Transliteration is the act of transcribing from one writing system into another, for example from Japanese to the Roman alphabet. There are several aspects of Japanese that make writing Japanese words in English an inherently vague and challenging process. For example, there are long vowels in Japanese that are meaningless when written out in English and which don't affect the pronunciation of words at all. The correct way to write "pretty girl" in Japanese is "bishoujo" with the extra 'u' in the middle, and yet it's often shortened to "bishojo." Is it better to leave the long vowels in the word, which complicates pronunciation and makes the words harder to remember, or should they be omitted? Incidentally, famous place names like Tokyo and Osaka also have long vowels that are cut to avoid making the name needlessly long. Another area where there is vagueness about how to write Japanese words or names in English is L and R. Is Japanese AV idol Aoi Sora better written as Aoi Sola? There's often little agreement and so both names are used sometimes -- there's no "right" way to write her name. It can be very confusing, especially to search engines that can't tell that two similar words are the same.
Then there's the system used to actually write Japanese words in English. Japanese is a syllable-based language, and has a system of syllabary sounds built into its structure. You can express the sounds ka, ki, ku, ke, and ko in Japanese, but not "k" all by itself. Three of the syllables in Japanese are pronounced "shi" "tsu" "chi" and thus, it's natural that they be written that way when translating from Japanese to English. This is part of the Hepburn system of transliterating, and most gaijin favor it because it makes the transliterated word easier to pronounce accurately. Another system, the Nihon system, forces these three syllables into neat "consonant + vowel" pairs, producing "si" "tu" and "ti" even though the sounds aren't pronounced like that at all. Whenever there are two competing systems it's common for the lesser one to be adopted as standard -- kind of reminds me of computing platforms ^_^ -- and thus millions of Japanese children are forced to learn the Nihon system in Japanese schools. If you want to see how the two systems compare, here's a page for you: http://papillon.ex.nii.ac.jp/romaji/hepburn.html
Want to know a Japanese joke? In Japanese, the word for Prime Minister is "souri" ("sori" but with a slightly elongated first syllable), which sounds like the English word "sorry" to the Japanese. "Sori," a similar-sounding word, means "razor." Japanese kids have a stupid saying that has endured for decades: "I'm sorry, hige sori (beard shaver), jori jori (the sound of rough, unshaven whiskers)." If you're ever talking to a Japanese person, and they apologize to you for something, come back at them with "hige sori, jori jori!" (HEE-gay SO-ree, JOE-ree JOE-ree) and watch them jump out of their shoes in surprise.
We've got a great update for you this weekend, starting with a bizarre new wacky Japanese T-shirt for you. In Japanese public baths, there's always a sign indicating that customers with tattoos (e.g. yakuza, Japanese famous Mafia) are not allowed in. We loved this idea so much, we've captured it on a wacky T-shirt. As usual, we pride ourselves on offering shirts that everyone can enjoy, and we have size S all the way up through 3XL available. All shirts ship from our San Diego warehouse.
For the special weekend update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, a unique item for nature lovers: We've gotten in incredibly detailed bird figures that look great, and the birds sing for you when you press a button! Wonderful miniature bird figures from Japan that will bring a little happiness to your room
- For fans of cosplay, there is a great cosplay photobook that features dozens of great cosplayers dressing up for you, famous idols and more -- a great item for all fans of Japanese costume play!
- Then enjoy a great 5 year anniversary photobook of Morning Musume, with great pictures from all the Mo-Musu girls
- For fans of cut maid girls, we've got a great special issue of Automatic Maiden that comes with a great full-color completed PVC figure
- We love the fun and unique Kubrick block toys from Japan's famous toy maker Medicom Toy, and we've got some new ones for you: the Lupin the 3rd Castle of Caliostro figures, and we have full sets available for you!
- Another great item for Kubrick fans, full sets of the Sesame Street figure collection, including Big Bird, Ernie and Grover -- this rocks! (but our stock is extremely limited)
- The superb Ghost in the Shell toy sets have been selling so fast we're afraid of running out of stock soon -- get yours fast if you want one! We've also added a two-figure set, two "black metal" versions of Major Kusanagi
- For fans of Japanese TV and comedy on DVD, we've got the very cool Happatai, the wacky team of six comedians who dance with fig leaves covering their privates, all lots of fun
- For fans of Japanese snacks, we've got some nice new items for you, including chocolate rusk (which are baked and dried bread, we're told), tasty sausages, sardines stewed in miso (yum) and Japanese fried rice mix
- Also, some great Japanese "etiquette gum" that freshens your breath
- For Hello Kitty fans, a great item for your kitchen: a plastic container that holds 1.7 liters of any liquid (we recommend that you use it with the Japanese mugi cha tea bags that we sell -- great for summer, and very healthy!)
- Also very fun, a Hello Kitty sushi playset (stock is limited to one unfortunately)
- We love to sell all kinds of cool things from Japan, and always stock healthy miso soup, onigiri mix, and other items like that -- look for various newly stocked items today
- J-List carries authentic "loose socks" -- the big baggy socks that high school girls wear here, and we've restocked our 70 and 120 cm socks for you
- For Totoro and Studio Ghibli fans, restocking of many popular items, including the Laputa Robot music box, the Totoro knapsack, and the cute Fox Squirrel from Nausica and Laputa
- Finally, look for new wacky notebooks from Japan that sport funny English, a Hello Kitty flower notebook that's very cute, more cute dictionaries for those studying Japanese, a great Kitty ceramic mug, fresh stock of the Hello Kitty USB hub, and more!
For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products. They include:
- First, for fans of the beautiful and bold photography of Urecco, we've got a great new Urecco Gal in for you, filled with positively fabulous Japanese kogals and bombshells
- Then enjoy hardcore sex in the new Sasotte Ageru ("I'll ask you out"), featuring authentic amateurs in love hotels
- Follow the Japanese video industry with the new Video Girls, which covers all the top Japanese AV stars -- and comes with a 120 minute DVD free!
- Also, we've got a great magazine and DVD combo item that gives you super erotic S&M and bondage action and a 120 DVD, for a great price
- Enjoy several new glossy and hardcover new photobooks including the erotic nude of An Nanba (so nice), and fresh stock of other photobooks including Garo Aida's Strawberry Diary, Sora Aoi's great hardcover photobook, and Yui Ichikawa dressing up in sexy costumes
- For hentai manga fans, some great items today, including the erotic Caramel Taste (lactating sex manga), World War of Cat Ears (an all-cat girl hentai manga), and many more great new books
- Also, a massive restocking of manga for you, including the popular Blue Eyes manga by Tohru Nishimaki, Cheeky Petite Angels, New Century Big-Breasted Legend Natsumi and more
- For yaoi fans, another great story of romance and sex by Nase Yamato
- For our DVD collectors, some great items for the before-weekend update, starting with the elegant and stylish sex of Amu Masaki in a new Stars!! DVD release, 150 minutes long and offered at a great price (region free)
- For fans of Nao Oikawa, who is the #1 ranked AV idol in Japan today (she gets $25,000 just for showing up on an AV set), a new Bring Up Ecstasy 4 Hour DVD from Million (region free)
- Alternately, you can get the wonderful new Bring Up Ecstasy 4 Hour box set, featuring five fantastic titles for a total of 20 hours of prime Japanese AV (the Nao Oikawa title is included in this boxed set) (region free)
- Soft on Demand is always there for you, letting you act out your fetishes -- now explore the world of bikini fetish in a great new Magic Mirror Bus offering from SOD (region free)
- Girls from Russian and Eastern Europe are extremely popular in Japan these days, and there are many great videos that aren't available outside of Japan -- explore the wonderful pure sex of four girls from Hungary in a new offering from Wild Side (region free)
- For fans of the best lesbian DVDs in Japan, we've got a new offering from U&K, featuring the female sex of Maki Tomoda and Yuna Suzaki (region free)
- For Hikari Kisugi fans (including yours truly), a great new erotic image DVD in the "Fetish & Erotic" series, featuring incredibly beautiful images of Hikari-chan dressing up in costumes, swimming underwater, playing with lingerie, and much more -- and the price is great! (region 2)
- Finally, look for restocked DVDs, including Keep on a Fascinate Uniform, Campaign Gal Party 7.5 hours, Ayumi Sakurai Re-Mix Special, Shinobi (ninja fetish) and more!
Remember that J-List offers revolving subscriptions to some of Japan's most popular magazines, including anime magazines (Animage, Newtype), toy magazines (Hobby Japan), manga magazines (Coro Coro and Afternoon), and more. Some of these are very cutting edge and cool to read, such as Japanese street fashion magazines Fruits and Egg, and don't forget to check out Megami Magazine, loaded with posters and stickers and other cool things. These magazines will be sent to you as soon as they're available each month, before they're even sent to the newsstands here in Japan, and you can cancel your subscription any time. See the magazine subscription pages for more information.