Thursday, January 01, 2004

Greetings from J-List January 1, 2004

"Akemashite omedetou" from all of us in Japan, where convertibles are known as open cars.

Before starting J-List in 1996, I taught English as a Second Language to Japanese students, usually children or high school kids. I had quite an extensive collection of ESL textbooks, vocabulary cards, and various games I would play in class. One such game was "English baseball" in which teams of students would get "hits" if they answered questions using English. Another is the popular Japanese game "fruits basket" in which you put, say, ten chairs in a circle and put one child in each chair, with one more standing in the center. This child must ask a question like "Do you like bananas?" and all kids who like bananas must change seats as quickly as they can. The one left in the center is "it" and must ask the next question to the group. I recently found another great tool for learning English, which I discovered with my kids: Mad Libs, the classic zany word game. My kids love to make up Mad Libs, and it makes them apply their language and vocabulary skills in ways that are amazingly effective. They're kids, so they have a tendency to want to choose words like "stinky underpants" but it's still a lot of laughs, and it helps their English.

If you're going to travel to Japan, you'd better bring your suitscase, and make sure you wear a clean shirts and a nice suits. My favorite sports is soccer, and my favorite anime show (and children's game) is Fruits Basket. Sound odd? For some inexplicable reason of Japanese phonetics, some English words are imported into Japanese in their plural forms. The word for a suit in Japanese is "suits," even though you may only be talking about one suit, and a can of fruit juice is "fruits juice." Japanese don't mind these words, although the misuse of English grammar tends to give English natives the heebie jeebies at first. Then you get used to the strange words, and the next thing you know, you're accidentally using them in English while talking to your mother on the phone -- how embarrassing. Sometimes the words are used in their plural forms to make them easier for Japanese to pronounce or write, and other times to keep two words from sounding the same in Japanese. Because "fruit" and "flute" would have the exact same pronunciation when written in katakana, the writing system used for expressing foreign loan words, the musical instrument became "furu-to" and the edible stuff became "furu-tsu." Other Japaneseified English words include peanuts butter, nutsmeg, and Kellogg's newest addition to the Japanese cereal market, Fruits Loops.

Driving in Japan can be different from what you might be used to. The Japanese drive on the right side of the road, like the British. Most drivers turn off their car's headlights at intersections (leaving the parking lights on), as a courtesy to drivers who might be blinded by their lights on the other side of the intersection. While honking a horn at another driver can cause road rage in the U.S., here a short "beep" is the universal way of saying thanks and good-bye as you pull away. In Tokyo, where drivers drive with consideration for others (unlike our prefecture, where drivers are very rude), a two-second flashing of the hazard lights is the correct way to say "thank you" when another car lets you in in front of him. Gaijin are always confused by the Japanese use of the word blue (aoi) to refer to green traffic lights -- they look green to us, but for some mysterious reason, they Japanese use the word blue to describe them. Finally, in Japan, there's a three second delay between the time when one traffic light turns red and the next turns green. By unwritten rule, Japanese drivers universally make use of this time to speed their car through the intersection, despite the red light, since they know they've got several seconds before the other cars will start moving.

For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you, including fresh stock of dozens of our popular anime, toy, wacky, DVD, Japanese snack, hentai and other products for you. We still have 80+ fantastic 2004 calendars, and prices have been knocked down yet again to help you help us reduce our inventory. Please browse the over 2000 excellent Japanese products we have available for you!

At J-List, we sell just about everything from cool Japanese items for your kitchen to rare anime toys to wacky T-shirts you don't know you need until you see them. We feel we have a mission to bring all forms of contemporary Japanese pop culture to our customers all over the world, and we love doing what we do. One item we've wanted to sell for many years are the squeaking shoes that Japanese parents buy for their children. Children love having shoes that squeak as they walk, and parents will enjoy knowing exactly where their child is at all time, from the sound of the squeaking. When our own children were small, they wore these shoes when we took trips to the U.S., and we got many comments about what a great idea these shoes were. So we're happy to be able to bring them to you!

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Greetings from J-List December 31, 2003

Hello and "yoi otoshi o" from all of us in Japan!

Well, 2003 is at an end, and we're all ready for our final J-List update before turning our faces to the coming year and all that it holds. Japanese usually spend New Years Eve quietly, with the family gathering to enjoy a special night of TV. Virtually all of Japan's famous singers, comedians and other "talents" (a word the Japanese use as a catch-all for television performers) appear in Kohaku (lit. "red-white"), a great year-end variety show in which the male singers battle the female singers to see which group is more talented. Japanese eat soba, or buckwheat noodles, which supposedly helps you live longer (because the noodles are long) and wait for the New Year to commence. At 15 minutes before midnight, Kohaku winds down, and NHK broadcasts quiet, solemn images of shrines, temples and churches all around Japan, lit up to allow eager visitors to get their New Year's prayers in as early as possible. The bells in shrines and temples ring out 108 times, to purify the 108 delusions that humans are supposed to be subject to, and to ring out hope for the coming year. Then, without any fanfare or countdown, the clock on NHK's video feed flashes 0:00, and the new year is here.

One thing that took some getting used to when I first got to Japan was the sharp distinction between this year and the coming year in the Japanese language. In the U.S., a New Year's Party is something you throw on December 31st, to ring in the new year with friends and champagne. But in Japan, it's not the "new year" until January 1st, and so a party with friends is a "bounen-kai" (Forget-the-past-year Party) if it's in December, and a "shinnen-kai" (New Year Party) if it's in January. In December, you wish someone a Happy New Year by saying "Yoi otoshi o" (YOH-ee oh-TOH-shi oh, lit. "have a good year"), but on or after Jan. 1st you can say "Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu" (ah-kay-MAHSH-tay oh-meh-deh-toh go-za-ee-mass, lit. "congratulations on opening the new year"). New Year's is the most important holiday in Japan, and most businesses are closed for the first few days in January as everyone takes a rest. But one group of people are busier than ever: Japan's postal workers, who must sort and deliver millions of Japanese New Year's greetings cards, the sending of which is a huge custom in Japan.

The past year has been a phenomenal one for all of us at J-List. We found dozens of great new ways to bring fun and bizarre things from Japan to our customers who are not fortunate enough to live here, and helped spread interest in the country that we love to tens of thousands of people -- including the 50,000+ readers of our regular J-List update emails. Thanks to the warm support of all of you, we've been able to be an even better "wonderful toybox of things from Japan" this past year. From all the staff of J-List in Japan and in San Diego, we thank you for your support, and hope you'll let us serve you in 2004!

For the new update, we've got an extra-special update for you. The new items include:

  • 2003 has been the Year of Shirow Masamune, and we've got a very special item for you: the Intron Depot Figure Series 2, featuring six incredibly detailed sexy characters from the mind of Japan's foremost artist. Full sets are in stock -- there's no need to buy many duplicates to get the items you want!
  • Then for Nausicaa fans, we've got a very special item: a highly detailed PVC replica of Nausicaa on her Meve flying wing, an incredible item for any fan's display area
  • Also for Miyazaki fans, we've got a very soft, high-quality Jiji plush from Japan's famous Sun Arrow toy company, and fresh stock of Makkuro-Kurosuke (er, Soot Sprites)
  • The Japanese film Battle Royale has become a cult classic, and for collectors, we've got the very special Battle Royale II Requiem Special Edition Box, loaded with cool things for you
  • Every summer and winter, tens of thousands attend the Comic Market, an underground convention where fans can buy doujinshi, or fan-created comics -- we've got some really cool "doujin cosplay photo CD-ROMs" in stock for anyone in love with high-quality anime cosplay
  • We carry tons of cool Hello Kitty items from Japan -- enjoy a great Kitty pocket tissue holder that will hold J-List tissue as well, great Hello Kitty art kits for making watercolor and sand paintings, and more
  • We have a great new Japanese fude pen, a brush-writing pen that allows you to write as if you were using a Chinese ink brush
  • We've done a major restocking of Japan Hot Wheels, sold only in the Japanese market (Knight Rider, Speed Race, Back to the Future Delorean), as well as some new Tomica die-cast cars (including the popular Prius)
  • For your kitchen, various new bento and chopstick related items, great for fans of Japan's boxed lunch culture
  • Also, bizarre new Japanese pin badges for people who love strange things from Japan
  • We have two bizarre "head puppets" from Japan that are great for parties or to amuse your friends with
  • We have more cool dictionaries of Japanese proverbs, 4-character compound words and more, fun for anyone studying the language
  • We have some cool English-language manga and DVD items shipping out of our San Diego office, take a look at them
  • We have some amazing snack items for you, including a cool Japanese good luck charm (daruma, lucky cat, etc.) with chocolate cookies
  • Also, a huge update of restocked items, including Men's Pocky, our world-famous Gummi Sushi, Hello Kitty Strawberry Pretz, Dice Caramel, and more
  • Finally, we've got some authentic Japanese "zabuton" or sitting pillows, which make it comfortable to sit on the floor like the Japanese do.

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

  • First, we have the delicious new issue of Urecco Gal, the super magazine of stylish pro and amateur kogal nudes, with some of the boldest and most erotic photography found in Japan
  • From Soft on Demand, we've got a very special item: SOD's special magazine, with a 2 hour sampler DVD, at a great price!
  • For photobook fans, enjoy the wonderful nude photographs of female pro wrestler Noumi Kayo
  • Also, the super-sexy Momo-Mune Musume ("Peach Breast Daughter") Hiroko Akamatsu's first sexy hardcover photobook
  • Then see the lovely bondage play of Japanese adult video star Rin Tomosaki, captured in a high-quality photobook for you
  • Doujinshi fans, rejoice: we've gotten a bunch of great new erotic doujinshi books for you, fresh from Comic Market 65, which was held yesterday -- enjoy all the great new underground comics posted for you, however stock is limited...
  • We have some great new erotic manga for you, including the delightful Slave Need Pleasure by the famous hentai artist Hindenberg, a new issue of Tende Freeze and more
  • We've also got the new issue of Electric Love Princess, featuring super erotic anime parody doujinshi, collected into a perfect-bound manga volume for your manga collection
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some fabulous items in stock for you, starting with an exploration of the eros of stewardesses, with top names like You Natsuki, Ran Asakawa and Ryoko Yada (region free)
  • Then get ready for the luxurious sex of Sora Aoi, aka Sola Aoi, in her fantastic new release from Alice Japan (region free)
  • From Soft on Demand, a new project from Hajime, the wacky Japanese adult video director -- see amateurs from all around Japan showing their beautiful breasts to the camera (region free)
  • Then it's time for the "Ernest Lesbian Play & Deep Kiss with Semen" from Waap, an extra-special 2-disc work featuring the last performance of the erotic Nao. and Kirari Koizumi (region 2)
  • Kyoko Ayana gives you her "Big Breast Fruits" in an erotic new release from SOD's Princess label, a great offering for fans of extra-voluptuous girls from Japan (region free)
  • Finally, we've got more freshly restocked DVDs, along with even more of our popular free shipping adult DVDs -- check them all out!

J-List carries dozens of top-quality Japanese dating-sim games for you, with virtually every English-translated interactive game in existence available for immediate order. We've gone through and updated some of the pictures and descriptions to our games so you can get a better view of how beautiful the characters and graphics are in these insanely great games from Japan.

Remember that J-List stocks the incredible detailed classic food replica items from Re-Ment and other companies, which recreate famous food of the world -- sushi, Japanese traditional dishes, desserts of the world, Chinese food from Yokohama's Chinatown -- in such detail you won't believe they're not edible (you even get little silverware/chopsticks). All of the food replica items we have in stock right now are out of production, so the stock we have will be our last. We hope you'll consider picking several of these unique items up -- full sets are available so you don't have to buy lots of duplicates!