Saturday, December 27, 2003

Greetings from J-List December 27, 2003

Hello again from all of us at J-List!

Everyone is getting ready for 2003 to wind down. In Japan, one of the year-end traditions is "oh-souji" or Big Cleaning -- cleaning your home from top to bottom so you can get a fresh start on the new year. Today the J-List staff put their other work on hold and gave J-List a thorough cleaning, pulling out all computer wires and wiping away the past year's worth of dust and dirt everywhere. It felt great to take stock of everything while we cleaned, and now everything is spic and span. We're ready for the new year! Japanese also buy new toothbrushes so they can start the year extra fresh and clean.

One of the big changes to take place during the decade-long Japanese recession has been the de-Japanification of several industries as foreign companies innovated their way into Japanese markets. Toys R Us has wrought massive changes in the domestic toy industry here, Mazda is mostly owned by Ford, and Nissan has a gaijin president -- the widely respected Charles Ghosn, who has worked miracles with the formerly-bloated company. One way foreign companies have found success is by actively going against accepted norms in Japan, a place where companies seem to compete by trying to be as similar to other companies in their industry as possible. Starbucks, for example, has done well in Japan by not changing the format that worked for them in the U.S. Here, for example, Starbucks employees greet you informally ("konnichiwa") instead of using the more stiff greeting usually reserved for customers in retail shops ("irasshaimase"). Japanese probably felt odd being greeted in a friendly manner the first time they go into a Starbucks, something that just isn't done here, but after a while it started feeling warm and pleasant to them. Toys R Us also brought the concept of pricing products at 999 yen instead of 1000 yen, which was never done here before they entered the toy market (companies always set prices so that they'd be in nice, even numbers when tax was added).

One unique aspect of Japan are the "love hotels" that pop up here and there throughout the country. Because Japanese young people usually live with their parents into their 20s (or indefinitely, if they're the oldest son or daughter), it can be difficult for couples to find time for privacy. So they go to a love hotel, where they can enjoy "rest" (2 hours of privacy) or "stay" (all night). Formerly known as "motels," which causes some confusion when Japanese go to the U.S. and see motels there, the rooms inside love hotels have everything couples might need -- exotic baths, romantic beds, toothbrushes, even a condom on the pillow (although Tomo says it's dangerous to use this condom, as couples who used the room before might have poked a small hole in it for the next couple, as a joke). Many love hotels are organized around a theme, such as the Queen Elizabeth (a giant hotel that looks like a ship) that happens to sit in the middle of our own city, or rooms that look like the Forbidden City in Beijing. The most famous love hotel in Gunma is called The Rock, and everything in the rooms is based on Alcatraz -- but it's so popular, you have to wait outside for hours to get in. Another popular hotel in Tokyo is a haunted house -- while couples go to their rooms, dozens of scary things jump out at them to scare them. Since couples going to a hotel want privacy, the hotels make sure they never need to see anyone -- at some places, you can check out by phone, and put your money in a tube that will be delivered to the front desk.

J-List still has a huge number of beautiful 2004 poster calendars in stock, even after selling hundreds of our popular large-format calendars this Christmas season. If you're looking for a unique piece of Japan to put on your wall, we recommend you check out the amazing calendars we've still got left -- more than 90 fantastic JPOP, anime, contemporary and classic Japanese art, photographic and other calendars. We've slashed prices on these unique calendars, allowing you to get a fantastic deal on something that won't be available ever again. Enjoy a very special year with a beautiful Japanese calendar -- or four!

For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you, including fresh stock of dozens of really cool items, from Groomy plushes to Japanese snacks and more. J-List currently has more than 2300 individual products in stock for you, from cool toys to rare anime items to unique character goods. Please come by and see all the great products we've got for you!

Remember that for the rest of 2003, J-List is having a special $1 shipping sale on all Japanese bishoujo games, e.g. the English-translated dating-sim games for Windows PCs. Awareness of these interactive dating-sim games has really blossomed in the past year or two, and we now have more than 40 different full bishoujo games and related hentai CD-ROM products in stock for you. Remember, order 4 or more and get 20% off the total, in addition to the $1 shipping sale. All products ship daily from San Diego.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Greetings from J-List December 26, 2003

Hello again from all your friends at J-List!

In my general overview of the Japanese language and collection of advice for anyone interested in learning Japanese, one thing I touch upon is "find what floats your boat"-- to find interests that relate to Japanese which help move you forward a little bit each day. Learning Japanese is incredibly difficult, so you need hobbies and interests related to Japanese in order to succeed. I got a lot out of reading Japanese manga, such as Touch (a famous baseball comic), Fist of the North Star, and Orange Road. Reading manga for enjoyment really helped teach me a lot, and gave me a constant stream of new vocabulary words. I also learned that karaoke was a fun way to learn Japanese, and I memorized several songs to sing at karaoke bars and restaurants in San Diego. Japanese always love it when foreigners sing songs in Japanese, so I got a lot of positive feedback, too. I've seen friends get into Japanese through martial arts, and leaning Japanese by playing RPGs in the original language is another interesting hobby to have. To see my general advice for anyone wanting to learn Japanese, see my personal homepage at http://www.peterpayne.net .

I remember reading through old Saint Seiya manga, while in college in the 80's, and wondering why they always write the blood type of each character along with their name, age and astrological sign. In Japan, it's believed that you can tell a lot about a person's personality and character traits from his blood type. Type A people are neat, tidy, and plan things meticulously, almost to a fault. Type B are "going my way" (as the Japanese say), meaning that they do their own thing without worrying about the opinions of others, and don't plan things out in advance. They can be messy, and tend to act on impulse (I am type B, and my wife is always commenting on why do some things I do based on my blood type). Type O people have a private world inside their minds, supposedly, and they're quick to become passionate about something, but then change to something else just as easily. Type O people have the ability to lead others. Finally, AB people have "two faces," one that they make in front of some people and another one they keep to themselves. Like the various beliefs that are related to Buddhism (such as, you're not supposed to sleep with your pillow facing north, as this is reserved for the dead before cremation), the Japanese blood type beliefs are hard to get used to at first, but when you live in Japan long enough, you start thinking there might be something to them after all...

For the new update, our hardworking staff has posted many new items for you, including:

  • First, now that Christmas is behind us, it's time to think about New Year's, a very important holiday in Japan -- enjoy the authentic Japanese New Year's decorations we've posted today
  • For fans of anime on DVD, we've got the excellent Japanese DTS release of Akira, the famous anime film by Katsuhiro Otomo, with many extras and full English subtitles and dubbed tracks (region 2)
  • If you love Hello Kitty, look for several nice items, including great things for babies, a fun Kitty notebook, fun "puffy" stickers, and more
  • For fans of Lupin III, we've got a great line of Choro Q "super deformed" vehicles and characters that are just too cool
  • Also in the "very cool" department, new plush items by Sun Arrow, the high-quality toy maker that is the official licensor of Totoro toys -- the items we've posted today are extremely cool
  • We've got fresh stock of the best-selling Three-Colored Cat Mirror, a beautiful and very Japanese item for your room
  • The Hyper Godzilla sets are proving very popular, so we've posted some more sets for you today
  • Parody items are popular in Japan, products that parody other products. Look for some cute parody items in stock today
  • For lovers of Tokyo Mew Mew, the super cute show that out Sailor Moons Sailor Moon, we've got a high-quality Japanese pencil case with many pockets and features
  • If you're a Star Wars fans looking for something really cool, check out the Jango Fett soft vinyl figure we've got -- made by Kotobukiya and only for the Japanese market
  • Another really cool item, Heroes of the Sengoku Period, feature figures of real Japanese historic persons from Japan's "Country at War" period, really nice.
  • Finally, for fans of Japanese snacks, we've got new items, including delicious Japanese calcium snacks, Lotte "Ghana" chocolate, grape gummi treats that are fun to eat, a large restocking of Pocky and other popular treats we sell, and more!


Remember that J-List offers many magazines via subscription, including our best-selling subscriptions like Urecco, Bejean, Best Video, Video Boy, Gal's Dee and more. These are available by 6- or 12-month subscriptions, and you get 1 or 2 free issues with each subscription.

Also, Remember that J-List is the only place you can get the excellent and authentic high school uniforms from Matsukameya of Nagoya. These are extremely well made uniforms that are famous all over Japan, and they're just beautiful. They're not cheap, unfortunately, but we know that you will be totally satisfied with the high quality of Matsukameya's products.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Greetings from J-List December 24, 2003

Well, Christmas is upon us all -- another year older and hopefully wiser. Christmas is a bit different in Japan than it is in the U.S. It's mainly a fun time of year when Japanese have a Christmas Party with friends, complete with firecrackers, Christmas cake and a brightly decorated Christmas tree. No Christmas Party would be complete without a real live gaijin Santa Claus, dressed from head to toe in bright read "Santa wear." This year I was asked to play Santa by my daughter's English school, and I was happy to oblige, handing out gifts to all of them with a ho-ho-ho and being careful not to speak Japanese so as not to break the mood. Besides being a fun time for kids, Christmas in Japan is second only to Valentine's Day as a day for young lovers, and all across Japan tonight, boyfriends and girlfriends will be exchanging gifts. All of Japan's love hotels have been sold out for weeks.

With movies like The Last Samurai, Lost in Translation and Kill Bill, this certainly has been a year for Hollywood to reflect on Japan and its culture, and for a gaijin whose lived a third of his life here, it's been especially interesting. My wife and I went to see The Last Samurai the other night, and I was impressed by the polish and quality of the film. The writers wove together various real historical events into an entertaining fictional story, and they actually made an effort to avoid over-flowery crap words when dealing with the subject. The story of an American who comes to help train soldiers in Meiji Era Japan was completely fictional, but there was a foreigner who had a great effect on the political events of the day. A British diplomat named Ernest Satow, who was one of the top Japanese-bilingual foreigners of his age, was stationed in Japan during the tumultuous years before the Meiji Restoration. Taking an interest in the conflict between the Bakufu (Shogun's government) and regional warriors, he wrote in a letter stating that what the country needed to do was modernize and form a parliamentary constitutional government. His words were translated into Japanese and were widely read, and this became a rallying point for samurai like Saigou Takamori, on who the character in the Last Samurai was based, a close friend of Satow's. Saigou forced the Shogunate to return power to the Emperor and helped form the first Meiji government. He later rebelled against the rapid changes happening in Japan, and when the rebellion failed he committed seppuku. (We do still have some figures of Saigou Takamori and Matthew Perry in stock, if you want something really esoteric to display on your shelf.)

We've got a great Christmas gift for Yulia fans: announcing the debut of Yulia Nova on DVD! Yes, after a long wait, the first three Yulia Nova DVDs are available for her fans for preorder (estimated shipping March 2004). These discs are totally remastered and each features approx. 30 minutes of never-seen-before footage. Customers who preorder will get a real photograph of Yulia (while supplies last) and will also be entered in a raffle to win a T-shirt signed and worn by Yulia-chan.

Every hour, more of our popular anime, JPOP, idol and traditional photo calendars sell out and disappear from the J-List site. We've still got 100+ different calendars in stock for you, but many are down to their last stock. Several calendars that had been sold out have reappeared on the list, as orders which didn't go through are cancelled, so why not browse the calendars and see what you'd like to get before they're gone?

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

  • First, for anyone who loved the classic anime Uchu Senkan Yamato (Star Blazers), we have two very cool cold-cast statues of Yuki Mori (Nova), a really special item for fans of Leiji Matsumoto's classic
  • For fans of the delightful idols of Morning Musume, so hard to resist, we have a special photobook featuring great shots of these lovely girls
  • For Japanese snack fans, we've got some great items for you, including Nabisco chocolate-filled cookies, soft rice crackers, and a unique taste we all fell in love with: yudofu (boiled tofu) flavored pretzel sticks -- guaranteed to be something you've never had before
  • Also, we've made a major restocking of snack items, with Milk and Hot Chocolate Pretz, Potato Nori Shio Pretz, Poifull fruit jelly beans (yum!), Oreo Choco Sticks, and March of the Koalas back in stock for you
  • For bento fans, we have some great bargain-priced bento boxes that are great for anyone wanting to try authentic Japanese boxed lunch
  • For Hello Kitty fans, we've got a really fun hair dryer for kids, which they can really use to play beauty shop
  • We have an interesting way to hold your CD-Rs: a cute Usagi Label rabbit that securely holds them for you, a wacky item from Japan
  • If you love Japan's super cute JPOP idols Morning Musume, we've got limited stock of one of their most popular card series
  • Then check out the very cool temporary tattoos we've got in stock for you, with beautiful kanji designs that will make you look so cool
  • We've gotten in more wacky Japanese message pins, with funny designs and meaningless messages in Japanese -- also see fresh stock of several popular items
  • Studying Japanese? We've added stock of our J-E and E-J dictionaries, good for people who want a portable dictionary (and who already have some Japanese down)
  • We've stocked many cool toy items that were devastated by Christmas shoppers -- see the cool Panda Z toys, Bastard!! deluxe figures, and more
  • Also, fresh stock of popular Tomica die-cast replicas of Japanese cars, Japan Hot Wheels, and more
  • Finally, look for wacky Japanese erasers shaped like delicious food, a wacky item that could only come from Japan!

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

  • For fans of the stylish nude photography we've come to call "Girls in Underoos," we have the new issue of Smart Girls, a perfect bound photobook filled with the most stylish nude idols in Japan
  • Then enjoy the new issue of Bachelor, which presents beautiful, busty women from Japan, Russia, Eastern Europe, the U.S. and more
  • We've got some great erotic photobooks from Japan, including Mai Sato's first delightful photobook, which you will love
  • Then enjoy the First H (first sexual photographs) of Miri Hanai, a lovely new sexy idol from Japan
  • Also, we've got the very stylish sexy shots of lovely model Chika, shot in the American Southwest
  • See the eros of beautiful women of South America, photographed by famous Japanese photographer Meisa Fujishiro
  • For fans of Japan's erotic manga, we've got a super volley of new books for you, starting with the stylized devilry of Tatsuya Kamishima, Rintaro Mitsuki's ass-fetish manga offering, the lovely forbidden sex of Kitsune Yamano, and more
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great items for you, starting with a great erotic DVD by the super-buxom Marina Matsushima, the queen of breast-play in Japan (region free)
  • For fans of "sentai" or fighting TV shows like Power Rangers, we've got another erotic parody: Super Lightning Dangerin, starring the beautiful Mai Haruna as the erotic Defender of Justice (region free)
  • From Soft on Demand's Deep's label, enjoy the best tekoki (hetero hand job) fetish ever, with 20 "hand shake numbers" for you (region free)
  • Then see the Very Best Jukujo (mature women) Lesbian works from Total Media Agency, with 4 hours of seasoned, mature ladies getting it on big time (region free)
  • Then delight at the super-erotic adult star Alice Ogura in a great DVD that promises "3 deep hours of pure naughtiness and cuty" (region 2)
  • From Audaz Japan, the lovely Shuri Himesaki is your personal erotic secretary, fulfilling her duty with pleasure and professionalism (region 2)
  • We've got a big update of DVD titles for you too, including fresh stock of several of Aoi Sora's erotic DVDs, Mayu Koizumi having sex with 100 men in a 24 hour period, more great erotic Pro Wrestling, fresh stock of Masterpiece Concentration titles and more!

That's all for now. We sincerely wish all you the very warmest of holiday wishes from Japan! Merry Christmas from all of us at J-List!

Monday, December 22, 2003

Greetings from J-List December 22, 2003

Hello again from Japan, home of the Sharp Fappy, the Fax Machine that Makes you Happy.

Judo star Ryoko Tamura, who won the gold medal for judo at the Sydney Olympics, has walked the "virgin road" with -- i.e., she got married to -- baseball star Yoshitomo Tani, in a beautiful ceremony in Paris. Tamura, nicknamed Yarawa-chan after the 1980's judo manga and anime, is the darling of all Japan for her efforts to compete in judo in the world stage. The wedding reception, held on Saturday in Tokyo, was the biggest event in Japan's sports world in years, and the 2000+ member guest list was second only to Japan's end-of-year Kohaku television special in the number of top stars present. Anyone who was anyone was there, from retired sumo wrestler Takanohana to Tokyo Giants legend Shigeo Nagashima to father of modern enka Saburo Kitajima, each giving speeches wishing Yawara-chan all happiness. Japanese weddings are very structured affairs, with "aisatsu" (a long, drawn-out greeting speech) by representatives of the groom and the bride, many speeches or performances by friends, the bride and groom disappearing several times to change into beautiful new clothes, and at the end, a tear-filled speech by the bride to her parents, thanking them for raising her and promising to be happy with her new husband. While Japanese weddings often feature extravagant cakes that are just for show -- they're usually made of plastic -- Yawara-chan's wedding featured a giant cake shaped like the Earth that everyone got to eat.

I like to think back on what Japan was like when I first got here, in 1992. Although the Tokyo land bubble had officially burst two years before, the halo of Japan's long period of rapid economic growth still pervaded the country. Employment was high, and everyone had plenty of money to buy silly things like toilets that wash and dry your butt, complete with remote controls -- why anyone would need a remote control for a toilet seat I can't say, but I've seen them with my own eyes. There was actually too much employment here. I once went into an ice cream shop in Tokyo Disneyland to find no less than eleven employees, wiping down counters and ready to serve me eagerly, although I was the only customer in the store. It was a magical time, when companies could make profits without asking themselves hard questions about how they were serving their customers, and consumers consumed what was placed in front of them without any fuss. Gaijin living in Japan just took it for granted that a meal at McDonald's would cost $2-3 more than it would have cost in the U.S., and paid it.

How things have changed. In the old days, American companies complained about their inability to get a toehold in Japanese domestic market, but in the New Japan, industries from toys (Toys R Us) to beverages (Coca Cola has 90% of the cola market here) seem to march to the beat of U.S. companies. McDonald's Japan found itself in the red for the first time ever, and now works hard to give customers new choices, like the ability to substitute a salad for of french fries, and interesting new foods like shrimp & chicken mcnuggets. Most of the deflation going on in Japan is caused by increases in efficiency and competition as well as the desire by consumers to make smart choices and not pay too much for the things they need. Japanese still save a lot -- the average household has $110,000, usually in cash accounts bearing less than 1% interest -- but younger Japanese have gotten into the habit of going into debt, borrowing from high-interest loan companies like Acom, Lake and Aiful. When businesses in town go under, all too often they're replaced by more automated "cash machines" where anyone can get money from these companies at 30% interest. I don't like seeing these loan sharks put their gaudy signs all over my city, but they're better than some of the alternatives that are also flourishing in the New Japan, including pachinko parlors and men's establishments like pink salons and lingerie pubs.

For fans of Japan's interactive dating-sim games, we've got a great new addition for you: Virgin Roster, a dark and fascinating game of sexual lust from G-Collections. Faithfully translated into English and fully uncensored, this game is a great voyage to a world of eros. In stock and shipping now! Remember that we're having a great $1 shipping sale this month -- get any dating-sim game shipped to you for just $1 (US/Can.). Also, get 4 or more bishoujo games and get 20% off automatically. We think these multi-scenario, interactive games are a great way to touch a little piece of Japan, and we recommend them!

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

  • First, for of our unique Japanese snack products, we've got several new items, including black sesame rice crackers, traditional Japanese hard candy, tasty potato-and-mayonaise snacks and more
  • Fans of Hello Kitty, we've got a really cute Hello Kitty Bento Box, that's got lots of bizarre English on it
  • Medicom Toy is one of Japan's premier toy companies, known for the Kubrick and Be@rbrick toys -- now we've got a cool Bearbrick bath toy, an egg that dissolves in the bath, revealing a random toy inside
  • We have some interesting Buddhist beads from Japan, which can be used as prayer beads or worn fashionably
  • We love to promote the study of Japanese, and we carry various study aids -- we've restocked our popular kanji, 4-word, katakana and Japanese proverb dictionaries for you
  • For all those embarrassing moments when you don't have enough chopsticks, we've got some great long bamboo cooking chopsticks, as well as more fun disposable chopsticks with your fortune (in Japanese) inside the wrapping
  • We've also got a great hardcover photobook for fans of BoA, the fantastic (and beautiful) Korean singer who is so popular in Japan
  • Being from San Diego, I don't like the cold weather in Japan, and if you're the same, you can do what I do, and beat the cold with Japanese pocket warmers, which keep you toasty for up to 18 hours -- see fresh stock added today!
  • For anyone who loves Totoro, we've got a perfect stuffed Totoro from Sun Arrow, maker of quality toys for nearly a century
  • For fans of anime trading cards, we've got a new series of Sister Princess cards featuring great images from the popular bishoujo anime
  • Want something wacky in your room? We've got more metal plates with wacky messages on them
  • Finally, look for a Japanese way to separate egg white from yolks, fresh stock of various Domo-kun plush toys, and more!

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

  • For big breast fans, we have the brand new issue of Gal's Dee, featuring beautiful Japanese girls of "D" cup and larger
  • Then enjoy a very private time with Harumi Nemoto and her great "photomook" 3P, featuring some of the most erotic photographs ever released, shot by three different professional photographers
  • For fans of our bargain-priced Japanese magazines, we've got more great items at overstock prices, starting at just $5
  • For photobook collectors, we've got some great new items in for you, including the delightful hardcover photobook of Hiroko Sato
  • Next enjoy the delightful and erotic photobook offering of Yoko Kumada, the top sexy swimsuit idol in Japan today
  • Alice Ogura is a wonderful adult video idol, and you'll love her erotic photobook + softporn DVD
  • For hentai manga fans, we've got a fantastic large-format manga featuring the erotic artwork of Magaki Ryohota in a super deluxe format
  • Then enjoy other fabulous erotic comic offerings, including a superb erotic work from Tenma Comics and a superb "dick girl" manga from Sena Youtarou
  • We've also restocked various hentai manga, including Equation of the Immoral, the Ties that Bind, A Supper Drop, Michael Plan and more -- more yaoi manga in stock too!
  • For our erotic DVD customers, we've got some great items for you, starting with Mika Kitagawa's super Stars!! release -- 150 minutes of her smooth sex for a great price (region free)
  • For our adult DVD customers, we've got some great items for you, starting with a super Memorial DVD of Akira Watase, with 3 hours of the energetic and lively sex that has won her so many fans around the world (region free)
  • From Soft on Demand, a great sequel to the first "yaoi" release of Sayaka Kusunoki, a beautiful female AV idol who plays an effeminate boy having his first experiences in a mysterious world (region free)
  • Then enjoy the erotic all "tekoki" (female to male handjob) fetishism of the Tekoki Clinic, vol. 3, a great treat for fans of the Japanese fetish (region free)
  • Then see the superb lesbian sex of Aki Tomosaki and Mayumi Kusunoki, in a great release from Big Morkal (region free)
  • Then, delight in the erotic bukkake works of Waap Entertainment, with a DVD that features the best of their 5 years as one of Japan's premier indies adult video studios (region 2).
    Finally, we've got a big selection of restocked items, including Miki Komori's erotic Straddle, Gymnastics Girls, Beauty Legs of Office Ladies, The Leg Best Beautiful 4 Hours, great Tekoki and Oral Sex, and more!

J-List carries over 2000 unique products from Japan, from full sets of cool miniature toys from Japan, to unique Totoro and Hello Kitty products to cool Shirow Masamune collectibles, we've got something for everyone. But there's one reality about Japan: although you may have heard that Japanese businessmen are long-range thinkers, in reality virtually all of the products we sell have very limited production runs. Most items can't be ordered through our distributors once the initial stock is gone, which invariably causes frustration for customers who waited to get the item they wanted. Our advice is when you see something cool on our site, get it before it disappears. Similarly, we're always closing out our popular wacky Japanese T-shirts so that we can make room for new designs. If you've got your eye on a T-shirt or three, don't wait to get them!