I often think that the U.S. doesn't look hard enough to countries like Japan for ideas about how to best organize the government. Currently, the issue of requiring cars to have better fuel efficiency in the face of the popularity of large SUVs is being discussed. Japan has a great system for encouraging use of fuel-efficient cars in its road tax system: every March, anyone with a car must pay an annual tax which gets more expensive the larger your car's engine is. Drivers of the smallest, most efficient cars pay only $30 a year; for average cars, the tax is around $300; but if you've got a large sedan or SUV, expect to pay $1000 or so. The current California annual vehicle registration system starts out high when you buy a new car, but drops as your car's value goes down, effectively rewarding drivers for keeping their cars as long as possible, even when they become inefficient polluting machines. Instead of this system, structuring things so that there's an economic benefit for driving newer, more efficient cars sounds like a good idea to me.
Now Japan has entered Golden Week, a series of national holidays that happens to fall more or less within the same week. Japanese use the long holiday period to travel, and it's common for virtually the entire population of Tokyo to make a mass exodus away from the city, going home to be with family or taking a vacation in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, anyplace that we'd like to take the kids during Golden Week -- the mountains, hot springs, Tokyo Disneyland -- is packed with Tokyoites, making it virtually impossible to go anywhere fun.
There are many approaches to learning a foreign language -- the Army Method (stress on learning through memorization), the Grammar Translation Method (learning a language by parsing its grammar), the Communicative Method (leaning by speaking and listening in the target language), the Natural approach (trying to replicate the steps that children go through when they learn a language). Another approach is the "get attention" method, which I'll label the Social Feedback Method to give it a cool-sounding name. Basically, you learn whatever vocabulary and phrases that will make you the life of the party among your new linguistic group, be it cute ways to begin conversations with attractive Japanese girls or interesting phrases that will amuse Japanese people around you. I have a friend who worked his way across Asia using this method, learning just enough of the local languages to be social and have fun with his hosts, and he swears by it.
At J-List, we love being a bridge of pop culture between Japan and the West, and we try to encourage interest in studying Japanese by selling many Japanese study aids (basically, all the things I wished I could buy when I was studying Japanese at SDSU back in the 1980s). One of the best tools to help you study Japanese is the Canon Wordtank, a fantastic line of electronic dictionaries that are packed with features for gaijin learning Japanese. We're proud to announce we've gotten stock of the brand new G50, a totally redesigned Wordtank with great many great features, including up to nine dictionaries including the Kojien, the most famous dictionary in Japan. We've also restocked the IDF4600, the Cadillac of Wordtanks, and reduced our price on this fabulous item. Both come with full English printed manuals, too!
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for Shirow Masamune fans, a treat: a personal Roman Album of Mamoru Oshii, director of the Ghost in the Shell movies
- Next, a super treat for fans of highly detailed "candy toy" and PVC figures -- the 40th anniversary Official Exhibition Guide of the famous Kaiyodo corporation, showing off their most amazing creations ever
- Final Fantasy fans, we've got a super "trading figure" series from Square featuring the most memorable figures of the timeless FF series
- Blythe fans, we've got two really special Blythe doll + dish sets by Takara, very fashionable and fun to display
- For fans of our Japanese snacks, enjoy some special new items, including tasty blueberry pies, a sample pack of candy from the Meiji Confectionery Company, flavored bread stick snacks and more
- Also, super cute Sailor Moon gummi based on the cool new Sailor Moon live-action TV series
- Hello Kitty lovers, we've got a cute "Kitty Notebook Computer" that you can use to email Kitty-chan -- it even has a mouse
- Next, we've restocked several popular reflective Japanese message stickers with bizarre messages, to amaze your friends with
- For Domo-kun lovers, we've got a brand new item, a cool leather pen case featuring Domo-kun and his friends
- We have more authentic chopsticks from Japan, a handy set of hand-made bamboo chopsticks that are great for having guests over, and a "value pack" of disposable chopsticks for all uses
- Need to iron clothes anywhere? We've got a handy item from Japan, a portable ironing glove that's so handy
- Have hours of fun with a fun PostPet game, the super cute pink bear made by Sony -- he dances in water for you
- From the Panda Z universe, two cool new robot friends: Hamugear 1 and 2, giant robotic hamsters that are incredible cute
- For fans of die-cast toy cars, we've got fresh stock of the Tomica Honda NSX, Nissan Cima and Porsche Boxster, as well as newly restocked Japan Hot Wheels toys
- If you were interested in the varieties of Japanese tea we mentioned on Wednesday, we've posted some very healthy Japanese tea, great for dieting too
- Finally, a cool way to organize your business cards, cute erasers for fans of Shinkansen, another of the Gabriel C basset hound toy from the Ghost in the Shell Innocence movie, and more!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- First, for fans of Japan's elegant 18+ photo magazines, we've got the new issue of Urecco, an extra-special one that's filled with gorgeous JAV stars and models
- Next we we've got the new issue of Sasotte Ageru, e.g. I'm Gonna Ask You Out, a fun magazine for fans of real Tokyo girls
- Then we've got the new issue of DVD Wonderland, a full color magazine with a 2 hour DVD of super indies samples for you
- We've also gotten in stock more low-priced magazines and magazines with DVDs inside, starting at just $5
- Photobook lovers, we've got a super hardcover offering by the lovely Nao. (she always has a period after her name, in imitation of Morning Musume.), an superb Japanese beauty
- Sakura Mizutani is the super cute honey who will "Snipe your Heart" in her new hardcover photobook
- Then from Sabra, a special photobook featuring Azusa Yamamoto, as photographed by Seiichi Nomura
- Restocked photobooks include the amazing Dressage by Marina Matsushima, the elegant Sundownder stocking photobook, Maiko Kazano's stylish and sexy photobook, and more
- For our H manga customers, we've got some special items, including a new Electric Love Princess manga, compiling famous game-girl doujinshi, a special manga about skinship, and a story featuring "naughty tentacles"
- For our DVD customers, we've got some great items, starting with 4 hours of the best Cosplay Idols by TMA (region free)
- Next, enjoy the "Palm of a Hitomi Hayasaka" with 4 hours of her hardest performances, presented by Million (region free)
- From Soft on Demand's Deep's label, an exploration of various themes for you, with seven gorgeous JAV stars (region free)
- Then enjoy an amazing "cat fight" offering from Soft on Demand, featuring wild girls who really get into it in the ring (region free)
- Then from U&K, a new exploration of extremely sensual and expressive kissing between females -- don't miss this cool DVD (region free)
- For fans of Garo Aida, we present the beautiful new soft offering of Megumi, one of his most beautiful models yet (region 2)
- Finally, various restocked DVD titles, including the Contrary Soap Heaven with Sora Aoi, more "study by 100 girls" DVDs, and other restocked items!
Remember that J-List carries dozens of varieties of low-cost highly-detailed "candy toys," so named because you usually get some kind of candy in the box with the toy. From the super cool PVC figures of Shirow Masamune's characters to Furuta's superb Star Trek models to replicas of famous Japanese foods to the Sony AIBO toys, these are fun to collect and display. We even sell display cases for these special toys! Because we're dedicated to going the extra mile for you, we make full sets of most items available so you don't have to waste your money buying duplicates and throwing them away.
Want to see Japan's military in a new light? We found a recruiting video for the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Forces that's quite amusing. The slogan is "I love Japan. I love peace." The link is here: http://www.jda.go.jp/JMSDF/event/cm_p/index.html (Quicktime required).