There are many expats living in Japan from a broad mix of countries -- Peru, South Korea, Brazil, Canada -- and it's fun to make friends with people you might not normally cross paths with if you lived in your home country. I've had fun talking over American politics with friends from Australia, and I've had some interesting conversations with Iranians who frequent the public bath I go to a lot (speaking Japanese with them, since they don't know English and I don't know Farsi). I've also had many Chinese friends over the years, too. There's a secret rivalry between Chinese students of Japanese and "white" gaijin like me, though: we're jealous that they can already read kanji, so it takes them a lot less time to master Japanese than it does for us. When I took level 1 of the Japanese Ability Test (the highest level, required if you want to attend a Japanese university), I was one of a very few blonde heads in the room: most of the other test-takers were from China or other Asian countries. We native English speakers get our revenge, though, as Japanese is peppered with thousands of complex English words like "character designer" and "shutter chance" and "amenity communicator," which are hopelessly difficult for Chinese speakers of Japanese to understand.
Have you ever wondered what all the name suffixes added to the ends of Japanese names mean? Well, I'll tell you. "-san" is the basic name suffix that everyone has probably heard of, and it indicates formality, like adding Mr. or Mrs. to a name in English. Used with the last name usually (e.g. Fujita-san), it can also be added to the first name (Tomo-san) to show some politeness while also showing familiarity. Two other common name suffixes, "-chan" and "-kun," are used when talking to girls and boys (e.g. Rina-chan and Kazuki-kun) who are younger than the speaker, and both indicate a degree of closeness. In Japanese companies or in school settings, there are strict differences between upperclassmen/superiors ("senpai") and underclassmen/juniors ("kohai"). When speaking, underlings will use "-san" and speak with polite verbs when addressing their superiors; those in a superior position tend to use "-kun" and use informal verbs when talking to their juniors, in essence verbally reinforcing the top-down relationship in ways that can't be expressed or comprehended in American English. Some other name prefixes that are used often include "-sensei" (for teachers, doctors, and sometimes politicians); "-senshu" (athletes, e.g. Matsui-senshu, when referring to Hideki Matsui); and "-announcer" (a name suffix for newscasters).
Yes, Japanese naming customs are quite different from the West. Last year, I went to the U.S. with my daughter and Daisuke Furuta, one of our employees here in Japan. My daughter called me aside to ask me why everyone in America called Daisuke by his first name rather than "Furuta-kun." Calling someone by their first name (called "yobisute") is somewhat odd in Japanese, and implies an extremely close relationship, hence my daughter's confusion. Once I called a female student of mine and asked her mother if she was home. I accidentally referred to the student by her first name only, and her mother was immediately on her guard, wondering what kind of relationship this gaijin had with her daughter. (I was innocent, honest.)
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of Go Nagai's timeless Cutie Honey, we have two great PVC figures featuring these lovely girls, complete with stands to display them proudly
- Next, we've got a big restocking of many popular Totoro and Studio Ghibli items, including the Totoro aluminum bento box, Soot Sprite magnets, and the very big Totoro plush toy from Sun Arrow
- Also, look for various newly restocked Domo-kun items, including the large Domo plush (the biggest one ever made), Domo-kun phone straps, and the large Domo-kun plush cube
- Speaking of Domo-kun, we've got two really cool plastic document protectors which allow you to carry your important papers while looking cool
- Do you love delicious Japanese snacks? J-List always stocks the newest cool snacks from Japan -- enjoy tasty Strawberry and Coconut Pocky, in stock for you!
- Other new snack treats include more "Collon" cream-filled cookies, delicious melon soda flavored Hi-chew Kids, and healthy Clorets sugarless breath gum with Xylitol
- Also, see fresh stock of many popular items like March of the Koalas, Wata-pachi and Wata-gum cotton-candy-like treats, Mentaiko Pretz, delicious rice crackers, Pocari Sweat powder, and Bontan Ame, the famous Japanese candy that you can eat, wrapper and all
- From the people who brought you pink nipple cream to cure dark nipples, we've got a dainty "Secret Fragrance" for ladies' undergarments and other "important areas"
- We've got a deluxe new Paper Stitchlock in stock, which you can use to seamlessly stitch sheets of paper together -- never needs staples!
- Kitty fans, we've got some neat new items for you, including a pair of safety scissors for any small hands, as well as fun Hello Kitty maracas -- great for parties
- Also for Sanrio fans, we've got "decoration cup" featuring a super cute new character Cinamoroll, an, er, rabbit who likes cinnamon rolls, but he's very cute
- Take up Japanese brush writing with our deluxe calligraphy sets -- everything you need to start practicing beautiful written kanji calligraphy
- Love Hina fans, we've got full sets of the newest PVC mini-figure collection, featuring all the lovely bikini-clad Love Hina gals
- Finally, find a cool all-wood pencil case, tons of cool Hello Kitty restocked items, handy bento boxes, restocked Japanese study tools, and more!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- First, we have a great H magazine for you, the new issue of Ura Dela Beppin, filled with the naughty acts of real Tokyo girls
- Next up, enjoy one man's journey to be with over 1000 women, in the new issue of Sennin Giri (lit. "more than 1000 girls")
- Photobook fans, enjoy the super new offering of Yui Haruka, with the rather odd title of "H Stick"
- We've got a great photobook featuring the most beautiful Russian women we've seen in a long time, a special treat from Japan
- Also, a very hard photobook in Japan's "gouka-bon" style
- Then for fans of extremely beautiful Japanese models in cosplay, we've got a super new photobook featuring the lithe Jun Natsukawa dressed as an OL, elevator girl, nurse and more
- For our H manga customers, we have some great new comics for you from Japan, including a dynamite love story from Tenma Comics, parody lovers, and a great new release from Amanojack
- Also, many restocked manga for you, including many restocked hermaphrodite manga -- almost a dozen items back in stock for you to check out
- For DVD fans, we've got some great new items for you, starting with the great "international sex tour" of Nanami Nanase, performing for you in beautiful Las Vegas (region free)
- Then enjoy 4 hours of special performances with top JAV idols in super cute uniforms for you (region free)
- From Soft on Demand, we have a great two-part "24 hours special" tag battle with Izumi Hasegawa and Ai Kurosawa, who must perform at any time in any situation during a 24 hours period (region free)
- From Waap Entertainment, we've got a great new Dream Shower release for fans of fabulous wet JAV stars -- Mika Shiina performs for you in this new work (region 2)
- Then we've got the lovely Cocolo who appears in a great new "soap girl" work by Moodyz (region 2)
- Finally, look for various restocked DVDs, including several No Cut!! and other popular low-priced DVD titles!
Remember that J-List currently stocks all the oh-so-cool Furuta Star Trek models, extremely detailed replicas of the greatest ships of the Star Trek universe, from the TOS original to Next Gen and beyond. We currently have various sets of these toys in stock for you, however our current stock is going fast, and we're pretty sure we'll sell out of this dynamite series in a short time, with no more available to us ever. If you'd like to own this amazing series of Japanese miniature models, we recommend you pick up a set very soon.