Friday, September 05, 2003

Greetings from J-List September 5, 2003

Hello and TGIF from Japan!

Although you may think of certain foods as sushi, sashimi, tempura and sukiyaki as popular Japanese dishes, the national food of Japan has got to be curry, or as the Japanese call it, curry rice. Curry spread to Britain during the 1700s and from there went all around the world. In Japan, curry is eaten on steamed white rice, and became popular at the start of the 20th century -- and now it's eaten more than any other kind of food. Japanese curry is thicker than the soup-like Indian curry, and many companies here compete to make the best blend of curry to appeal to consumers, making products with names like House The Curry, Vermont Curry, and Java Curry. Although Thai food is quite popular in parts of America, it's not very common here in Japan -- but Indian restaurants are always seem to be packed.

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, too, to give students goals to attempt and clear as they progress in learning the sport. 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. I think the test is a great way for anyone studying Japanese to set a goal to work towards each year. For information on the Nihongo Noryoku Shiken, see http://www.jpf.org.au/slc/proficiency/proficiency.htm

We love the popularity our wacky Japanese T-shirts have enjoyed with J-List customers. In addition to the standard men's size T-shirts we carry in all sizes (S through 3XL), which are all printed in the U.S. on 100% cotton, standard-size shirts, we also have some great fitted baby doll T's for girls. One design we think is really cool is "Koguaru" (kogal), a tribute to Japan's spoiled bad girls, who dress so fashionably and who would never be seen without their keitai (portable phones). We've added a great new color of Koguaru shirt, allow you to choose between three great colors. See all our shirts on the site now!

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

  • First, for fans of Hayao Miyazaki's films, we've got some great new items for you, including a Castle in the Sky Laputa deck of cards that's beautifully printed and a deluxe set of fabulous handmade Totoro stamps
  • For fans of our unique Japanese snacks, we've got some new varieties, including seaweed and potato flavored pretzel sticks (they're good!), Japanese custard cookies, chicken in a can and Japanese-style worcester sauce
  • Also, fresh stock of several delicious treats from Japan including Gummi Sushi (fruit-flavored sushi on marshmallow rice), Wata-Pachi (exploding pop rocks inside cotton candy), March of the Koalas chocolate-filled cookies and more
  • We love to find cool Japanese toys for you, and one of our favorite series are the Kubrick toys by Medicom Factory -- see the fun Ponkikies bizarre toys we've got in stock for you, with full sets available!
  • Got small electronics you want to protect? We've got some very handy soft foam cases that will protect just about anything from your iPod to a PDA and more
  • For Hello Kitty fans, we've got some great new items, including a plush tissue box cover that will Kittify any living room, and cute Kitty reflective bracelets that are stylish and cute
  • Another thing we love to sell are the very detailed die-cast Tomica cars -- see two cool colors of Mazda's RX-8, very cool!
  • To beat the summer heat, why not get a folding fan in Ayumi Hamasaki-style leopard skin?
  • We love Japanese bikini models, and one of our favorites is the lovely Megumi -- see a new photo magazine dedicated to this lovely girl
  • Also, look for a great photobook featuring Hikaru Kawamura, the famous idol and Race Queen
  • For fans of extremely cool miniature toys from Japan, we've got fresh stock of the Amazing Weapons series, featuring bizarre weapons invented during World War II (w/ full sets in stock)
  • Also, fresh stock of the popular Japanese Summer Festival miniature series, so very cool
  • For fans of high-quality anime statues from Japan, we've got a positively dynamite 1/6 scale pre-painted statue of Morrigan from Vampire Saviour, which stands a massive 13 inches high and is incredibly beautiful to behold
  • For our female customers, we've added a cute new color of "Koguaru" (Kogal) T-shirts in a great fitted style that will make you look great -- a super item for girls who want to show off sexy
  • Finally, sleep well with "minus ion" sheets for your pillow, more sushi makers and bento related items, cute Hello Kitty plastic bags, more funny Japanese signs, unique Japanese ear cleaners, and more!

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

  • For fans of amateur sex in love hotels, we've got the new issues of "I'll Give Myself to You" and the perfect-bound issue of "I Want You To Look At Me" (love those Japanese names)
  • Also, we've got the new issue of DVD Explosion 10 Hours, a great color magazine that features two 5-hour DVDs with a whopping ten hours of great sexual samples and quickies (region free)
  • If you love big, glossy Japanese photobooks featuring beautiful women, why not check out the new photobook of Kyoko Fujikawa
  • Also, we've got other great photobooks, including a selection of nudes by real "soap girls" who work in Japanese soaplands, where a man can get a pretty girl to wash his body
  • For hentai manga fans, we've got some great new works for fans of bukkake, nurse fetish, dick girl and other classic erotic Japanese themes
  • If you love dick girl and hentai game girl themes, we've got a great item for you: a new CG collection from Rebis, the "Androgynous ONLY circle," featuring extreme hentai artwork of your favorite video game gals
  • For yaoi fans, we've got a new story of the exploration of love between friends, as well as fresh stock of several popular yaoi works
  • For our DVD customers, rejoice: Aoi Sora stars in a great new release of the Contrary Soap Heaven series, in which beautiful AV idols go to be serviced by men instead of the other way around (region free)
  • Then from SOD, enjoy a fun "penis study" release in which four beautiful rich girls study the male member in front of the camera (region free)
  • From SOD's Chujitsudoh ("Hall of Sincerity"), we have a superb selection of bukkake and sweet sex featuring Mio Asakura (region free)
  • Then for fans of the Soft on Demand Outlet, where you can find older titles at great prices, we've got the delicious seaside sex of Ruri Ayase, in her Virtual Venus release (region free)
  • Then from Moodyz, we've got a great new bukkake with four delightfully erotic chijo (slut fetish), who explore bukkake and lesbian sex and more (region 2)
  • Then enjoy a beautiful Dream Shower release featuring Nao-chan, the hot new indies AV star who's growing in popularity because she's so beautiful (region 2)
  • Finally, we've added fresh stock of several popular DVDs, including cat right (girls slapping the shit out of each other), lesbian titles, black men and Japanese girl fetish, and more great titles by Asuka Sawaguchi, the clean sex idol from Japan.

Remember that J-List carries great collections of CG images from famous Japanese doujin-soft artists, who publish CD-ROMs of their computer artwork in lieu of comic-book format doujinshi. We especially love the Creamy Angel series, which features excellent hentai artwork with famous and original characters, as well as Dream World 2, featuring beautiful erotic images based on Evangelion. All art is uncensored, and images are included in full size so you can print them out, use them as desktop wallpaper, and more.

Also 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 (imagine!). 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 a wonderful pop culture icon. Why not get a few, and give them out as gifts? (If you get 3 or more you get a 15% discount through the J-List shopping cart.) We're down to a few hundred of these left, so whether they will be in stock or not by Christmas is very doubtful.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Greetings from J-List September 3, 2003

Hello again from Japan, where an athlete is a "sportsman," a still photographer is a "cameraman" and an employee at a company is a "salaryman."

Well, I'm safely back in Japan after an eventless 14 hour flight. I had to give up the extra day I'd gotten for free when going to the U.S., and jumped from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon in a single plane ride. Happily, jet lag is not too bad coming back to Japan, since you arrive more or less at bedtime and can get to sleep right away.

One of my favorite things about Japan are public baths and hot springs, and I take my kids to the bath at least a couple times per week. Public baths (sento) are a holdover from the old days when people didn't have baths in their homes, and had to go to a community bathing place. There are usually several different kinds of baths, including herbal baths, very hot baths, jet baths, and quite often an electric bath, which carries a low electric current. There's usually a sauna and a cold bath, too, to cool off if you get too hot. Hot springs are also very popular in Japan, and there are famous towns throughout the country where people come just to take a bath in the volcanically heated water. Japan is often known for having baths in which men and women bathe together, but this is actually very rare -- I've only found a mixed-bath once in all my years living in Japan. More common are "family baths" where a family can reserve a large bath for an hour and bathe together. Westerners are sometimes a little shy about getting naked in front of twenty other men, but no one thinks anything of it here in Japan. However, one thing that can be embarrassing is when you go to a bath which is cleaned by women, who come into the men's bath or sauna to take away old towels or straighten the buckets up. It's a little unnerving to have a group of women descend on you while you're naked in a bath, although like all things, you can get used to it. Public baths frown on customers with full-body tattoos (which in Japan means yakuza, Japan's mafia), so there are always signs informing customers "you can't take a bath with your tattoo." We liked these signs so much, we immortalized them on an original J-List T-shirt.

Beer is the preferred drink for Japanese after a hard day of work, and the Japanese beer market is always a busy place, with market leader Kirin defending strong challenges by Asahi and Japan's smaller breweries. The market has undergone many changes since the emergence of happo-shu, a low-malt beverage that tastes like beer but technically not beer. Because the taxes on happo-shu are much lower than on beer, it's much cheaper for consumers, and this has sparked a price war that has brought the prices of virtually all alcoholic beverages down to as much as half what they were a few years ago, contributing to Japan's ongoing problem of deflation. Every few months a new "limited" beer is released, like Sapporo's "A Winter's Tale" beer (sold only in the winter) or Kirin's "Sakura Beer" (supposedly brewed specially for enjoying flower-viewing in the spring). Now that Autumn is starting to show its face, the limited-edition Aki-Aji (Taste of Autumn) beers have started to appear in stores.

We're great fans of the films of Hayao Miyazaki, the most famous creator of animation in Japan, and we've had the honor of bringing many hundreds of cool Studio Ghibli toys, books, and DVDs to our customers. We're extremely happy to announce the preorder availability of the DVD release of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Three different sets will be released: the 2-disc DVD complete with English subtitles and many extras; a figure set, which includes a limited-edition figure of Nausicaa; and a deluxe collector's set which adds a replica of an Ohmu insect and a beautiful painting by Mr. Miyazaki. The last time Studio Ghibli released limited-edition sets like this, we had over a hundred people clamoring to buy the last Laputa boxed sets we had, so we recommend that you get your order in early if you want one of the limited sets. Both of the limited sets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis in case not enough are available. The figure + DVD set is already sold out throughout Japan, so we expect it to be especially hard to stock.

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

  • First, for fans of Gamera and other classic Japanese monsters, we've got a cool series of candy toys (Japanese figures that come with candy) recreating the best moments of the Gamera universe -- very cool!
  • Also, for those who love Domo-kun, we have a deluxe phone strap (also useful as a key holder or camera strap) of Domo-kun and his TV set (watching NHK, of course).
  • If you love Totoro, we've got some very unique and special hand-made plush toys that are crafted from chirimen, the fabric kimonos are made from
  • For bento fans, we've got two great new bento sets, which feature everything you need to enjoy authentic Japanese boxed lunch, just like they do in anime'
  • Also, enjoy cold drinks with you wherever you go with a 1.5 liter PET bottle cooler, great for picnics with your bento
  • For fans of beautiful Japanese idols, enjoy the photobook of Manami Ozawa, a sweet and pretty swimsuit idol from Japan who you will want to protect and love
  • Then, we've got some unique new Japanese snacks for you, including onion soup, delicious doria sauce, Curl brand potato sticks, and frozen matcha ice that's very tasty
  • For fans of cool DVDs from Japan, we've restocked the excellent 2-disc release of My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, which feature many extras from Mr. Miyazaki, as well as Samurai Fiction, OH! Mikey vol. 1, and more (all region 2)
  • Bamboo is the best material for making chopsticks, and we've got some great extra-long chopsticks for you, with special ends that keep food from slipping -- great for cooking or eating
  • Japanese minty eyedrops wake you up and keep you alert, and they're very popular all over the world -- see fresh stock of several brands added today
  • For Hello Kitty fans, we've got some nice items, including a handy Kitty mesh holder that you can use to store anything in, as well as freshly restocked Kitty items
  • If you love the miniature Japanese food toys, including famous desserts and traditional Japanese foods, we've restocked both on the site now (full sets are available too)
  • For anime fans, see the cool Jiji Pencil Case and Nausica/Laputa Fox Squirrel plush toys from Sun Arrow
  • Also, we've added fresh stock of several of the popular Hot Wheels toys, including the Speed Racer Mach 5, the Delorean from Back to the Future I and III, and more
  • For those who like wacky Japanese around them, we've got some cute new Japanese sign plates for you
  • Finally, find wacky Japanese notebooks with funny English on them, more furikake to sprinkle over your rice and miso soup, delicious Shike-Kix "hard gummi" candy, useful things for your room, and more!

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

  • For fans of hardcore magazines from Japan, we've got the new issue of Do-Up!, which always shows you great sex by couples in love hotels
  • Also, we've got the new issue of Yo!, which features dozens of Japanese amateurs and kogals getting it on for the camera
  • For fans of married women, which is a big fetish in Japan, we've got the new Bizuma Hacker, featuring beautiful mature women aged 23-32
  • For photobook fans, enjoy the beautiful body of Aki Hoshino, who poses in a super cute see-through school uniform for you, and a superb hardcover photobook by Haruka Nishimoto, a beautiful nude idol from Japan
  • For manga collectors from Japan, we've got some excellent new titles for you, including The Fleshy Toilet of the Female Teacher, Inui Sekihiko's incredible kemono manga Fiesta, the incredible Temptation hentai manga by Keppi, and many more
  • Also, for yaoi fans, check out the new erotic comic by Hanko Kagurazaka about male/male love in the workplace
  • For DVD fans, we've got some great items for you, starting with a great bukkake work by the famous Kazuhiko Matsumoto, the AV director who single-handedly invented the category of bukkake in the 1990's -- his great new work is "totally fresh for you" (region free)
  • Then enjoy the sex of office lady sex in a new work from Soft on Demand -- see the prim and proper female office workers (OLs) get it on after hours (region free)
  • Then enjoy the excellent lesbian kissing fetish of SOD's Martian Devil label, with superb lesbian kissing, sex and more (region free)
  • Then, enjoy superb "hip & leg" with a panty stocking club, featuring great leg, panty and panty stocking-fetish, from Waap Entertainment (region 2)
  • Then, also from Waap, enjoy the "private face and sexual habit" of the beautiful natural gokkun girl, Nao, who cheerfully accepts bukkake from dozens of men (region 2)
  • Finally ,we have some great new DVD titles for you, including various new Deep's and SOD titles, fresh stock of Aoi Sora's hardcore DVDs, and more!

J-List loves the DVD video format, and we stock over 800 DVD titles from Japan for you. While most of the adult DVDs from Japan are region free (meaning you can play them in any DVD player), anime and some high-end indies titles are zoned for region 2 only (including the new Nausica DVD release, mentioned above). To view these discs, we recommend a region free DVD player, such as the two we sell: the portable size Lasonic DVB-8092, and the full-featured Cybrhome DVD CH-500 deluxe player. Both players play DVDs from anywhere in the world, including PAL discs, MP3 and music CDs, CD-R and DVD-R media, and Video CDs. They also offer "set and forget" region free operation -- just access the secret menu with the remote control and the player is ready to go, forever. Also, we've lowered the price of the Lasonic player to just $98, making this an incredible deal, too!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Greetings from J-List September 1, 2003

Hello again from J-List!

The show has come to an end and Yasu and I are very tired. We've had a great time at BAAF, and also enjoyed seeing the sights of New York, but now it's time to go home. Tomorrow I leave for Japan, laden with many omiyage (oh-MI-ya-gay) for J-List staff and family. Yasu is going to take a few days off to visit Philadelphia, where he attended university, since he's in the neighborhood. We met a lot of great people at the convention, including many J-List customers who came by to say hello. Thanks to everyone!

Studying the names of Japanese companies can be interesting. For example, I'll bet you never knew that Kyocera is short for "Kyoto Ceramics." The number one car company in Japan is Toyota, which is located in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture (near Nagoya) -- but the company came first, and the city changed its name later because the company was based there. The number two Japanese car company is Honda, founded by Soichiro Honda to make motorcycles after the end of World War II. Mazda, which is largely owned by Ford, is really called Matsuda in Japan. Datsun's name has an interesting story -- DAT were the first letters of the names of three founders, and they considered the company they were founding to be their son, thus DATSON. However, "son" (with a long vowel, so that it rhymes with bone), means "loss" or "disadvantage" in Japanese, so they changed it to "sun," a much more cheerful word. Datsun was later bought out by one of its distributors, Nissan (which means "Made in Japan"). Several Japanese companies grew out of Japan's "zaibatsu" (trade cartels) which had existed for hundreds of years, the three biggest being Mitsubishi, Mitsui, and Sumitomo.

Although Sumo wrestling is the official national sport of Japan, receiving special status from the Japanese government, the hearts of Japanese sports fans belongs to good old American baseball. There are twelve teams in Japan, organized into the central and pacific leagues. Teams often carry the names of the companies that own them, such as Yomiuri Giants (owned by the Yomiuri Newspaper Company), the Seibu Lions (Seibu is a department store that has a big sale when their team wins), and Yakult Swallows (Yakult is a popular yogurt drink). The strongest team in Japanese baseball is the Giants, which was led by the most famous man in Japanese baseball history, Shigeo Nagashima, until he retired in 2001. If you go to a Japanese baseball game, you might be surprised to see how organized the fans are. At Swallows games, fans bring a blue umbrella and do a traditional dance called the Tokyo Ondo at the bottom of the 7th inning. At Tigers games in Osaka, fans blow up balloons and release them into the air at the same time, also at the bottom of the 7th. Japanese teams hire foreigners (usually scouted from minor leagues in the U.S.) to help their teams, but they're only allowed to play two foreigners in any game, a limit that maintains the "Japaneseness" of the sport here. Although Baseball was imported from the USA, it was considered "unpatriotic" to use English during World War II. As a result, virtually all the terms used in baseball are written with archaic kanji derivatives (i.e. "one death" in place of "one out"), although the English words are also used when speaking the terms out loud.

For the big new update, the J-List staff has added dozens of great new products to the site for you. They include wacky Buddhist prayer beads that you can wear, cool Hello Kitty items including Kitty calculators, more Totoro stamps, more snacks and food items, cool Dragonball figures, Japanese cute erasers that look like fruits, the rare Macross 1/48 scale Max Jenius version fighter, and more wacky items from Japan. For adult customers, we have many new products on the site, too. Please see them if you are over 18.

J-List carries over 2000 unique products from Japan, a lot of products for you to check out. You can always view all products using the handy "view all products" link in the upper left hand corner of every page. All products are displayed, with the most recently added or updated products showing at the top, cascading down in order. It's a great way to check out everything that's new at J-List!