Friday, February 20, 2004

Greetings from J-List February 20, 2004

Hello again from all of us at J-List!

Rice is the staple food of Japan, and it's eaten pretty much two or three times a day by most Japanese. Japanese usually eat white rice, steamed in electric rice cookers that are owned by virtually every household (we have two or three in our house). Rice is usually eaten as a side dish to other foods (hamburger steak, sashimi, salmon, etc.), and the food you eat as a main course along with your rice is called "okazu." Supposedly, the idea of eating a small amount of a main dish with a lot of rice comes from Japan's wartime past, when everyone was poor and had very little to eat except rice. The best rice in Japan comes from Niigata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan side of the country (the Snow Country in Kawabata's famous novel). It's called Koshi-Hikari, and restaurants proudly boast of serving only this type of rice to their customers. The Japanese have a couple of different words for rice, depending on what form it's in. "Genmai" refers to rice in its natural state, and "kome" (KOH-meh) is processed, uncooked white rice. Rice in its cooked form is "gohan," and this word is also used to refer to all food, not just rice. Similarly, "sake" refers to all alcoholic beverages, not just sake.

The fact that Japanese love to eat so much rice is the probable reason so many Japanese women seem to have problems with constipation -- after all, rice is supposed to firm up your stool, and they eat it every day. One report I saw on TV here said that 47% of Japanese high school girls and 57% of career women report problems with constipation ("benpi" in Japanese, in case it ever comes up in Trivial Pursuit). The high rate of constipation can cause other health problems including a tendency towards some cancers, and women have even been known to die when their intestines ruptured from an accumulation of waste products. Rice is very important to the Japanese, but perhaps some of them should consider eating less?

It's been said that South Korea is "the nearest country and yet the farthest away" from Japan. Despite being extremely close to one another geographically and genetically, and despite billions of dollars of trade flowing across the Sea of Japan (the Koreans hate that name by the way), it's often amazing how little understanding there is about customs on both sides of the water. Over the past few years, though, there've been real steps at meaningful cultural exchange between Japan and South Korea, helped in part by the co-hosting of the 2002 World Cup. Many Koreans such as KPOP singer BoA and actress Yoon Son Ha are regular faces on Japanese TV, and as of January, a ban on Japanese culture in Korea has been lifted, allowing Japanese music and other forms of culture to be sold in Korea. We hope for lots of happy interchange between the two countries now and in the future.

At J-List, we really believe that Japan's interactive dating-sim games are great, and so we carry virtually every English-translated game available in our San Diego warehouse for your convenience. We're happy to announce the next great game to be released: G-Collections' new Heart de Roommate, in which you play Yusuke, a boy who finds yourself living in a girls' dorm with some very beautiful female roommates. A innovative new dating-sim game for Windows computers, the story is divided into 26 anime-style episodes, complete with opening credits, "eyecatch" breaks before commercials and more. In stock and ready to ship out to you right away!

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

  • First, for all who love Totoro, we've added some high-quality plush toys from Sun Arrow, Japan's famous maker of toys for nearly 100 years
  • Also, a major restocking of popular Totoro and Studio Ghibli items, including the Knitting Bou Nezumi from Spirited Away, the Totoro Soot Sprite keychain and more
  • For fans of our delicious Japanese snacks, we've added many new items for you, including Indian Chai flavored chocolate snacks (wow!), Barbecue flavored "scone" snacks, and some delicious Japanese potato chip and sesame munchies
  • Domo-kun fans, we've restocked the super large Domo-kun stuffed plush, the largest Domo they ever made!
  • From Medicom Toy, we've got a deluxe set of six detailed Kubrick figures from Dragon Head, the popular anime and manga, a fabulous item for collectors
  • Also for fans of unique Japanese toys, we've got a set of six classic steam locomotives from Japan's golden years, a great item for trainophiles all over the world
  • We've got a great new Tomica die-cast metal car in stock, the Nissan Cima, sold in the U.S. as the Infinity Q45
  • For Hello Kitty fans, we have a great form-fitting pillow which will make sleeping more comfortable, and make it fun to sleep with Kitty
  • We've got more wacky Japanese folding fans that are very traditional and nice to look at
  • We've added more stock of the popular Japanese brush pens which let you write flowing Japanese calligraphy
  • For sushi fans, we've got some handy "temaki" sets which allow you to make rolled-type sushi easily
  • J-List carries unique DVDs from Japan, and we've added stock of My Neighbor Totoro (the official Ghibli release with full subtitles and many extras) as well as OH! Mikey vol. 4 (both region 2)
  • For all students of Japanese (or just about any other subject), we've gotten in more stock of the Zebra Check Set study aids, which help you memorize any information, the way the Japanese do
  • Finally, we've got wacky Japanese stamps, more music boxes for anime collectors, fresh stock of the deluxe 120 cm loose socks, and more!

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

  • First, check out the new Monthly Chisato Morishita, featuring amazing photos of one of Japan's most beautiful ladies
  • Then see limited stock of some popular magazines, including more items posted starting at just $5
  • We love Japan's tradition of leg fetish photography, and we've added a new photobook for you
  • Then enjoy the delightful swimsuit photos of Izumi Yokoyama, an amazing Race Queen popular in Japan now
  • Also, a superb offering with Hikari Kisugi and Kirari Koizumi, two very special Japanese idols
  • For 18+ manga fans, we've added some great new comics, including the newest Maya Miyazaki Presents, cute cosplay manga, and a dynamite work by Hidemi Amano
  • Also, we've restocked several popular manga for you, including Blue Eyes (all volumes)
  • We've got more excellent doujinshi for you to check out, including amateur comics based on Bluer than Indigo, Sakura Wars and more
  • For yaoi fans, we've added a great new manga for you too -- Aim For My Heart and Let's Fall in Love
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some excellent new items for you, starting with The Stewardess Best 4 Hours, 240 minutes of all-stewardess action (region free)
  • Sola Aoi, aka Sora Aoi, is one of our all-time favorites in the JAV world -- see her in a new release that features mult-angle features (region free)
  • From SOD, enjoy the "pure select" performances of stars like Ai Kurosawa, Kokoro Amano and Kyoko Ayana in a great new best-hits release (region free)
  • For fans of girl-on-girl action, we have a new release by Soft on Demand in which girls must battle other girls, with sexy results (region free)
  • We've loved Akira Watase ever since she appeared on the JAV scene some years ago -- see her in a bold new release from Wanz Factory with some of her best performances ever (region free)
  • Then from Moodyz, enjoy a wonderful new release starring Manami Suzuki in a beautiful tropical land
  • Finally, look for a big update to our DVD stock, including Anna Ohura's DVD works, Stars!! with Monoka (sigh...), more 4-hour DVDs full of the best girl-girl performances you can find, and more!

Remember that J-List offers automatic discounts on many items that we make available. Looking for some DVDs? Get 4 or more and get an automatic 15% off. Looking for some Japanese dating-sim games? Buy 4 or more and get a great bit 20% discount. Some of our wacky Japanese T-shirts with messages like "I'm looking for a Japanese Girlfriend"? Get 3 or more and get a 10% discount. All discounts are automatic at time of checkout.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Greetings from J-List February 18, 2004

Hello from J-List! Spring is beginning to spring here in Japan, a time that's called Haru Ichiban in Japanese. On the Kanto plain that means strong, dusty winds blowing everywhere, as high pressure and low pressure zones fight it out for control of the country. It's windy outside, but at least it's getting warmer.

People and customs can vary quite a lot from place to place. In America, we try to respect individuality, and the concept that everyone is unique and special is seen as a positive one. But in Japan, the dynamics of how groups function tend to make people less interested in being seen as unique or special by the in-group at large. I like to consider my own life to be quite unique -- I'm an American who's been lucky enough to live in Japan for the past 13 years and evangelize Japanese pop culture to many great people all around the world. I also lived in New Zealand for a year when I was a boy, and am one of the few Yanks in the world who can recite Fred Dagg comedy monologues. I had a Japanese friend who was very different from "average" Japanese in many ways, yet when I pointed this out to her once she said, "No, I'm just a normal, average Japanese." My friend actively wanted to be thought of as normal (in Japanese: futsuu) and not different (kawatteru) from the norm, and my compliment that she was "unique" actually upset her.

In the course of my adult life I've read most of James Clavell's books on Asia and Japan. While his historically-based novels are interesting, I've always had a problem with his Japanese characters who are finely attuned to such concepts as giri (duty, honor, obligation) and ninjo (lit. human feeling, e.g. the moral tradition of giving up something for others) and other flowery concepts that didn't seem to mesh with modern Japan. I've never met a Japanese who was ready to commit seppuku, although James Clavell's characters always seem ready to disembowel themselves at a moment's notice to defend their honor. I have observed, however, that most Japanese do practice real filial piety, that is, showing respect to their parents and making decisions that take their parents wishes into account. For example, while Americans usually leave home in their late teens or early twenties and never live with their parents again, it's customary for the oldest son or daughter to stay at home permanently, taking over the family business (if there is one) and maintaining the house as the central hub for the rest of the family members. When that person gets married, their wife or husband will come live with them in their parents house, in effect being legally adopted by that family. When my father-in-law married my wife's mother, he came to live at our house, taking his wife's last name and taking over the family liquor shop. I also joined their household, although I kept my own last name. A bit of trivia for you: a man who lives with his wife's parents but doesn't take their last name is called a Masuo (mah-SOO-oh), named after the husband in the long-running anime show Sazae-san. If you want to surprise Japanese friends, pull this bit of knowledge out and watch their jaws hit the floor that a foreigner would know something like this.

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

  • First, for anyone wanting to study Japanese, we've got some useful items: kanji workbooks for Japanese students that are great for anyone trying to master written Japanese
  • Also, workbooks for practicing writing of hiragana, katakana and kanji, and more fun word cards in stock
  • And for any serious student of Japanese, we're happy to have the new Canon Wordtank IDF-3000, featuring four complete dictionaries inside an easy to use electronic unit -- features full English menus and manual
  • Hello Kitty collectors, we've got some really cool items for you today, including plush Kitty hand towel sets for your bathroom
  • Also, fresh stock of the Hello Kitty USB hub, the excellent Kitty diary, and other cool items
  • Check out our unique Japanese snack items, including sour ume gummi treats, chocolate covered pumpkin seeds, tasty senbei crackers, and a great new kind of hard candy that's really fun to eat
  • Also, restocked traditional snacks like kneading candy (semi-liquid candy you mix with chopsticks) and the delicious "bubble ball" fizzing candy
  • For fans of our wacky things from Japan, enjoy train maps of the Tokyo and Osaka area, great for your wall
  • For fans of Shirow Masamune's amazing works, we've got vol. 1 of the very hard to find Jashin Hunter (Demon Hunter) illustrated novel back in stock -- but our current stock will be the last available
  • For Gundam fans, we've got the new Haro Capsule Toy series, featuring really cool PVC toys of Gundam characters in Haro-styled capsules
  • By request, we've restocked the popular fude-pen brush pens, which write like a Chinese writing brush
  • Look for some really amazing wood-cut chopsticks, perfect for putting out when guests come over to eat
  • Promote health in your mouth with "tongue cleaners," which are shaped so that you can easily brush your tongue just like you brush your teeth to remove plaque
  • We've got some very stylish block-toy style toys from Japan similar to Lego, which you can attach to your phone or keychain
  • For women who want to restore the pinkness of their nipples (something Japanese women are concerned about apparently), we've restocked the popular Chikubina pinkening cream
  • We've done a major restocking of many Totoro and Studio Ghibli toys, including several Totoro plush toys, Soot Sprite plushes, the Totoro and Jiji knapsacks, the Spirited Away plush Collection, and the Fox Squirrel from Lapura and Nausica
  • Also, an item we're proud to be able to make available to you, the giant Totoro Cuckoo Clock, a truly amazing item for your home
  • Finally, look for many other great items from Japan, including the Cup Noodle coffee cup (a favorite of mine), new ways to make sushi and gyoza in your home, a sunny side up egg maker, and more!

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

  • First, we have two excellent new issues of Penthouse Japan and Penthouse Special, wonderful magazines produced entirely in Japan and featuring Japanese models and aesthetic sensibilities
  • We've got the new issue of Do-Up!, the super sexy magazine featuring real Japanese girls off the street
  • For fans of Manami Suzuki, the delightful former Race Queen turned video idol, we've got a magazine with DVD of her best works (region 2)
  • Also for DVD fans, we've got a great 5 hour magazine and sampler DVD item, the new DVD Dash (region free)
  • Then enjoy the delightful nude of Emi Kitagawa in her amazing new photobook release
  • Also, the amazing sexy photobook of Natsuki Katoh, featuring many artistically beautiful photos
  • For 18+ manga fans, we've got some excellent new works for you, including The Bandage Man and Ryoh-Yuuki's amazing Love Mix
  • Also, we've restocked many manga volumes for you, including Punky Knight, P-Total Bio Chemical Lab, Refrection, and all four volumes of the popular Female Panther
  • For doujinshi fans, we've got another selection of top-quality comics posted, with some amazing new parody anime releases for you
  • Also, yaoi fans, enjoy a big restock of popular books too, including the Muscle Man series
  • We've restocked the beautiful Libido 7 DVD Visual Works art book too, for collectors of Japan's dating-sim games
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great items for you, starting with a fantastic *8 hours* of the "Ero Best" of Big Morkal, an amazing feat by one of Japan's top professional studios (region free)
  • Then see the best girls from Hungary in another bold "Japanese actors vs European gals" release from Wild Side (region free)
  • Then catch a wild trio of performances by Ai Kurosawa, Mai Haruna and Miyuki Hourai in a massive 2-DVD set from Soft on Demand (region free)
  • Ami Ayukawa has debuted in the indies world, allowing this amazing angel to really shine at her best -- see a great new release from her through Wanz Factory (region 2)
  • Then for fans of the luscious Kyoko Ayana, a fantastic treat: a great new DVD from Moodyz which comes with a latex toy that was molded from Kyoko's own body (region 2)
  • Finally, look for some great new DVDs in stock, including Dream Woman Best 4 Hours, a bizarre sports festival from Moodyz, more "black men vs Japanese girls" titles, Akira Watase's parody of the Mini-Suka Police, and more!

Remember that J-List carries many cute items for your kitchen, including bento boxes and accessories, Japanese chopsticks (both basic ones for general use and cute chopsticks), sushi and onigiri molds, wacky Japanse kitchen containers, and more. Please check out the "Kitchen and Bento" section of the Wacky Things from Japan page!