great "Wild Replay" value-priced re-release, Yukari Kanou's super erotic Black Semen in LA, in which she takes on a huge number of large black men (region 2)
  • Then, enjoy the light bondage sex of Chika Kawamura, the busty indies idol, in a new release from Wanz Factory (region 2)
  • Finally, fresh stock of many popular DVDs, including the Magic Mirror Box Car special box set, the First Kisses of Nude Amateur Girls, the popular lesbian "My First Experience" and the ever-popular 108 Girls All-Nude Zenra Sports -- check them all out!

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 that it is. Why not get a few, and give them out as gifts? If you get 3 or more you get 15% off automatically. Production has totally stopped on this item, and we expect that they're going to start to get very rare in the near future.

Interested in JPOP and Japanese music? Please visit our friends at JPOP.com (http://www.jpop.com), a great site that's filled with information on Japanese pop music, cute swimsuit idols, and Japanese pop culture in general. They also have a great BBS for chatting about what's popular in Japan right now.