Friday, June 18, 2004

Greetings from J-List June 18, 2004

Hello and TGIF from all of us in Japan!

First of all, we're extremely happy to announce that all 18+ images on the J-List website have been put back to normal, with no more annoying yellow censors. We thank everyone for their understanding while we fixed that unpleasant problem. To show our appreciation, we're announcing a one-week-long "Thanks Sale" (to use a popular Japanese term). For the next week, you can get a special 20% discount on purchases of 4 or more DVDs, and a whopping 25% discount on purchased of 4 or more bishoujo dating-sim games. All DVDs and games are part of the same. We've got the best customers in the world at J-List, and we want you to know we appreciate you!

The Japanese do love tests. In addition to their world-famous college entrance exams, the Japanese have standardized tests for just about everything, with levels that are similar to the belt colors in karate and judo. Just about every subject, from abacus to waapro (word processing) to accounting have national tests that students and adults are encouraged to study for and take. The most famous test in Japan is Eiken, a series of English ability tests that Japanese students take over the course of their lives -- level 3 while in junior high school, level 2 while in high school, and level 1 if they really want to try a challenging test during or after college. There are standardized tests for Japanese brush writing, penmanship, memorizing train schedules, and even a test for calculating rapidly and accurately with a calculator. All sports have their own various standardized tests, too, to provide a series of goals for students learning to play the sport. My son takes skiing lessons every winter, and he's progressed quite well by clearing each level of the skiing tests -- he's only 9 and he can already ski down slopes I wouldn't walk down.

For gaijin like you or me, there's another useful test: the Nihongo Noryoku Shiken or the Japanese Ability Test, taken each December at various cities around the world. It's a standardized test that checks all aspects of Japanese comprehension. There are four levels to the test, designed so you can take one each year as you advance in your Japanese studies. Level 4 tests basic kana and the first 100 kanji, levels 3 and 2 are progressively harder, and level 1 is a really difficult test required for all students who want to enter a Japanese university. Japan's test mania may seem odd, but I think it is a good way to motivate people to study and better themselves. If you'd like to take the Japanese Ability Test and are near Los Angeles, see http://www.jflalc.org/proftest/ (do a Google search for other cities). Note that if you are interested in taking the test, you must sign up soon, so don't delay -- many a gaijin has worked up his or her courage to challenge the test, only to forget to sign up by the cut-off period, which is in late summer.

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 pastime in Japan, and despite the hard economic times of the past few years, Japan's public bathing sector never stopped growing. Our favorite bath is called Yura no Sato, or Hot Water Village, 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, several saunas and more. It's a lot of good, clean fun, Japan-style.

We had a bug in our RSS feed, which caused the feed to not update properly. We've fixed it now. You can use any standard RSS feed reader to quickly note when the site has been updated, see the newest 120 products, and access J-List's updated pages easily. RSS readers let you set up feeds from your favorite websites so you can quickly check for updated information. If you have any questions about the RSS feed, please let us know.

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

  • First, for those who want to explore Japan's love of "minus ion" products, we've got something very special for you: a Sanrio Hello Kitty hair dryer that emits negatively charged ions as it dries your hair
  • Also for Kitty enthusiasts, we've found more limited stock of the soon-to-be-gone-forever Hello Kitty Massager, the coolest pop culture item the world has ever seen
  • The lovely Kyoko Fukada, an actress and singer who is famous all over Asia, has an amazing new photobook release for you capturing her in the most amazing Gothic & Lolita outfits
  • For fans of Ruroni Kenshin, aka Samurai X, we've got another dynamite Story Image Figure series, with five extremely detailed figures for you to display anywhere (full sets in stock)
  • Fans of Tomy's die-cast Japanese cars, we've got some cool new items, including the Toyota Harrier, aka the Lexus RX300, and very cool Toyota Probox
  • Fans of delicious Japanese snacks, we've got a new flavors of Pretz for you, delicious traditional treats, and with tasty ramune and other snacks that are fun to munch on (and very affordable, too)
  • Other Hello Kitty items include a really cool Kitty watering can as well as various restocked Sanrio items sold only in Japan
  • We live to bring you wacky and unique things from Japan -- we have a new electric eraser that makes it easy to permanently remove pencil marks from paper, something only the Japanese could have thought of
  • For your car or home, we have a great wire clip system that makes it easy to stick anything anywhere -- trash bags in your car, holders for the things you need in your daily life, and more
  • At Japanese weddings it's customary to bring a cash gift in a beautifully decorated envelope -- we've got the envelopes in stock for you today
  • For anyone with a notebook computer, we have two positively wonderful laptop bags from Japan's top computer peripheral maker Elecom
  • Budding manga artists, we've made a major restocking of How To Draw Manga books, with all the most popular titles back in stock for you to order
  • Look for fresh stock of several Studio Ghibli items including the Totoro Collection plush toys, the No Face keychain and music box, various soft Totoro toys and more
  • We stock great Japanese films on DVD -- look for fresh stock of the wonderful Grasshoppa vol. 1, as well as Takeshi Kitano's ZATOICHI and more
  • Finally we've got an all-purpose box from Japan, more of the popular Cup Noodle coffee cups that perfectly mimic the famous Japanese staple food, and more!

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

  • For lovers of Japan's high quality 18+ magazines, we've got some great items for you, including the new issues of Penthouse Japan and Penthouse Special, featuring only Japanese models shot by Japanese photographers
  • Then enjoy the beautiful photo-magazine of Miwa Ohshiro (Oshiro), the gorgeous swimsuit idol who will make your eyes pop out of your head with her new offering
  • We've also reduced the prices of many of our magazines, starting at just $5 -- check out the great bargains we have for you
  • Photobook collectors, enjoy the sweet natural photographs of Yuuka Sawachi, which will amaze and delight you
  • For H manga fans, we've got more superb works for you, including an anthology of stories about women who go after inexperienced men, an excellent comic about female teachers, and a great new book from Pon-Takanada
  • We've also restocked several popular manga, including the Blue Eyes series, Legend of Demon Coming, and great works by the powerful manga artists Hiroyoshi Kira, Azuki Kurenai and Shiwasu no Okina
  • Yaoi fans, we have another dramatic story of boy's love by the talented Kanako Meiji
  • DVD collectors, we've got some great new items for you in time for our special sale -- starting with 4 hours of the most dynamite performances by Yui Asahina (region free)
  • Next, we've got a selection of super low-angle "Noble Legs by Costume Play," including the silky, sexy legs, stockings and high heels of many dynamite ladies
  • From SOD's best-selling Zenra series, we've got a naughty version of Swan Lake performed by extremely talented natural ballerinas -- don't miss this amazing new release! (region free)
  • Next, see the very best of SOD's popular Idol series, featuring the best wet performances by Izumi Hasegawa, Nao Oikawa, Nanami Nanase and more (region free)
  • Then from Moodyz, Cocolo fulfills all your fantasies in Illusion Hospital, a bold nurse-themed work from one of Japan's top indies studios (region 2)
  • Then enjoy an amazing sports camp where fabulous full-size girls engage in all kinds of exercises to improve their bodies and their health (region 2)
  • Finally we've got fresh stock of new DVDs, including Nao's wonderful Dream Shower, 4 Hours of Back Dynamite, All Girls' School 4 and many other titles!

Remember that J-List specializes in candy toys, miniature, affordable toys that often come with candy inside (hence the name). There are many different kinds of these great toys: realistic figures based on anime, deliciously realistic replicas of famous Japanese foods, replicas of Sony's AIBO robot dogs, and more. One series I especially love are the Furuta Star Trek replicas: extremely detailed and realistic starships from the timeless TV and movie series. They're very popular, and we ordered over 3000 of the ships two months ago, yet incredibly our stock is disappearing fast. Because we know that most collectors want to get full sets and avoid buying random duplicates, we're happy to make full sets of most items available. Browse our anime and toy pages for all these great toys that we have for you!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Greetings from J-List June 14, 2004

Hello and Happy Monday from all of us at J-List! It's a beautiful day in Japan -- a great day for a new J-List update!

The Japanese believe some interesting things about a person's blood type, mainly that it determines much of their personality. Whenever you see a profile of someone in a magazine, you can be sure that beside their birthdate, hobbies and favorite foods will be their blood type, since Japanese readers are always interested in knowing the blood types of their favorite people. Basically, type A are straight-laced, serious about everything, very organized (Felix from The Odd Couple, basically); type B are "my pace" (e.g. they go at their own pace, live in their own world), quickly get bored with things that don't interest them, and speak their minds to a fault; type O are very bold, hate to lose and have good leadership skills; and AB people are often so smart they look strange to everyone else. We saw an interesting TV show last night that attempted to break down the various personality types according to blood type. In one experiment they separated kids by blood type and asked them to move water from one aquarium to another one, them filmed the results. The type A kids used small spoons to carefully move the water from one tank to the other; the type B children tried to come up with a good way to move the water, but got bored and gave up in the middle; the type O kids lifted the first tank and poured the water into the second tank, not caring how much water they spilled on the floor in the process; and the type AB kids got smart and moved the two tanks around, so that it appeared that they'd moved the water when they hadn't actually done so.

The statistical data the show presented on blood types was interesting, too. People with blood type O tend to be quite charismatic, and some of Japan's most popular male heart throbs like SMAP member Takuya Kimura and singer/actor Masaharu Fukuyama are type O. People reported that the blood type they liked least was B (my own blood type) -- it seems that men and women with type B blood speak their minds too easily, and can offend others, making them difficult to be with. Most of the top Japanese athletes including soccer star Nakata and Yankee centerfielder Matsui were type O, and the vast majority of Japan's past Prime Ministers were also of this blood type. However, 60% of the sumo wrestlers to reach the highest rank of Yokozuna (Grand Champion) were of blood type A -- it seems it takes a meticulous nature to work your way up the top rank in Japan's traditional sport. Type B people may be the least popular with people of other blood types, but we have the highest representation at Tokyo University, Japan's top-ranked school, perhaps because we're creative and don't know what can't be done. The blood type couplings with the highest chance of divorce are two people with type A blood; couples where both have type B, or one has B and the other has O, are supposedly the happiest. Type A people are good at saving money for a rainy day; type B people waste their money on things they don't need (like me). For the record, Japanese are usually amazed that many Americans don't know their own blood type. In Japan, the interplay of blood types is always at work in any group.

J-List is proud to bring you dozens of great magazines from Japan, available each month via our revolving subscription system. We've got many great titles to choose from: all the popular anime magazines from Japan including Megumi, which comes with tons of free stuff in each issue; JPOP magazines like Zappy and Uta-BON; super cosplay magazines like Gothic & Lolita Bible and COSmode; and delightful fashion magazines like Super Cawaii and FRUiTs. We've added some great new magazines to our reserve list today, starting with Kera, a superb fashion/culture magazine that combines elements of FRUiTs and G&LB with superb and bold Tokyo street fashions. For fashion-oriented guys, we've got Smart, a super magazine of male fashion culture that comes with tons of cool stuff each month. Finally, for car enthusiasts, you can subscribe to Car Graphic and keep an eye on all that's happening in the Japanese automotive world each month. All magazines are loaded with color pictures for the Japanese-challenged, and are great ways to keep your finger on the pulse of Japan.

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

  • First, for fans of Shirow Masamune, we're happy to announce preorders for the upcoming 2nd series of glossy Galgrease posters, as well as the long-awaited art book Intron Depot 4
  • Also for Shirow lovers, two great new figures for you: Kusanagi and ManMachine, great for displaying anywhere
  • Fans of Blythe and Kubrick figures, we're happy to announce a new series of Blythe Kubrick block figures, extremely well made and very fashionable -- and full sets are in stock!
  • Then for all fans of Pokemon, we've got the ultimate toy set in stock for you -- a super set of soft vinyl figures that are fun to display or play with -- full sets are in stock for this item too (no need buy duplicates)
  • Fans of Japan's delightful swimsuit idols, we've restocked several photobooks for you, including the offerings of Yuko Ogura, Maki Goto, Yoko Kumada, and more
  • Hello Kitty lovers, we've got more cool only-sold-in-Japan items, including a great Kitty coffee cup and a way to cut your fingernails in style
  • For fans of Japanese snack items, we've got delicious, er, squid meat, along with fun grape candies, tasty tako-yaki snacks and more!
  • Restocked snack items include Relaxing Bear cookies, more Sushi Gummi that's really fun to eat, Grilled Corn Pretz and Pocari Sweat powder for making your own tasty drink!
  • Also, for fans of our best-selling Bubble Ball fizzing candies, which have been sold in Japan since the early Showa era, we've got new flavors of delicious fizzing candies with bubble gum inside -- yum!
  • For lovers of Panda-Z, the super cute panda robot who defends our happiness, we've got some new keychain mascots in stock
  • Want to master a traditional Japanese game? We've got really cool kendama toys in stock now
  • When Japanese cashiers give you change in Japan, they place it in a little dish to make it easy to pick up -- we've got these cool items in stock for you
  • For fun in the bath, we've got some great "fortune monkey" toys that pop out of a dissolving ball in the bath water
  • For fans of Japanese cars, we've got more Tomica die-cast metal vehicles for you, including the Toyota Estima and Soarer, and the popular Vitz
  • Studying Japanese? We've got fresh stock of our popular dictionaries that help you learn various aspects of the Japanese language, as well as fresh stock of traditional Japanese writing paper
  • Also, look for various restocked Japanese food miniatures, which are great to display as-is or use as food for dolls -- in stock are the Family Restaurant ver. 2 and Puchi Burger fast food replicas
  • Finally, a super way to store men's neckties, a traditional air freshener that will improve the look of your home, a deluxe shogi board for anyone who wants to learn the game, and more!

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

  • For fans of Japan's popular 18+ magazines, we've got some great new items, starting with the Diva Photo Magazine of Mihiro, the most popular new face in Japan's sexy model world -- don't miss out on this fantastic book!
  • Then we've got a great issue of Mix, featuring super sexy Tokyo girls in various fun costumes for you
  • Next up, the new issue of Hip & Lip, a superb magazine with both glossy photographs and H manga, with tons of fun stuff for you to enjoy
  • For photobook fans, check out a great new offering from Hiromi Fujishima, excellent for fans of the genre we've come to call "Japanese girls in underoos"
  • The lovely Aki Hoshino is back with a great new hardcover photobook, which will delight you as it delighted us
  • Then enjoy what Nana Natsume has for you, a superb glossy photobook of some of her best photos ever
  • We've restocked many photobook works for you too, including Mihori's dynamite books, Moe Yoshizawa's More II, Nanako Eighteen, and the dynamite low-angle photography of Miki Komori's Straddle
  • For H manga fans, we've got some super works for you, including Tropical Pudding 2 by Fujio Okamoto, a delightful new work from Mujn Comics, and from the very popular Bijogi Junction, enjoy a great new manga release that you'll love
  • For yaoi manga fans, we've got a great parody for you -- instead of Lord of the Rings, we have Lord of the Boy's Dorm
  • DVD lovers, we've got some great new titles for you today, starting with 4 hours of the best "super soapland" performances on the Million label (region free)
  • Next, SOD brings you a superb collection of all-female "MAX" performances, a super item for lovers of yuri and more (region free)
  • Also from SOD, lovely Tokyo girls experiment with various fun places to put their tongues, a superbly wacky new DVD for you (region free)
  • For fans of Japan's highly advanced stocking photography, we've got an all new "leg & hip" offering that's truly breathtaking (region free)
  • From Moodyz, a super double performance with Ann Nanba and Kirari Koizumi exploring separate worlds of pleasure (region free)
  • Finally, newly stocked DVD titles include Re-MIX 3-in-1 special releases by Marina Matsushima and Anna Ohura, 4 hours of premium back action, Ran Asakawa's super sexy performances, and more

Remember that J-List is fortunate to be able to carry the high-quality plush toys made by Sun Arrow, a Japanese toy company founded back in the Taisho era. For many years they've been the trusted partner and licensee of all Studio Ghibli toys including Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, and more. The plush toys they create are the best we've ever seen, soft to touch and furry to hold, and of such high quality we know you'll treasure these for years to come.