It's been said that the construction industry is to Japan what defense is to the U.S. While the U.S. works closely with its defense contractors to ensure the development of military technology, Japan's government has a very close relationship with a variety of contractors who receive billions in contracts each year to build roads, bridges and other projects. Japan spends a massive amount on public works each year, trying to recapture its former economic health: incredibly, Japan spends enough to build the Panama Canal every year. As you can probably imagine, there's plenty of corruption and pork barrel inefficiency, resulting in some very wasteful projects that are an embarrassment to the government. The Tokyo Bay Aqua-line, a massive bridge-and-tunnel that cuts across Tokyo Bay to Chiba Prefecture, cost $7.7 billion to build; the toll to use it is over $40, so most drivers continue to use the old freeways. In Northern Japan, the Shinkansen line was recently extended to Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost point of the main island, despite the fact that this is one of Japan's most sparsely populated regions. Sometimes Japanese public works projects actually benefit us though: about 10 km from our house, there's a large trash incineration facility, with a complex of public swimming pools next to it called Caribbean Beach, featuring a wave pool, water slides and a pool with a fast-moving current, all heated with energy from the incinerator and very cheap to use. A project like this wouldn't be possible without Japan's otherwise questionable New Deal.
One thing about Japan: it's a very seasonal place, with very distinct seasons. Spring is beautiful with its short-lived cherry blossoms, summer is hot and humid with many fun festivals, fall is filled with crisp brown leaves, and winter is cold and frosty. I've met many Japanese who tell me with great pride that, unlike America, Japan has four distinct seasons, and they enjoy every one of them -- apparently these people haven't ventured outside of Southern California. Japan doesn't really have four seasons, actually: it's more like nine, since there are various mini-seasons interspersed with the larger ones, such as Japan's dreary rainy season (mid-May to mid-June), typhoon season (which comes at the end of summer) and super-windy kara-kaze season in December.
When you're learning about Japan through anime or manga, it's always fun to learn some of the small, unimportant details along the way. One is "Ai-Ai Gasa" (lit. Love Love Umbrella), a cute doodle that is drawn by elementary school students, the Japanese equivalent of a boy and a girl carving their initials in a tree surrounded by a heart. In anime, this famous doodle is usually used to imply a romantic relationship between a weak-willed main character and overpowering female, with very amusing results. Supposedly, the idea of a boy and girl walking in the rain under the same umbrella is quite romantic to the Japanese. To see what Love Love Umbrella looks like, click this link (the names under the umbrella are Taro and Hanako, the Japanese equivalents to the names John and Mary): http://www.asahi-jc.com/images/kasa.gif
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of Panda Z, the ultra cute panda-shaped robot piloted by young Pantaron, we've got more cute character goods in stock, including paper protectors, rulers and other great items for school
- Want to study Japanese? We've restocked the popular hiragana and katakana study cards, along with other fun cards for studying Japanese vocabulary words
- For fans of our unique Japanese snacks, we've got delicious "throat candy" that contains Japanese "yuzu," a uniquely flavored tart citrus fruit, as well as excellent Nata de Coco candies
- Also, delicious ramune candies in cute plastic "cans" -- classic, cola and vitamin drink flavors
- Xylitol is a popular sugar-free flavoring from Norway that improves the health of your teeth -- we've got delicious new Recaldent gum in stock for you to try!
- We love wacky messages in Japanese -- see various reflective stickers with funny messages for you
- Gundam fans, we've got a super new "Mobile Fortune" toy set featuring little Gundams that help you read your fortune -- they will tell if you what your future is going to be, and they're so darned cute
- Just in time for summer, we've got a great Hello Kitty shave ice machine which allows you to enjoy cold and delicious shave ice during the summer months -- yummy, and fun to make!
- Enjoy romantic JPOP songs on CD along with special hot springs powder for your bath -- a unique item from Japan
- We love cute things from Japan -- check out newly added Doraemon and Usacolle items
- Have need of a bag to hold things? We've got a handy canvas bag that is extremely compact yet expands to hold just about anything
- Gothic & Lolita Bible fans, we've restocked the popular Homemade Gothic & Lolita pattern book, which makes it easy to create your own gorgeous gothic outfits
- We've restocked the delicious tonkatsu sauce, just called "sauce" in Japanese
- Shirow fans, we've restocked the very popular Ghost in the Shell bilingual manga, which features color pages and a totally new translation from the Japanese original
- Looking for a really special oversized bento box? We've got a great Coca-Cola branded bento box that features many compartments, built-in chopsticks and a protective bag, so cool!
- We've restocked several popular Studio Ghibli DVDs, which feature full English subtitles and many extras: newly restocked are Nausica of the Valley of the Wind, The Cat Returns and Spirited Away
- Finally, we've got a cool ring to help you diet, more Hello Kitty chopsticks, more Japanese sugar and kitchen items, and other great things from Japan!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- For fans of Japanese photo magazines, we've got the dynamite new issues of Video Boy and Best Video, featuring dozens of top-name JAV stars
- Then explore the world of glossy Japanese photobooks with a new offering from the delicious Remi Kawashima
- Next up, Yoko Matsugane redefines the concept of beauty in her latest photobook (she looks so good in an oversized men's shirt)
- Then enjoy the delightful Akiko Momou in a superb sexy photobook from Japan
- Also for glossy photobook fans, we have the excellent and exotic photos of Rema Aoyaki, a startlingly beautiful Japanese idol
- For H manga fans, we've got some great works for you, including the bold and sexy Panicle Chronicle by Kabao Kikkawa, classic naughty manga by Action Comics, and an exploration of the world of human desires by Apple Comics
- Also, look for great restocked manga such as the Colors Anthology, Contents C, Refrection (sic), and the extremely popular Futanariko Love
- Also, fresh stock of the dynamite Hanafuda all-color oversized graphic novel for kemono fans
- For our DVD fans, we've got some great new items for you for the Monday update, including Ayu-Cos, great parody cosplay parodying Ayumi Hamasaki, the top name in JPOP in Japan (region free)
- Then explore the fiery world of flexible erotic ballerinas in a new release from Big Morkal (region free)
- SOD's Deep Kiss girl-girl kissing DVDs are part of JAV history -- now enjoy the Deep Kiss Best Ranking, the very best scenes from this timeless series (region free)
- Then we've got a "tickling torture" DVD release from SOD's Martian Devil label (region free)
- Next up is a great release from Waap, featuring the dreamy and beautiful Mai Sakashita (region 2)
- Then from Moodyz, we've got a first: naughty sumo wrestling, featuring a bizarre twist on Japan's famous sport that only Moodyz could think of (region 2)
- Finally, look for many restocked DVD titles, including the excellent Stairway to Heaven & Highway to Hell, Zenra Ballet, and several fabulous all-girl titles.
Remember that J-List carries a full line of Japanese snack foods, with many rare cult favorites in stock for you, like Pocky, Black Black caffeine gum, and also the delicious and popular Felix the Cat bubble gum, which is famous all the world over (we're not sure why this is, but we don't mind). Don't forget that all chocolate products will be removed from stock during the summer months, since chocolate melts in the heat and humidity.