Friday, March 05, 2004

Greetings from J-List March 5, 2004

Hello and TGIF from all of us in Japan!

Part of the fun of living in Japan is watching Japanese TV, which never fails to entertain. One of the most popular TV shows on right now is Toribia no Izumi, or the Fountain of Trivia, which presents fun but useless trivia to a panel of famous Japanese comedians and entertainers, who then press buttons to indicate how interesting they think the trivia item is. Some of my favorites: In Angkor Wat, there's a pillar with graffiti written by a samurai who went there in the 1700's, thinking it was a Buddhist temple. After the 15th Tokugawa Shogun returned power to the emperor in the Meiji Restoration, he tried to find work as a photographer. In the Japan Lion's Club, the members affix the word "lion" to the end of their names. The original rules for organized basketball called for two teams of 50 players each. In the original Italian story that Cinderella was based on, Cinderella slams a chest on her stepmother, killing her. They also answer such useless questions as, how much faster would an Olympic sprinter be able to run if he were running on a moving sidewalk.

Another show we like to watch is TV Champion, which pits contestants against each other to show off their amazing talents, creating massive origami sculptures, remodeling hundred year old homes with limited budgets, baking exotic cakes, and so on. Some shows feature eating contests to see how many hot dogs, bananas or sushi contestants can eat in a limited time. Yesterday they featured artists who made amazing sculptures out of massive blocks of styrofoam. One contestant recreated an Egyptian tomb, complete with pillars and skeletons, all carved and painted with simple tools. Another interesting creation was the lunar surface, complete with styrofoam replicas of Neil Armstrong and the lunar lander.

Today is Friday, and that means I'll be taking the kids to our favorite public bath. Bathing in hot springs ("onsen") and public baths ("sento") is a popular pasttime in Japan, and despite the hard economic times of the past few years, Japan's public bathing sector has been going strong. Our favorite bath is called Yura no Sato, and offers over a dozen different baths to enjoy, from traditional Japanese "kama" baths which are basically giant metal pots to baths with rocks on the bottom which massage your feet.

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

  • First, for fans of really cute things from Japan, we've got a new USB "hubcot" (hub mascot) featuring Sony's cute cat Doko Demo Issyo ("Always With You")
  • J-List loves the miniature toys from Japan, called candy toys because you usually get some candy included with the toy -- we've got some nifty cases that are great for displaying your small toys proudly in your room
  • Speaking of candy toys, we've got a super cool item in stock, a replica of famous bottles of sake, with delicious replicas of food you eat in Japanese bars
  • Also very cool, we've got limited stock of full sets of the new Please Teacher Collection Figure -- get all six before they're gone
  • We have some great new snack items for you, including delicious Lotte Cheesecake Toppo, a baked stick snack with "cheesecake choco" inside
  • Also newly posted, find Nestle's Aero Choco, delicious whipped chocolate to eat, tasty garlic bread snacks, Every Burger (chocolate hamburger cookies), and for fans of Japanese bubble gum, new yogurt flavored Fruit of the Bubble
  • We've made a great big restocking of our snack items to better serve you -- look for Coconut Pocky, delicious little cheesecake snacks, Shrimp & Salt flavored Pretz, and fresh stock of sugarless Black Black
  • We've got some really cool household items from Japan, including soft rubber bumpers which protect your little ones from bumping on corners, a handy toothbrush hanger for your bathroom, and more
  • Newly added items for your kitchen including a great hard-boiled egg cutter, which slices into pieces in one movement, and a new non-stick scoop for your rice cooker
  • Enjoy more classical music of old Japan with new CDs we've posted -- including Japanese military songs from World War II
  • The hibiscus flower is the symbol of young Japanese females, called kogals, and we've got a great reflective hibiscus sticker in stock for you
  • Finally, look for more Tomica die-cast metal cars and other restocked toys on the site.

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

  • For fans of the excellent 18+ magazines from Japan, we've got the new issue of Gokuh, filled with beautiful women (including Sola Aoi, one of our favorites) and a giant pull-out poster
  • Then we've got the very cool issue of Ultimate Heroine, a beautiful look a leather lingerie from Sanwa
  • For photobook aficionados, be sure to check out the new Temption Blue, featuring the drop-dead gorgeous Aki Hoshino (comes with a DVD!)
  • Also, we've got a fabulous photobook capturing the up-close and personal photographs of Kyoko Ayana, one of Japan's top names in the JAV world today
  • For fans of detailed ropework and other themes, we've got the new issue of DVD Aido Club, which features a full color magazine and a DVD full of great movies to sample
  • For our manga customers, we've got more excellent works for you, including the lovely "I want to be gently held by you" by EC Comics, and a superb anthology of various cosplay themes
  • We have some great new doujinshi for collectors of these popular parody books, all brand new releases in Japan
  • Also, we've got a fabulous collection of doujin CG by the doujin circle Mimakasa Direct
  • We love to bring you really cool toys for adults that can only be found in Japan -- we've got two new blow-up "love pillows" of real Japanese actresses, which come complete with vocal CDs by the girls -- wow
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great items for the weekend update -- first up, Million asks the question "What If Asuka Sawaguchi Were my Dearest Girl..." (region free)
  • We have a veritable festival for Minori Aoi fans -- three of her best titles re-released at great prices. Buy them separately, or as part of a new Minori Aoi Complete Box set (region free)
  • Then enjoy more of the pure loveliness of Nana Natsume in a new image video release by Soft on Demand (region free)
  • Also from SOD, we've got a really interesting twist on yaoi -- a work which explores themes of homosexuality, yet both of the performers are women pretending to be men (region free)
  • Then enjoy the Best oif Madoka Ozawa brought to you by Moodyz, 4 hours of her best performances on two DVDs (region 2)
  • Finally, we've also got a major restocking of DVDs for you, including Stewardess and Leg Best 4 Hours, Marina Matsushima's excellent "DIX," Cosplay & Tekoki, Mika Kitagawa's elegant performances, Haruka Tsukino Final, and more great works by Sola Aoi and Ran Asakura.

Remember that J-List sells delicious stick snacks from Japan, including the delicious chocolate covered Pocky (Coconut is one of my favorite flavors), salty and delicious Pretz (I love the Tomato and Grilled Corn flavors), and the baked Toppo. Since the summer months in Japan are very hot and humid, we don't sell any products with chocolate past May or so. If you're looking to try our great selection of delicious stitch snacks, hurry!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Greetings from J-List March 3, 2004

Hello again from all of us in Japan!

It's official: as of 2003, there are more drivers on Japanese roads aged 65 or older than young drivers aged 18-24, with the oldest licensed driver in Japan a hale 104. The aging of Japan continues, brought on by one of the lowest birthrates of any industrialized country (1.33 babies born per female) and the lack of immigration. As the population gets older, companies are moving to create products and services for them. It seems every third TV commercial on daytime television is for companies selling products for older Japanese, including ways to remodel your house and make it "barrier free," a term the Japanese have coined meaning a living space that's free of stairs and other obstacles that make it hard to live. Diapers for adults are also advertised openly on TV. Insurance companies like Zurich and AFLAC have found a profitable business in Japan, selling supplemental insurance to elderly Japanese who worry about being hospitalized and not having enough insurance to cover the costs.

Written Japanese can be quite confusing. In general, kanji characters in Japanese have two readings, a Japanese reading and a Chinese one (there are many exceptions to this rule). Because there are two ways to pronounce most characters, there is often confusion about which pronunciation is "official" in a given situation. The character for mountain is read with the Japanese reading of "yama," but paired with the names of mountains, you usually use the Chinese reading of "san": hence, the name of Mt. Fuji in Japanese should be Fuji-san and not Fuji-yama. However, there are parts of Japan that do use Fuji-yama for the official name, for no reason that I can fathom other than regional dialect differences. Similarly, our favorite soba restaurant is a local place called Soba-gura (literally "soba warehouse"). But the character for warehouse can also be read "zo," and to this day I'm not really sure if the restaurant I've been going to for years is called Soba-gura of Soba-zo.

Japan is a great place, far ahead of the rest of the world in such important cultural areas as cellular phones, stylish refrigerators with doors that open either from the left or the right, toilet seats that wash your butt (and dry it), and wonderful massage chairs that bathe you in negative ions as you get massaged. But there are some areas where Japan lags behind the rest of the world. Japanese clothes dryers all lack vents leading to the outside of your house, creating unpleasant humidity while your clothes are being dried. Japan has many choices for good ethnic eating, but Mexican isn't something the Japanese ever developed a taste for -- no chips or salsa here. Bagels are also an alien thing to the Japanese, and are very hard to find. And Japanese peanut butter is, well, so over-sweetened that no American could be happy eating it. So I make sure to bring back a couple jars of Peter Pan every time I go back to the States.

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

  • First, for fans of unique Japanese toys you can't find outside of Japan, we've got a series of Japanese Zero fighters, a great replica series by Doyusha
  • Hello Kitty fans, we have a cool CD case that you will flip over, sold only in Japan
  • We have unique snack items for you today, including Morinaga Bake (baked chocolate snacks), more Petite Snack tube treats, and candy featuring the famous (in Japan) Nova Bunny, from Nova's English conversation school commercials
  • Also, we have more delicious Pocky snacks with traditional flavors from Kyoto -- the newest flavor is yomogi, a delicious taste from old Japan
  • We've also restocked several candy and snack items, including Strawberry Kit Kat and the
  • J-List lives to bring cool things from Japan to you all -- one such item is the Morino Ichigo figure from Please Teacher, a beautiful soft vinyl anime statue with base that looks great
  • Morning Musume's Natsube Abe (AH-beh) is one of the most popular members of the popular group - see her fabulous new photobook which captures amazing Japanese imagery along with the beauty of this delightful idol
  • Also look for various restocked photobooks, including popular swimsuit idols like Yuko Ogura, Moe Yoshizawa and Yoko Matsugane
  • Also, for fans of our dynamite custom-made high school uniforms, hand-crafted to your size specifications by Matsukameya of Nagoya, we've gotten in stock of the leather Japanese school bag and the 70 cm authentic loose socks
  • Inuyasha fans, we've got a great new trading card series by Cardass in stock for you
  • Fans of Zeta Gundam (my personal favorite), we have soft vinyl keychains of the Qubeley and Psycho Gundam, with Hamaan Kahn and Four -- so cool!
  • Then enjoy the delightful sexy photos of Kasumi Nakane, in a great new photobook for all fans of beautiful women
  • We have more wacky signs from Japan, including authentic "emergency exit" signs and other wacky things for your room
  • We have more wacky Japanese chopsticks in stylish colors for your home
  • For fans of Japan's wacky parody erasers, we've got cute erasers in the shapes of boxes of tissues and toilet paper
  • We've gotten our hands on more sets of the Spirit of Wonder full set + rare figure toys, for collectors who want to get this really nice
  • The popular Tomica Prius die-cast car replica has been restocked, for anyone who wants to own a mini version of this popular car
  • Finally, look for Japanese hot spring bath powder, fresh stock of our popular miniature Japanese food, restocked items for your kitchen, and more!

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

  • For fans of 18+ magazines, we have the elegant new Urecco, a great issue that's filled with incredibly beautiful stars for you to check out
  • Also, several new magazines featuring real Tokyo girls in authentic love hotels
  • Photobook fans, we've got another great photobook with Sola Aoi, aka Sora Aoi, a fabulous new hardcover offering for the stylish photography what we've come to call "Japanese girls in Underoos"
  • We've restocked several of the Encyclopedia of High School Girls Uniform photobooks, who those who love the aesthetic look of Japan's uniforms, or who want to recreate them for cosplay
  • Also, look for other restocked photobook items, including books by Mayu Koizumi, Moe Yoshizawa and Sola Aoi
  • For 18+ manga fans and collectors, we've got some great new books for you, including Mellow by MD Comics, a collection of manga works by popular female manga artists, and a new installment of the popular Please Older Sister series
  • Yaoi fans, we have a new issue of the popular Muscle Men, along with freshly restocked yaoi comics for you
  • We've got another volley of great doujinshi, including an ultra-thick uber-doujinshi/manga with 250+ pages of fantastic art
  • DVD fans, we've got some great items for you, starting with a collection of outdoor naughtiness in the streets, subways and parks of Tokyo (region free)
  • Then enjoy a superb new release by one of our favorite JAV stars, Kyoko Ayana, so bright and happy and soft like a cloud (region free)
  • Izumi Hasegawa is a dynamite JAV star, performing for the first time in indies works -- see her excellent debut work by Soft on Demand (region free)
  • Then from the creators of Deep Kiss, we have a great new release, Massaging Breasts for the First Time, in which beautiful women get a great massage on camera (region free)
  • For fans of Bunko Kanazawa, one of the most popular JAV idols of the past decade, we have a new "For the Best Onanie of You" release, complete with a latex toy made from a cast of Bunko's body (region 2)
  • Finally, we've got a large number of restocked DVD titles, including the smash-hit adult debut of Mai Hagiwara, Kyoko Ayana's delightful onanie assistance, more popular "CFNM" teasing fun, and fresh stock of the Best 4 Hours of the Dream Woman series.

Remember that J-List carries dozens of super cool "candy toy" (miniature toys that usually come with candy inside, called "shokugan" in Japanese) items from Japan, including miniature Japanese food items that are replicas of the wax food used to show customers what meals look like in restaurants before they buy. Although these are sold in random boxes, J-List goes the extra mile for you by creating full sets of these great toys for you to buy, without wasting your money on duplicates. All the popular food replicas by Rement are currently out of production, so our current stock of great items such as Family Restaurant and Japanese Desserts and the super cool miniature Japanese supermarket items (complete with shopping basket and receipt) will be all we'll be getting in!

Greetings from J-List March 3, 2004

Hello again from all of us in Japan!

It's official: as of 2003, there are more drivers on Japanese roads aged 65 or older than young drivers aged 18-24, with the oldest licensed driver in Japan a hale 104. The aging of Japan continues, brought on by one of the lowest birthrates of any industrialized country (1.33 babies born per female) and the lack of immigration. As the population gets older, companies are moving to create products and services for them. It seems every third TV commercial on daytime television is for companies selling products for older Japanese, including ways to remodel your house and make it "barrier free," a term the Japanese have coined meaning a living space that's free of stairs and other obstacles that make it hard for the elderly or disabled to live. Diapers for adults and hair-loss products, including those for women, are also advertised openly on TV. Insurance companies like Zurich and AFLAC have found a profitable business in Japan, selling supplemental insurance to elderly Japanese who worry about being hospitalized and not having enough insurance to cover the costs.

Written Japanese can be quite confusing. In general, kanji characters in Japanese have two readings, a Japanese reading and a Chinese one (there are many exceptions to this rule). Because there are two ways to pronounce most characters, there is often confusion about which pronunciation is "official" in a given situation. The character for mountain is read with the Japanese reading of "yama," but paired with the names of mountains, you usually use the Chinese reading of "san": hence, the name of Mt. Fuji in Japanese should be Fuji-san and not Fuji-yama. However, there are parts of Japan that do use Fuji-yama for the official name, for no reason that I can fathom other than regional dialect differences. Similarly, our favorite soba restaurant is a local place called Soba-gura (literally "soba warehouse"). But the character for warehouse can also be read "zo," and to this day I'm not really sure if the restaurant I've been going to for years is called Soba-gura of Soba-zo.

Japan is a great place, far ahead of the rest of the world in such important cultural areas as cellular phones, stylish refrigerators with doors that open either from the left or the right, toilet seats that wash your butt (and dry it), and wonderful massage chairs that bathe you in negative ions as you get massaged. But there are some areas where Japan lags behind the rest of the world. Japanese clothes dryers all lack vents leading to the outside of your house, creating unpleasant humidity while your clothes are being dried. Japan has many choices for good ethnic eating, but Mexican isn't something the Japanese ever developed a taste for -- no chips or salsa here. Bagels are also an alien thing to the Japanese, and are very hard to find. And Japanese peanut butter is, well, so over-sweetened that no American could be happy eating it. So I make sure to bring back a couple jars of Peter Pan every time I go back to the States.