Every year the Japanese Tax Ministry releases a list of the Japanese who have paid the most income tax the previous year. The actual incomes of individuals is not released, but the amount of tax they pay is public record, and it's always fun to see who had a good year. For actors and "talents," the highlights were Nakai-kun and Takuya Kimura of SMAP (#1 and #10 on the list, respectively), along with all four members of the comedy teams "Tunnels" and "DownTown" -- you may be surprised to hear that Taka of Tunnels, who played the Japanese comic relief character in Major League 2, is one of the richest men in Japan's entertainment world. For singers, the #1 position went to Japanese superstar Ayumi Hamasaki (the J.Lo of Japan -- she was written up in a recent issue of Wired if you caught her), with Hikaru Utada close on her tail. In sports, Hideki Matsui got the top spot for 2002, helped along by his successful trade to the New York Yankees. Others who figured high in the rankings were JPOP producers Tetsuya Komuro and Tsunk and manga creator Rumiko Takahashi, who is paid around $4000 per page to draw for Shonen Sunday.
The stylish Roppongi area of Tokyo has gotten a posh new address, a massive skyscraper containing thousands of shops and "mansions" (what the Japanese call a high-class apartment) called Roppongi Hills. The new building also contains many thousand square feet of prime office space. But while Tokyo-ites are happy to have a fashionable new place to hang out, Tokyo is facing a crisis that's being called "the Problem of 2003." Years of a flagging economy has lowered demand for office space in the city, and most buildings are having problems attracting tenants. When a classy new building opens, tenants want to move into the new space, and that makes it difficult for the remaining buildings to stay competitive. The problem is no doubt exacerbated by the Japanese "key money" system. Under this system, if you wanted to get an apartment in Japan, you'd generally have to pay 6 months rent up front, which includes the first month's rent, two month's rent worth of deposit, a fee to a third party that found the apartment for you and two months "thank you" money that is paid to the landlord for no reason at all. If you think it would be a drag coming up with $3000 just to move into a $500 a month apartment, multiply these numbers by the high rents a large company would be paying for office space, since the "key money" system is the same no matter how much space you're renting. We hope that one by-product of the current Japanese recession is the emergence of a little common-sense in the business world in Japan.
Despite the fact that Japanese are the longest-lived race (or the 2nd longest lived, depending on the study you read), the Japanese are really big on smoking. 60% of men smoke, and quite a few women, too, which is a little strange to my liberal California way of thinking. Unlike the U.S., where smokers are urged to quit smoking to preserve their health, Japan doesn't have a problem allowing smoking and generating tax revenue from it. For many years the Japanese government operated Japan's largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco (they also make a line of canned beverages), and although the company has been privatized, it still retains a semi-official status with the government. Because of the great revenues generated from smoking in Japan, there's not much pressure for it to go away at present. Even the "warning label" on cigarettes in Japan is a joke. It reads: "Because there is concern that it will damage your health, please be careful not to smoke too much." Sadly, as tobacco companies have run into more barriers selling their products in the U.S., they've increased their advertising and overall presence in Japan. All U.S. brands are very well known in Japan, from Camels to Marlboro to Kool. As in the U.S., they don't allow cigarette advertising on TV in Japan, however when you go to some movie theatres you should be prepared to see a huge in-your-face ad for some tobacco product or another before the show starts. It's bizarre.
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for collectors of cool Hello Kitty goods, we've got several items, including a super-cute Kitty bonnet that will make you the envy of all Kitty fans
- Show your otakuism with several new authentic Japanese hachimaki we've got in stock, featuring messages like "I will pass the test" and "Certain victory"
- For fans of unique Japanese toys, we've got a super cool large-size Blythe doll all decked out in 70's style
- Also, a rare item for Tokyo Mew Mew fans: the super cute Strawberry Bell Bell transforming toy with lights and sound
- For fans of popular Japanese swimsuit idols, we've got some nice new items in, including a superb all-Yuko Ogura photobook that you will love
- Shirow Masamune fans are having a great year so far, with tons of great new toy and art items being released (to say nothing of the Matrix sequels, inspired by his Ghost in the Shell) -- now take a trip back in time with a 2000 Shirow calendar, available on a very limited basis again
- Also for Shirow fans, find the new Ghost in the Shell DVD (vol. 6) is in stock, featuring the next two episodes in this fabulous series, as well as fresh stock of the Ghost in the Shell bilingual manga
- If you love Zelda but didn't catch the Zelda Box that we had in stock for so brief a time last week, we've gotten in another 50 copies in stock for you -- enjoy this really cool item before it sells out again!
- High on the "really cool" meter comes a cool line of bizarre Be@rbrick Pez-like toys, which are both fun to use as candy dispensers or to display. We've got full sets of these cool toys in stock, but only a couple...
- For fans of Japanese snack foods, enjoy Chocolate Pie from Lotte, delicious potato-flavored pretzels, and some great Hello Kitty hayashi rice mix (like curry rice) that you or your little one will love
- Also, J-List has gotten in fresh stock many great items regularly, including miso soup with clams, furikake, and just in time for the heat of summer, deluxe packages of mugi tea that will improve health as they refresh you this summer
- For those who want to try a Japanese "onsen" bath, we've got two varieties of bath salts in stock for you
- If you have a laptop, we've got a great item for you: an all-purpose case that's great for notebooks as well as many other things
- Our funny Japanese T-shirts have made us famous, but we've got another cool shirt for you -- a "tattoo shirt" that makes you look like a yakuza (we only have limited stock, but more are on order already in case you want to order one)
- For your kitchen, enjoy traditional Japanese bowls that look like they're made of polished wood (although ours are made out of more economical plastic) -- several new items in stock
- For fans of Japanese stickers and signs, we've got a reflective sticker that asks guests to remove their shoes at the door before entering
- For Totoro fans, we've got a major restocking of products for you, including the Totoro Diorama Musical Clock, Totoro magnets, and many high-quality Totoro plush items from Sun Arrow (including all the popular Spirited Away plush toys)
- For those who believe in the Chinese art of feng shui, we've restocked really cool Fortune Eggs, featuring ceramic "lucky cat" figures inside beautiful eggs, which will bring you good luck in love, life, career, and so on
- Finally, look for other wacky items from Japan, including Hello Kitty ear cleaners, more authentic chopsticks from Japan, a fun way to make sushi yourself, more traditional Japanese items for your room, a great clock for Ultraman fans, a sampling of rare toy items that had been sold out before, and more!
For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products. They include:
- For lovers of beautiful Japanese kogals, those stylish young things that look so good when done up right, we have the newest issue of Urecco Gal in stock for you!
- Then enjoy the hardcore sex of "one-sans" (oh-NAY-sans, a word which means older sister, but in this case means older girls in their 20s with lots of sexual experience)
- We've got some great photobooks for you, including the hardcover nude offering of Eri Yukawa and the super sexy "Hot Zone" of Toshimi Sugawara as well as the "H" (sex) of Emi Hasegawa
- Also, enjoy the best "oppai" (breasts) of nine incredibly beautiful Japanese models, including many who are retired and whose photos are now very rare
- Strippers and exotic dancing are popular in Japan, and when AV idols retire they often become strippers -- see a great hardcover photobook with the erotic performances of 50 lovely strippers, in stock now
- Mai Hagiwara fans will enjoy the fresh stock we've got of her popular erotic photobooks, including Love and Peach and Mirukuru Love
- We love carrying a wide range of toys for adults, including vibrators and other unique items sold only in Japan -- we also carry thin, close-fitting Japanese condoms, and have two new joke condoms for you, parodying Titanic and Gundam
- For fans of our unparalleled lineup of hentai manga, we've got an excellent selection of six new books for you, including an erotic female ninja sex anthology comic, sex with lovely female teachers, and a sweet erotic comic from Akiko Sou about love and sex
- Also, to help you help us make our manga sale a success, we've added fresh stock of several other great comics, including popular "Equation of the Night" by Azuki Kurenai, Mercy Rabbit's popular "Love Vibration" and more
- If you love Japan's doujinshi underground comics, we've got a great CD-ROM full of "doujin CG" by the excellent Behind Moon circle
- For yaoi fans, enjoy the new issue of Muscle Man, a very hardcore anthology comic for fans of Japan's famous homosexual comics
- For our DVD collecting customers, we've got more great items for you starting with a new "Masterpiece Concentration" DVD with two full hours of the lovely sex of Kyoka Usami for you -- and at a great price (region free)
- Then enjoy a new "No Cut!!" release from Kuki, featuring three full hour-long AV productions of this pure, lovely AV star (region free)
- Then enjoy the super willing sex of Ru Hoshino, who never says no to you in her new release by SOD, "I Wanted to Have Such a Girlfriend as Her" (region free)
- For bukkake fans, enjoy a new erotic "Mydol Semen" with the lovely Miyuki Nakama, who accepts the sperm of dozens of men in an extremely cool DVD from Chujitsu-doh and Soft on Demand (region free)
- We've also got a great new Dream Shower DVD by Waap, the indies studio that invented the bukkake craze -- see the hardcore sex and bukkake sperm of the lovely Sumomo Yoshimura (region 2)
- Finally, find several restocked DVDs including Mai Hagiwara's "Back Mirukuru," Akira Watase's erotic DVDs, a general restocking of the erotic "Blue" underwater girl DVDs, and more!
Remember that J-List carries region free DVD players that allow you to watch DVDs from all over the world. We carry three great region free DVD players for you to choose from, the multi-featured Cyberhome DVD CH-500, the handy and small Lasonic DVB-8092, and the reliable and value-priced Sampo DVE-612. Each one is perfect for watching DVDs from around the world, including Japan (region 2) as well as Europe (PAL discs). Our excellent players are stocked in San Diego for your convenience and we ship daily. Why not see our unique code-free DVD players today?