Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Greetings from J-List February 25, 2004

Hello again from your friends in Japan!

Ask any gaijin living in Japan about dentists here, and you'll be sure to hear some complaints. While Japanese dentists are good at fixing teeth, they're famous for making you come back 24 times to finish your dental work, instead of getting it out of the way in a few visits. There was a TV show on a couple of years ago called "People of Japan! This is Strange," in which Japanese-bilingual foreigners would discuss what kinds of frustrations they experienced living in Japan, and sure enough, Japanese dentists who take months to fix your teeth was brought up several times. I'm in the middle of some major dental work right now, and had a tooth pulled yesterday -- never a fun experience no matter what country you live in. My dentist said that it was very hard to get the tooth out, and he praised by "strong American bones" which were more sturdy than those of his Japanese patients.

Although cities like Tokyo have excellent train and subway systems, in most parts of Japan the only way to get around is a good old car. Buying a car in Japan is a little different from the U.S. though. For starters, there are almost no independent new car dealers, and virtually all new cars are sold through retail locations operated directly by Japan's auto makers. You never drive away with a car the day you go in to buy it, but instead order it, and it's then made to your specifications at the factory and delivered three weeks later. The idea of driving home with your car the day you buy it would rob drivers of part of the fun of buying a new car, that is, waiting for it to be delivered, and buying a car that had been sitting in a dealers' lot would make it feel "used." If you've ever bought a Saturn, you're buying a car the Japanese way, since Saturn was created by GM as a direct experiment to implement Japanese car sales practices in the U.S. market -- enabling the car manufacturer to both make and sell the vehicle, controlling all aspects of how the cars are presented to buyers. For years I've wanted to buy a Mazda Miata, sold in Japan under the name Roadster (but due to Japanese phonetic limitations, everyone thinks it's called "Roadstar"). Last weekend we went to the local Mazda dealership and bought one, and I'm waiting for it to be delivered sometime next month. I can't wait to drive it!

My kids are kind of funny. They are half American, and we make it a point to bring them to the U.S. several times a year so they can learn about their other home country and experience the same things as American kids. They know Taco Bell, and Scooby Doo, and Cocoa Puffs, and all the normal icons of life in the U.S. But because my wife and I are busy with J-List, they spend an above-average amount of time with my wife's parents, Jiichan and Baachan (Grandpa and Grandma), who we live with in our house in Japan, and the influence of the grandparents comes through in funny ways. My kids love traditional Japanese sweets like anko (a sweet bean paste), which many Japanese kids and virtually all foreigners detest. Of course they love natto, the fermented Japanese soybeans that are the bane of most gaijin living in Japan, and they also love to munch on all kinds of Japanese rice crackers, choosing them over chocolate or other sweet foods. The blending of American and Japanese in my kids is always fun to observe.

We're extremely happy at how popular our wacky Japanese T-shirts have been. For fans of the cutest monster in all Japan, we've got a great new 100% cotton parody T-shirt featuring a "block style" version of Domo-kun. It's a very wacky design that will show your unique interest in Japan to everyone around you. Check out our wacky "MODO-kun" T-shirts, in stock now!

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

  • First, the lovely swimsuit idol Yuko Ogura is on her way to becoming the most popular cute girl in all Japan -- see her great new hardcover photobook, which comes with a cute punch-out doll of Yuko-chan for you to display
  • For fans of cool anime toys, we've got the official Welsh Corgi toy from Cowboy Bebop, Ein, made from high-quality soft vinyl
  • For Godzilla fans, we have a great series of trading cards from the new movie, Godzilla vs. Mothra vs Mecha Godzilla
  • For fans of G-Taste, the famous manga and art book series by Hiroki Yagami, we've got a great new line of "trading figures" by Epoch featuring busts of his most famous characters
  • Hello Kitty lovers, we have a great item for you: a giant heart cushion which will enhance the look of any room
  • We've got some great new snacks for you from Japan, including more "petit snack" tubes of cookies and crackers, as well as delicious Oreo Choco and Strawberry Sticks -- yum
  • Also a rare treat, Pocky stick snacks made with traditional Kyoto mochi rice cake, a super new twist on a famous Japanese dessert taste
  • For a taste you don't see every day, we've got a limited edition Tohato Caramel Corn, in the very rare white chocolate flavor (yes, we're confused by it too)
  • We've got some great chopsticks for your kitchen, nice and long for adult hands, with rough edges at the bottom to help you grip your food
  • Got some sesame seeds? Grind them up with a great wooden pestle from Japan, also useful for many jobs in the kitchen
  • Scoop rice with a new rice scoop we've got for you -- comes with an anti-stick coating and a handy holder
  • We've restocked the extremely detailed Utawarerumono figures from Epoch, very detailed, with full sets in stock
  • We sold out of the Spirit of Wonder Figure Collection toys we posted in just one day -- we've posted some random individual figures of this series while we try to get more full sets
  • Hold your business cards stylishly with a new stainless steel name card holder from Japan
  • We've restocked the popular Hyper Product Revolution, featuring super cute swimsuit idols like Megumi, Harumi Nemoto, Eiko Koike, Yuko Ogura and Chinatsu Wakatsuki
  • Finally, see authentic Buddhist prayer beads, cool Hello Kitty items for your children, fresh stock of large-size bento boxes from Japan, and more!

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

  • For fans of Japan's adult magazines, we've got the new issue of Bachelor, filled with beautiful women from around the world, including the amazing Yulia Nova
  • Then enjoy a great "million mook" filled with beautiful Tokyo girls aged 18-22, shot in various beautiful places all around Japan
  • For photobook fans, we've got some great new items for you, including the beautiful glossy photobook of Iori, an amazing hardcover photobook
  • We have some excellent new 18+ manga comics for you, featuring incredible artwork and themes, including a new offering with strong hermaphrodite concepts, beautiful cosplay art and more
  • Also, look for another big restocking of our most popular books, including the "Excellent" anthology books, Live Wire Insertion, and the very popular Futanari Premium
  • For doujinshi collectors, we've got another volley of excellent new books for you, parodying Japan's famous anime characters in naughty ways
  • J-List carries unique and interesting toys for adults sold only in the Japanese market, and we've got a cool new item for men: a soft, otherworldly vibrating adult product with many potential uses, made of ultra-soft massaging micro beads
  • For DVD collectors, we've got some great new offerings, starting with the very first "hard" performance by the lovely Mai Hagiwara, who has finally made the jump from a beautiful image idol to the professional JAV world (region free)
  • Then taste the lovely silky stockings of Cocolo, who stars in a great new fetish offering from Atlas 21 (region free)
  • JAV director Hajime is known for some extremely wacky ideas -- see a new collection of his best works released through Soft on Demand (region free)
  • Also from SOD, enjoy the new Deep Kiss, this time produced by the famous Female Director Haruna, who shows her stuff with one of SOD's most famous video lines (region free)
  • Then enjoy the very lovely Asuka Sawaguchi as she stars in a 3 hour special release by Wanz Factory, showing her most memorable performances ever -- great for fans of the amazing Japanese girl-next-door (region 2)
  • Finally, look for some great restocked DVD products, including Photo Shot DX, Eri Yukawa's very hard DVD release, restocked Sora Aoi DVD titles, and more!

Remember that J-List carries the famous Japanese gum Black Black, a caffeine-laced gum that will wake up you and keep you awake. Enjoyed by everyone from college students to truck drivers, Black Black has been plugged in Wired Magazine and novels by William Gibson. And as with most of our gum and snack items, if you buy 10 or more you get a 15% discount at checkout.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Greetings from J-List February 23, 2004

Hello again from Japan!

America and Japan are very different in many ways, and the relationships between men and women reflect this. Western-style feminism never took root with Japanese women because they didn't feel it was right for them -- while women want to be protected from discrimination and 'seku-hara' (sexual harassment) in the workplace, Japanese women who actively seek lifelong professional careers are rare. While many women work as full-time OLs ("office ladies," a Japanese term for any female office worker), other jobs that are popular with women include tour guides, flight attendants/ground hostesses, and language interpreters. But the greatest job a woman can aspire to in Japan is undeniably "joshi-ana," or female newscaster (e.g. "announcer," often shortened to "ana"). All throughout Japan, many women see these educated television personalities, so beautiful and well-dressed and usually fluent in English, and sigh with envy. By unwritten Japanese rule, female newscasters nearly always marry Japanese baseball stars.

I once had an interesting experience while hitchhiking around Western Japan. I was staying at a youth hostel in Hiroshima, and there were people from all over the world staying there -- it's always fun to meet people from other countries, and youth hostels are great for that. I got into a conversation with a young Australian college student who was positively burning with the fire of American feminism, and was visiting Japan for the first time to try to awaken her "Japanese sisters" to issues of equality. A middle-aged Japanese woman who was very down-to-Earth joined our conversation, and I was trying to translate for the two women so they could share their ideas. On the one hand, the Australian girl had many logical arguments about the roles women should be able to take in a society, while at the same time the common-sense statements made by the Japanese woman were very logical, too. The bottom line is, ideas we take for granted in our own country don't necessarily work the same in other parts of the world.

When is the color blue really green? When you're in Japan. For some reason that we're not able to fathom at all, the color green is often called "blue" ("ao" or "aoi") in Japanese. When foreigners come to Japan, they learn that the color green is "midori," but when you see a green traffic light, Japanese universally describe the light as "ao" (blue). If you go to Aomori Prefecture, don't look for a "blue forest" because there isn't one, but there are plenty of green forests. When they buy fresh vegetables, Japanese say they want to find the ones that are "ichiban aoi" (lit. the most blue, e.g. the freshest). Why is this? Tomo thinks that it's because a long time ago, there was another kanji that described the color green, but it unfortunately had the same reading (pronunciation) as the normal character for blue, "ao." Through some mechanism that is beyond my comprehension, certain objects (the green of a traffic signal, the green of a leaf on a tree) are described as "ao" (blue) in Japanese, instead of "midori" (green). Like bowing to a vending machine that has just verbally thanked you for making a purchase, it's all part of the wackiness of living in Japan.

All my life I've been a fan of the Peanuts cartoons, especially the classic strips of the 50s, 60s and 70s, which I read avidly while growing up. I'm very happy to see Fanta Graphics is going to be publishing all the strips in order, starting in 1950 and going on from there, and I'll be picking them up for my collection. If you're a Peanuts fan, check these great books out. The URL is http://www.fantagraphics.com/peanuts/peanuts.html

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

  • First, for fans of meticulously made anime toy replicas, we've got limited stock of a great series based on Spirit of Wonder, with full sets available
  • Also very cool, we've got full sets of a line of capsule toys based on the timeless classic anime show, Urusei Yatsura
  • Interested in our Japanese snacks? We've got even more for you, including cheese flavored scone snacks, "baby" potato chips and chocolate cookies, and delicious chocolate treats from Japan
  • Also, a huge restocking of snack page items, including Milk & Hot Chocolate Pretz, Pocky "G," Tsubu Tsubu Strawberry Pocky, Pocky Decorer, winter-limited March of the Koalas, and Cheesecake Choco Ball -- yum!
  • Looking for something extremely cute? We have Usacolle (Usagi Collection) name stickers that are self-adhesive and so cute you might just drop dead
  • We've restocked some great anime art books including the Chobits Your Eyes Only art book
  • From Medicom Toy, the famous maker of great toys from Japan, we've got a soft vinyl replica of Benny the Cab from Roger Rabbit
  • Then for fans of the original 1966 Ultraman (like me), we've got a very detailed toy replicas of the Science Special Search Party VTOL airship, one of the coolest toys we've seen
  • Show how Japanese you are by giving Japanese "stick sugar" to your guests -- we've got this uniquely Japanese item in stock now
  • We've got other wacky items for you too, including a cute door sign that lets you tell others when you're studying, "having a guest" or "out of door"
  • The Diablock block figures from Japan combine stylish Japanese design with the cute block figure style you know -- we've got cute character keychains in stock for you
  • We've got a neat item that my own kids love: rulers with swirling wheels inside to make amazing designs
  • Finally, look for more wacky Japanese stickers, more wacky erasers in cute shapes, and more!

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

  • First, we've got the MPEG Indies DVD, featuring a full color magazine and DVD with 4 hours of great sample movies for you
  • For fans of the lovely Yoko Mitsuya, one of our favorite sexy idols, we have her new magazine release, with all pages dedicated to this lovely woman
  • For fans of Japan's beautiful glossy photobooks, enjoy the beautiful body (and 99 cm bust) of Haruka Tanabe in her new offering
  • Then enjoy the incredible beauty of Yua Aida in her very first shy photobook release for you
  • We have many restocked photobooks too, including Micro Mini stocking lovers' photobook, Aki Hoshino's best-selling hardcover photobook, and more copies of the huge hit product On Location with Mai Hagiwara
  • We've also got some excellent 18+ manga for you, including "Please be quiet while the doctor is examining you," a superb new hermaphroditism book, a great anthology of classic manga stories and more
  • Also, we've restocked some excellent manga comics for you, including the Pururun Princess series, Memories of Pink, the Urushihara's amazing Dark Crimson
  • Doujinshi collectors, we've got another bunch of all-new books for you, but check them before they sell out
  • Also, we've restocked the extremely cool Youhei Kozou CG collections vol. 1 & 2
  • For our DVD collectors, we've got more excellent titles from japan, starting with the debut DVD of the "absolute beauty," Karen Kisaragi (region free)
  • Then enjoy excellent performances by girls from Northern Europe, in a great release by Wild Side (region free)
  • Visit the "Planet of the Lustful Women" in a bold release from Dash, featuring tekoki and other Japanese fetishes (region free)
  • Then witness the delightful Watermelon Breast Newscaster starring Kyoko Ayana, a super new title from Princess that you won't want to miss (region free)
  • Then see more bizarre study of human genitalia fetish, brought to you by Moodyz (region 2)
  • Then see a great new performance by 100% Tokyo Natural Girls, in a new DVD release by Wanz Factory (region 2)
  • Finally, we've restocked another dozen or so popular DVD titles for you, so check out our selection!

Remember that J-List carries excellent magazine by our "reserve subscription." This means that you can get great anime, JPOP, fashion and other magazines sent to you as soon as the new issue is out in Japan -- a few days earlier than newsstands receive them here, in fact. Japanese anime magazines like Newtype Japan, street fashion magazines like FRUiTs, and the incredible Megami Magazine, filled with posters and cards in each issue -- all are available from us each month. Payment through any method is fine (credit card, check or money order) and you can stop your subscription at any time.