Friday, August 22, 2003

Greetings from J-List August 22, 2003

Hello again from Japan, where it's considered good manners to turn your car's headlights off at stoplights (to avoid blinding the other driver across from you).

Although Japan is a modern, safe country, and Japanese are usually kind and helpful to foreigners, there are some things you have to get used to if you're going to ever live here. Seafood pizza, crowded trains, drunk men on those same crowded trains, bank cash machines that close at 7 pm, having a naked girl sandwiched between articles in a news magazine -- they're all part of life in Japan. One minor frustration I always had was getting used to the habit of Japanese shops and restaurants closing on a set day of the week, their "teikyubi" or regular weekly holiday. Whether you're going to the local department store to shop for new shoes you need, or heading to your favorite ramen shop, chances are you'll go there on the day it's closed, and have to make other plans. Japanese don't do this -- they have some latent knowledge about which stores are closed on which days, but gaijin aren't so lucky.

It's quite interesting to analyze how Japanese name their cars. First of all, names given to Japanese cars must sound "kakko ii" (cool, good style), and since nothing sounds cooler to the Japanese ear than English, most cars here get their names from English words -- like Honda Life, or Nissan Bluebird, or Mazda Roadster (aka the Miyata, although all Japanese think it means "road star" just as they think Pizza Hut is really "Pizza Hat"). But many other names come from slightly altered English words. Car names like Carolla, Tercel, Soarer, Sylphy and Premacy sound like English, but car companies can still "own" the original names. Japanese cars must never, ever have Japanese names, since that would be "kakko warui" (un-cool, bad style) -- Japanese are always amused to learn that the Suzuki Jiminy was sold as Suzuki Samurai in the U.S. However, there are some cars whose names started out as Japanese words before being "English-ified." Toyota Camry, for example, gets its name from "kanmuri," which means crown in Japanese -- which is funny, since Toyota sells a higher-priced sedan in Japan called Toyota Crown, and has sold a car called Corona in the past, too. (Incidentally, the Camry is not popular at all in Japan -- it's just too generic to be popular with Japanese drivers.) In the CLAMP anime Rayearth, virtually all the characters and place names were taken from cars -- Presea, Ferrio, there was even a character named Geo Metro.

Do you have a cat's tongue? If so, it means that you can't eat hot food or drink hot drinks, just like a cat. The Japanese say that anyone who avoids hot food has a cat's tongue (neko jita). What is you have lazy eye? If so, then you are "rom-pari" which is Japanese for "Rome, Paris" -- i.e. one eye is looking at Rome and the other is looking at Paris. If you're thinning on top, you might have "bar code hair," as the Japanese say. Opening a bag of chips along its spine, so that the bag is spread out with the chips sitting on top, is called "manko ake" (MAHN-ko AH-kay), which literally means "to open so that it resembles the female genitalia." And if you sneeze, the Japanese say that someone must be gossiping about you (this comes up in anime quite often).

It's always fun to watch American politics as seen from outside the U.S., and the California governor's race is no different. Japanese are all very familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is universally known as "Shuwa-chan" here, and having him in the race makes it extra interesting for Japanese viewers. Although I don't live in the U.S., I vote in most elections through the absentee ballot system. I personally plan to vote for Georgie Russell, a candidate who's smart and pretty, and who knows Unix. If you're in California and don't have a candidate in mind already, I recommend her. See her official site at http://www.georgieforgov.com

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

  • First, we've got a very special item for fans of Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service: a super-deluxe Jiji the Cat plush toy from Sun Arrow, the high-quality toy maker and licensor of Mr. Miyazaki's creations
  • Also for Miyazaki fans, we've got a set of really cute Totoro "teacher stamps" that are great for Totoro fans, as well as fresh stock of several of the popular Bou plush toys from Spirited Away
  • Also, we've restocked the oh-so-cool Totoro cuckoo clock, which will be a treasure in your home for many years
  • For fans of cute and wacky toys from Japan, enjoy full sets of the To-Fu Kubrick toys from Medicom, including Angel Tofu, Fake Tofu, British Tofu, and more
  • We've got the new issue of Dengeki Gao, a superb monthly manga magazine that features a whopping 450 pages of great pages for you, and many fun extras
  • If you love to worship Japanese pretty idols, we've got a nice hardcover photobook featuring swimsuit idol Nana Katase, which comes with a great DVD too
  • Also, fresh stock of the much-requested Deluxe Bomb Marugoto Cosplay, which features 15 top-name idols like Yuko Ogura in super-cute anime and other costumes
  • Also, enjoy a great photo magazine of Sayaka Isoyama, the cute and lovely bikini idol who is very popular in Japan these days
  • For Shirow Masamune fans, don't miss the great new Ghost in the Shell TV series on DVD, featuring episodes 17 and 18 of this incredible high-budget series
  • If you want a really unique Harry Potter goods, we've got a great Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets bento box and matching spoon/fork/chopstick case
  • For fans of our Japanese snack foods, enjoy tofu miso soup that comes in Styrofoam bowls, more Teddy Cookies, and furikake for kids or adults
  • Also, enjoy herbal "throat candy" which lubricates your mouth and helps it function
  • For the businessman or traveller, we've got a great all-purpose carrying case that can hold many things -- and it gives off "minus ions" (negatively charged ions) which supposedly gives you a feeling of well-being
  • Just for the summer, some new wind chimes that are very nice and very Japanese
  • For Hello Kitty fans, a cute all-purpose Kitty case for carrying many things
  • Also, a major restocking of Hello Kitty items available only in Japan, including Kitty pachinko, Sanrio ice cube trays and the smash hit Columbus rolling egg toys (e.g. Weebles)
  • We've restocked many fun parody and traditional Japanese goods, including toilet paper to help you learn Japanese, funny Japanese tattoo shirts, Safety Soldier condoms, and Japanese headbands
  • For fans of popular Japanese fashion dolls, we've got a really cute Jenny doll, by Takara, dressed in her high school uniform
  • We've restocked our popular Hello Kitty toilet paper, which makes a great gift for that Kitty-loving (or -hating) friend at work
  • We've got even more wacky signs from Japan, more maps of Japan, chopsticks and other items for your kitchen, more "The Dog" stickers, fresh stock of Pocari sweat powder and loose socks glue, and more -- check them all out!

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

  • For fans of Urecco, the #1 magazine at J-List, we've got a great new issue, featuring beautiful nude and sexy idols, kogals, top AV stars, cosplay bunnies and more
  • For fans of hardcore magazines, enjoy the new issue of Desire, which features voluptuous Japanese amateurs having sex all over the place
  • For photobook lovers, enjoy the sweet nude of "Subaru" (which is the Japanese name for the Pleadies, not just a car company), the delightfully erotic photobook of Nozomi Fujikawa, and more
  • Also, a superb photobook featuring the "large breast and beautiful leg" of ten top AV gals, including Nao Oikawa, Ami Ayukawa, Maria Yumeno and Bunko Kanazawa
  • Yulia Nova fans really let us know of their love for the popular Russian nude idol this week -- now we've added some new merchandise, two cute Yulia tote bags and a printed ceramic photo tile that's "signed" by Yulia
  • For hentai manga fans, we've got a great new selection of adult comics, including a superb large-breast manga by Yukio Shijima, the cute little Devil Daughters, Lewd Play Machine, and more
  • Also, a major restocking of popular adult comics, including Nami SOS, Tears from the Hell, Pururun Sisters, Drop Dead Sisters, and the very popular dick girl extravaganza "Tousaku - Delusion" by Gura Nyuto
  • We've restocked several popular vibrators and other adult toys, including all sizes of the Japan Rotor (the most popular vibrator with Japanese women), Mr. Pink, and the Magical Mitten
  • Also, we've got fresh stock of super erotic Hitomi Hayasaka Love Pillow (aka Dutch Wife), and the slipper and fun Japanese Soapland Kit
  • For our DVD customers, enjoy a 3-hour collection of the great hardcore sex of the new AV star "EL," with three complete video releases compiled onto one bargain-priced DVD for you (region free)
  • From Soft on Demand, a great new "Kiss Battle Royale" featuring AD Haruna, the lesbian assistant director who performs "lesbian kiss and fack" on ten of Japan's most beautiful professional AV starlets (region free)
  • For fans of our popular SOD Outlet page, we've got not one but two great DVDs in the Private Venus series -- see the lovely and erotic Juri Wakabayashi perform sweet idol frolicking and hardcore sex by the sea (region free)
  • For fans of the bold indies erotica of Wanz Factory, enjoy a great "best selection" offering" with the sexiest and slinkiest leg, stocking and panty fetish you've ever dreamed of (region 2)
  • Finally enjoy fresh stock of several popular titles, including Ryoko Mitake's "Taboo," Aoi Sora's very erotic "Illegality Violate Tits," and more copies of the popular "The Lingerie vol. 1."

Remember that J-List carries authentic Japanese "loose socks" in two different sizes, and also carries "socks glue" which you can use to glue your socks to your legs to hold them up. Worn by virtually all Japanese high school girls (except those who go to strict schools where they are forbidden), they are similar to the leg warmers worn in the 1980s in the U.S., and look great when bunched up just so. Enjoy a little slice of Japanese fashion culture courtesy of J-List -- they also go great with the authentic high school uniforms we sell, too! Great for cosplay at anime cons.

On the "odd things Japanese come up with" front, we've got an interesting tutorial on rope bondage. See it here: http://www.flabber.nl/img/bondage.how-to.jpg

Monday, August 18, 2003

Greetings from J-List August 18, 2003

Hello again from your friends in Japan!

Things have really changed in Japan in the last twelve years or so that I've been living here. When I came to Japan, the effects of the Japanese bubble economy were still to be seen everywhere, and it was not hard to find expensive melons that cost $30 (they're very expensive because you give them to others as gifts), or shops with three times as many employees as customers. I also used to pay $35 for a haircut, but oh, what a haircut it was. Over the course of about two hours, I sat in a comfortable barber's chair, getting my hair carefully cut to perfection. My face was steamed with hot towels twice, shaved with aloe, and steamed again. My ear lobes were carefully shaved, and ear and nose hair deftly removed by the pretty and professional woman doing my haircut, and after that, I got a full massage. It was great. Now Japan's economy has cooled, and I find myself going to a less expensive establishments, paying around $10 for a "cut only." It's cheaper, but a lot less fun.

Employment in Japan is very different from in the U.S. When J-List goes to hire Japanese staff members, we first call up the local Hello Work (that's what the local employee office is called) to see if they've got anyone in their lists with the skills we need. We also run advertisements in the newspapers, and also in some weekly "employment journals" that are published in each Japanese city. When candidates come for their interviews, they always bring a filled-out Japanese "rireki-sho" or standardized resume form, which has spaces for writing all pertinent information about education, job experience, interests, and of course, blood type. Resumes like those used in America aren't used in Japan at all -- you just fill out the standardized form and stick your photograph to the proper area. In the past, Japan allowed companies to list jobs for "women" and "men," and of course statements that only applicants under the age of 30 would be considered were commonplace. However, this practice has become illegal, an example of Japan taking America's lead in workplace law.

When Western couples are going to have a baby, they might consult a book of names, which presents a list of possible names for boys and girls along with the etymology of each name is, and so on. Japanese have similar books, but it's a bit more complicated, as there are "lucky" and "unlucky" names depending on which kanji you choose. My son was to be named Kazuma, which is "kazu" (peace) and "ma" (horse), but my wife consulted a family's Buddhist priest, who warned us that names with animal kanji in them were bad luck and would result in an unhappy life for the child. So we changed it to Kazuki, which is "kazu" (peace) and "ki" (a kanji for tree), which is much luckier. The number of strokes in a name is also important in Japan. When we named our daughter Rina, we chose the name partially because it has the exact same number of strokes as my wife's name, another lucky sign. (To see the characters for "Kazuma" and "Kazuki," see this link: http://www.jlist.com/kazuki.jpg) Incidentally, the Western custom of naming a son after the father is never done in Japan (except for Lupin III, who is really half-French, half-Japanese, so he doesn't count).

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

  • First, for Godzilla fans, we've got the new Godzilla vs. Mecha Godzilla, a superb film from 2002 that features the best action and special effects so far, with many story elements taken from the original 1954 version (region 2, Japanese only)
  • We've been anime fans for quite a while at J-List and have fond memories of St. Seiya, the classic anime and manga from the 1980s -- and we're happy to report that we've got full sets of a great new miniature figure set in stock for you! As always, we go out of our way to make sure full sets are available to you, with no duplicates
  • For Kitty fans, we've got some great items you can't get outside of Japan, including a Kitty payphone that looks like the real ones they have here (this one is a coin bank though), and cute "Kitty Fruit Mascots" that you will die for
  • For fans of the super-kawaii "nyanko (meow-child) restaurant," super cute plush kitties wrapped in Japanese foods
  • For fans of delicious snacks and food from Japan, enjoy some new items, including Baked Chestnut Toppo, delicious rice crackers from Hokkaido, gummi candy that tastes like topical fruits, and soup that goes great with sushi
  • If you love the beautiful artwork of Amano Yoshitaka, creator of some of the best art in Japan including the Vampire Hunter D,
  • For fans of lovely photobooks, check out Megumi Fukushita's first photobook, very cute and sexy in her swimsuit
  • Do you like traditional Japanese things? We've got some great items for you, including a new Japanese noren curtain, real bamboo chopsticks, and a cool new incense burner from Japan
  • Also, we've gotten in some cool new Japanese tatami sandals, aka "zori," which are really cool and very authentically Japanese
  • We've got some cool restocked Domo-kun items, including the mini PVC keychain of Domo-kun and Usajiii
  • Also, we've restocked some cool Totoro items, including PVC keychains featuring Mei and various sizes of Totoros
  • Also, enjoy the delicious Japanese drink of summer, mugi (barley) tea, a great taste that is very healthy too
  • Finally, look for fun things for your car, delicious Japanese diet tea, fresh stock of Japanese stamps, new items for fans of "The Dog" and more!

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

  • For fans of quality adult magazines from Japan, we've got the new issues of Best Video and Video Boy, both packed with top AV stars from Japan
  • Then, for those who want erotic love in their sex, enjoy the new issue Be Gentle With Me, which features really beautiful girls making love
  • For photobook fans, we've got some great hardcover nude photobooks from Japan including Yuki Maioka's "Fruit of the Breast" offering, or the lovely nude of Keiko Kubo
  • Also, check out the great nude photobook of Madoka Ozawa, one of the most popular bad girls of Japan's adult vide world for the past ten years
  • Then for hentai manga fans, we've got some great new wide manga, such as Fantasy SP, an anthology of wonderful fantasy-themed erotic artwork, and Bondage School, featuring fantastic bondage artwork
  • August is doujinshi month, since the summer Comic Market has come and gone, and we've got doujinshi for you! Enjoy a great DOA doujinshi by Fujio Okamoto and a super fun One Piece hentai doujinshi for you
  • Yaoi fans should enjoy the new issue of Grand Slam, the yaoi parody of Prince of Tennis that collects great yaoi stories for you
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great new items for you, starting with a new Masterpiece Concentration series featuring beautiful AV girls doing it out in the open air (region free)
  • Then see a great collection of some of the best lesbian action ever, with 4 hours of material at a special price (region free)
  • Then see the erotic kiss and sex of Masumi Mako, a wonderful and very sexually charged AV gal from Japan (region free)
  • Then, enjoy the bukkake and hardcore sex of Riho Nanase, a superb and erotic indies idol with many fans (region free)
  • Finally, look for various restocked and reduced price DVD items, including Tongues of Magic (all tongue-fetish), Zenra (all-nude) DVDs, bukkake DVDs, 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.