Friday, June 25, 2004

Greetings from J-List June 25, 2004

Hello again from all your friends at J-List!

There's no doubt about it: living in Japan will make you a better driver. The combination of driving on narrow roads with many twists and turns, dodging pedestrians walking along the streets that are too narrow for sidewalks, and parking rear-end first into tiny parking spaces, will polish your driving skills so much that you'll get compliments when you go back home. There's one problem though -- living in Japan will also make you forget anything you ever knew about your car's engine. Because cars here must receive a special check-up (called "sha-ken") every two years, it's customary for drivers to leave every minor technical aspect of their car's performance up to their car dealer or local mechanic. Even simple things like tune-ups and oil changes are nearly always left to professionals. The only time I've even lifted the hood (which the Japanese call the "bonnet," borrowing the British term) is when a cat managed to climb into my car's engine compartment to sleep, only to be ripped to ribbons when I started my car.

One of the biggest changes I've seen in Japan in the thirteen years I've lived here is a major opening of the economy to products from the outside. When I got here in 1992, finding a store that sold Doritos was a major find, and the only non-Japanese beer in the whole country was Bud. Now Japan is a much more open place, with many new products from America and Europe easily available in Japanese stores. However, some of the foreign brands in Japan aren't new at all, but have been here for decades. P&G (Proctor & Gamble) has been here for thirty years, so long that Japanese don't really consider brands like Pampers and Whisper to be a foreign at all. McDonald's is another company that started early in Japan -- I've actually been asked by Japanese if they have McDonald's in America. But perhaps the foreign brand most familiar to Japanese is Switzerland's Nestle. They entered the Japanese market officially back in 1961, and as a result nearly all their products, from Ritz Crackers to Oreos to Kit Kat, enjoy dominant positions in Japan. In 2001 they ran a 40th anniversary commemorative TV commercial, showing clips from all their past commercials for Nescafe instant coffee. It was pretty cool.

J-List is your source for quality T-shirts with wacky Japanese messages on them, and we've got dozens of bizarre and fun shirts for you to choose from, from the very racy to the merely hilarious. Today we've got two new shirts for you: super cute "face" shirts of our Domo-kun parody shirt and of a soft and fluffy anime favorite, Totoro. These original shirts are printed on quality 6.1 lb T-shirts which look and feel great, and they're printed with the highest quality screenprinting method for longest life. Check out our new designs!

We had another problem with our RSS feed not updating -- but it's really been fixed this time. Now you can track newly updated J-List products with any standard RSS/XML reader.

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

  • First, for fans of Japan's highly developed culture of cosplay, that is, dressing up in super-cute costumes, we've got the new issue of Gothic & Lolita Bible, featuring tons of photos and information on gothlife, complete with patterns you can use to make outfits and a deck of gothic playing cards
  • For Star Wars fans, we've got a great only-sold-in-Japan set of incredibly detailed diorama toys -- full sets are available, but stock is limited
  • Look for another major restocking of Domo-kun products, including the Domo-kun mini mascot, the Domo plush keychain, the deluxe Domo plush toy (medium) that is the best-selling Domo item hands down, and much more
  • It's hard to live in Japan without falling in love with at least a couple members of Morning Musume, the JPOP group that holds Japan it sway -- we have a great hardcover photobook featuring the lovely Mari Yaguchi
  • For fans of My Melody, one of the most popular Sanrio characters all over the world, we've got a great treat: a "decoration mug cup" that will make everyone at work envy you
  • We love to sell cool things that represent Japan to us -- one such item are the timeless "Kimono Licca-chan" series, featuring Takara's famous fashion doll in traditional Japanese outfits. We have a nice summer yukata version of Licca in stock today
  • For fans of our Japanese snack treats, enjoy delicious soy sauce flavored rice crackers (yum), tasty bonito fish you can eat right out of the pack, and delicious gummy treats from Meiji that contain real fruit juice
  • Also, look for many restocked items, including Wata Gum which looks like cotton candy, delicious "Fruit of the Bubble" gum, Charcoal Roasted Coffee Candy, and our popular cold-water mugi-cha (barley tea) bags for summer
  • Also, a dynamite item from Japan: famous rice crackers that come with Kabuki Frog keychain mascots, the famous Frog Style character with gorgeously painted kabuki faces
  • Summer to the Japanese means going to festivals and playing "Kinyo Sukui" or "Save the Goldfish," a game where you have to catch goldfish with paper scoops -- we've got some fun goldfish toy items for you today, including a complete goldfish game you can play with your kids
  • Another fun item for summer: a Hello Kitty water pistol, complete with Kitty and her rubber ducky
  • We've restocked our popular Dr. Ion pens that come with massage tips for tired shoulders
  • Then, enjoy a level of style only available from Japan with MagCatch Pen Stand, a quality aluminum pen with a heavy magnetic base that holds your pen securely, ready for you to to reach for it
  • Make sure your family's chopsticks are always hand with our deluxe chopstick holders, which both dry chopsticks and hold them for you
  • We have another nice item for summer: charcoal wind-chimes, which make a lovely sound when the breeze blows
  • Do you love the stylish kogal Pinky figures? We've restocked the Pinky Street figure + photobook set for you
  • We've got more cute Japanese character memo pads, including the super cute Usa Hana (OO-sa HAH-na) and Shinkansen characters from Sanrio
  • Finally, look for even more uniquely Japanese ways to clean your ears, more Japanese pens with very fine points for precision, a way to keep your washing machine clean, and more!

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

  • For fans of gorgeous Japanese women, we've got the new issue of Gal's Dee, featuring girls with a side D or larger cup, like Ami Sakuragi (98 cm G cup)
  • Also, the premier issue of Gal Max, featuring gorgeous girls aged 18-24
  • We have a new issue of Cho Very Good!! The Movie, a super all-kogal magazine featuring a 2 hour DVD of sample quickies for you
  • When Yasu told us he'd found the perfect beauty, we didn't believe him, but he was right: Reon Kadena's new all-natural photobook is simply amazing, and we recommend it highly
  • We've also restocked several photobooks, including Kyoko Fukada's dynamite gothic photobook release (Tomo is a big fan of Fuka-Kyon)
  • We have some super new H manga for you, including Dogu, a super exploration of the mind of ecchi manga creator Dozamura, as well as AC Comic's Lying Body and an excellent work by Yoshimitsu Kura
  • Restocked manga include all volumes of the popular Pururun Seminar series, Heroine Insult, P-Total Bio Chemical, Futanarikko Love and more -- check them all out
  • Yaoi lovers, we've got a nice new manga for you by Be Boy Comics and Kazusa Takashima
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great titles for you in time for the end of our special "Thanks Sale" -- starting with the lovely "Fresh Pleasure" of Kyoko Nakajima (region free)
  • Next, enjoy more Woman Announcer Insult Play, in which four elegant newscasters (announcers) insult and punish each other (region free)
  • Next, two gay men do battle with the gorgeous small-bodied Kaori Kobayakawa in an extremely stylish performance (region free)
  • Natural girls from around Japan show off their bodies in a new release from Hajime Planning -- this time see the lovely girls from Japan's northern Tohoku region (region free)
  • From Moodyz, enjoy a "6P" (manage a six) with three gorgeous Japanese women and three big black guys from the USA (2 discs, region 2)
  • Then from the famous studio Waap Entertainment, enjoy some good Japanese "Gock n' Roll" with lots of fun "gokkun" themed performances for you, performed by Momo Iizawa (region 2)
  • Finally, we have some great newly restocked DVDs including some classic all-girl indies DVD titles, fresh stock of Gold Bird and Euro Angels, some new "Concentration" DVD releases, and more!

Remember that J-List stocks the delightfully meticulous classic food replica items from Re-Ment and other companies, which recreate famous food of the world -- sushi, Japanese traditional dishes, desserts of the world, delicious food items from a miniature supermarket -- in such detail you won't believe they're not edible (you even get little silverware/chopsticks). Great for display or for use as play food for dolls. Full sets of all items are available, so you don't need to worry about getting duplicates and throwing them away.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Greetings from J-List June 23, 2004

Hello again from all your friends in Japan!

Now that the ban on Japanese cultural imports has been lifted in South Korea, there's lots of evidence of sharing of culture between the two nations. More and more Korean stars are becoming commonplace on Japanese TV, like my favorite, the lovely Yoon Son Ha (her Korean-Japanese accent is so cute). The popular South Korean war film Brotherhood (in Korean, Taegukgi Hwinalrimyeo) is playing in theatres in Japan right now, and when Korean actor Bin Won came to Japan to promote the movie he was surprised to see 500 screaming Japanese fans at the airport to see him. We're glad to see this new cultural sharing between South Korea and Japan and hope to see more of it in the future.

Japan is experiencing a real "bug boom" right now, as millions of elementary school kids learn everything they can about various kinds of beetles like the Goliath Beetle, Rhinoceros Beetle, Eastern Hercules Beetle and a Japanese variety called Ookuwagata. Part of the interest in bugs is being fueled by the popularity of Mushi King ("Bug King"), an arcade game by Sega which spits out a bar-coded insect card that kids use to fight other 3D animated insects. My son loves this game and has a complete collection of the cards, which have information about the bugs printed on them. Last weekend we took the kids to a nearby Insect Zoo which happened to sell various kinds of beetles, and sure enough, my kids conned us into buying two of them as pets. We're now the proud owners of two red-backed Ookuwagata, which sleep in their cage in a dark corner of my son's room.

There's a fun game Japanese kids play, called Shiritori (lit. "take the rear end") Game. To play, someone thinks of a word -- say, chopsticks, which is "hashi" in Japanese. Then the next person takes the last syllable -- "shi" -- and thinks of a word that starts with this syllable, say, "shika" (deer). The next person continues, with a word that starts with "ka" and so on. In Japanese phonetics, the only consonant that can appear by itself without a noun after it is the letter "n", so in Shiritori Game, saying a word that ends in "n" (such as lion, "raion" in Japanese) ends the game for that person. This game is played by virtually all children in Japan and is a fun way for kids (or gaijin) to pick up and reinforce vocabulary words. It's a great game to play in the car, too.

We love Japan's interactive dating-sim games, which are a huge category of software here -- approximately 25% of all software in Japan are interactive love-sim games of one kind or another. Today we're announcing preorders for two upcoming games from Hirameki, which are DVD games that will play with any standard DVD player, as well as PC/Mac with DVD drives or Sony Playstation/Xbox. In Hourglass of Summer, you suddenly "timeslip" to the end of summer vacation, surprised to learn that your girlfriend Kaho has been killed in an accident the day before. Can you save her by finding a way to go back in time? An adventure of a lifetime, a summer that crosses the boundaries of space and time. Then in Tea Society of a Witch, you must interact with three magical beings and find a way to allow humans to once again live in peace with the mages of the World of Magic. Two great non-H interactive anime games!

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

  • First, we've got a real treat for Shirow Masamune fans -- the new Intron Depot figure set, series 3, featuring his amazing original characters and lovely females, who come alive as high quality soft vinyl figures for you
  • Then for Ultraman fans, we've got newly recreated sets of the dynamite Ultraman Bobblehead toys, with excellent sets in stock for you to buy
  • The gorgeous Tamao Sato appears in a fabulous new "Monthly" photobook (although they don't come out monthly so this name is meaningless) -- shot against a traditional Japanese background, she is really lovely
  • Want to add a touch of Japan to your kitchen? We have dynamite all-purpose containers for holding sugar, coffee, or just about anything -- they feature the super cute Hello Kitty and Teddy the Teddy and My Melody
  • Also for Kitty fans, we've got some great oil-removing sheets for you, which allow you to remove excess oil from your face, featuring super Kitty-chan designs
  • Another fun Sanrio item: a super elastic My Melody toy that you can stretch, punch and squeeze to relieve stress
  • Interested in Japanese cosplay? Enjoy some great restocked items including Goth Loli vol. 2, loaded with great photographs of gorgeous goth outfits and more
  • Enjoy one of my favorite things in the world, a nice dip in a hot springs bath, with new onsen powder we've got in stock for you
  • For fans of the super cute character series Frog Style, we have a dynamite treat for you: sets of extremely colorful lemon ramune candy, with outrageous and cool designs on each one, available as a set for collectors
  • We've got some great snack items for you today including delicious "Lemon and Pepper" flavored Pretz, a classic Japanese rice cracker that we highly recommend, and a selection of fun low-priced treats you can try out
  • Restocked snack items include more traditional Okinawan Black Candy (Kuro Ame), tasty miso soup, restocked flavors of Pretz, sake candy, and one of my favorite items, Poiful fruit-flavored jelly beans
  • We also have restocked gum for you: sugar-free Black Black with Xylitol, Blue Berry and Plum gum, and tasty "Watering Kiss Mint" that quenches your thirst
  • Godzilla fans, we've got a cool new trading card series based on the new movie -- they are really cool!
  • Got milk? Then you need Futayaky-kun, handy milk sealing clips that allow milk in paper cartons to last longer
  • For fans of CLAMP, the manga artists who created Cardcaptor Sakura, Rayearth and Chobits, we've got fresh stock of their dynamite new manga
  • Totoro fans, we've restocked some awesome items for you, including the deluxe large-size Totoro cuckoo clock, several soft Totoro plush toys, and the excellent Totoro aluminum bento box
  • Domo-kun fans, we haven't forgotten you -- we've got fresh stock of several of the most popular Domo items, including the large plush Domo-kun, the large and medium Domo cube plushes, and more
  • We've also got more traditional Japanese dishes for you, including a very convenient miso soup bowl
  • Finally look for more great Hello Kitty items including the awesome Sanrio Ice Cube Tray and fresh stock of the Kitty Desktop Vacuums, restocked fude pens for brush writing, and more.
  • For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
  • For fans of Japan's delightful H magazines, we've got the Shuffle, with authentic Tokyo girls in love hotels and great photography
  • Then enjoy the popular Japanese magazine that features girls from the U.S. and Eastern Europe, including some girls who are hard to find
  • From the lens of Hiraokanovsky Kuratachenko, the parodically Russian-ified pen name of Japanese photographer Hirano Kurata, a great new Joytoy series book with bold mix of communist and Asian sexy imagery
  • Also very cool, we've got the new photobook of Momo Mizutani, with loads of luscious photographs of one of Japan's most gorgeous ladies
  • We have a great restocking of popular photobooks, too, including great offerings from Kaoru, Ran Asakawa, Yoko Matsugane, Yuko Ogawa and more
  • For Japan's H manga fans and collectors, we've got some dynamite new works for you, including the amazing new WANT from Tenma Comics, a superb "Twin Tail" anthology manga, and an interesting work exploring the nature of infidelity
  • Also, we've got another great restocking of manga for you, including Female Panther 1-4, Neo Gentle Casty, the Illustrated Maya Miyazaki, What? - N? and many more great books
  • We have some dynamite new DVDs for you, starting with 4 hours of "ii onna" (lit. "good woman," i.e. especially beautiful women performing for you (region free)
  • Then, a great title from Hajime Planning, famous Japanese AV director asks beautiful Tokyo girls to get their friends to be in a video, in a great new "Best Friends Series" release (region free)
  • Then from SOD's Hibino label, enjoy a new concept: "The Wife who put on the Swimming Suit," a fun hitozuma themed offering (region free)
  • From Deep's, a Female Hospital Memorial featuring the most moments of their popular all-woman nurse concept series (region free)
  • Moodyz brings you a great new offering, Leg & Foot Infinity, a great collection of amazing high-end themes that you will enjoy watching (region 2)
  • Then from Waap Entertainment, a great new "gokkun" themed release, featuring amazing and experienced women who perform for you (region 2)
  • Finally, look for many restocked DVDs, including Mai Hagiwara's great recent titles, Hiyori Shiraishi's Masterpiece Concentration release, Aoi Sora's Devil's Training, and more!

J-List carries over 2000 unique products from Japan, from full sets of cool miniature toys from Japan, to unique Totoro and Hello Kitty products to cool Shirow Masamune collectibles, we've got something for everyone. But there's one reality about Japan: although you may have heard that Japanese businessmen are long-range planners, in reality virtually all of the products we sell have very limited production runs. Most items can't be ordered through our distributors once the initial stock is gone, which invariably causes frustration for customers who waited to get the item they wanted. Our advice is when you see something cool on our site, get it before it disappears. Similarly, we're always closing out our popular wacky Japanese T-shirts so that we can make room for new designs. If you've got your eye on a T-shirt or three, don't wait to get them!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Greetings from J-List June 21, 2004

Hello again from all of your friends in Japan!

It's typhoon time in Japan, as typhoon no. 6 meanders its way across the Pacific to touch down in central Japan, right where we are. Typhoons are a big problem, but they usually hit in September -- this is a rare storm to be coming this early in the season. We're battening down all the hatches here...

Coca Cola's new C2 is coming to the U.S. this summer, but it's out here in Japan already. A reformulating of Coke with half the sugar and half the carbs, it's basically a retread of a 1990s Japanese product, Coke Light, which the company brought out here after Diet Coke failed to win over Japanese consumers. (They thought it tasted like medicine.) While some of the J-List staff have taken to drinking C2, I'll stick to drinking mugi-cha (barley tea), a favorite of most Japanese and a delicious natural drink in the summer. We have cold-brew barley tea bags in stock if you'd like to try some.

Although Japan is famous for sake (sah-kay, remember, try not to say saki if you can avoid it), or distilled rice wine, the national beverage of Japan is definitely beer. Japan's beer market is dominated by the four major breweries, Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory, who introduce dozens of new beers per year in an attempt to win market share from the others: beer with double the carbonation, blends of dark and light beers, beers brewed for women, and season-limited beers such as Sapporo's A Winter's Tale and Kirin's Taste of Autumn. There are actually two kinds of beer sold in Japan: regular beer and "happoshu," a low-malt beverage that's taxed at a lower rate than beer, so it's a lot cheaper (but I don't like the taste). Although there have been some inroads made by microbreweries in Japan, by and large the major breweries have not made much impact in Japan. Part of the problem is that the Japanese government, which is dependent on a steady stream of beer taxes, is not willing to grant licenses to small companies that might not pay their taxes. Whenever you enjoy a frosty beer in Japan you always have "otsumami," a word which means any food you munch on with your beer. There are many foods to choose from: beef jerky, rice crackers with peanuts, cheese with dried cod strips, or if you're feeling adventurous, dried, shredded squid, which seems to taste better the longer one lives in Japan.

The most profitable Disney theme park in the world is Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in 1983 and has broken all records for money-making for the Disney theme parks (oops, I mean "resorts"). The Japanese penchant for spending money on souvenirs for family members, called "omiyage," helps push this profitability up. Japan has a second theme park to enjoy now, too: DisneySea, centered around themes of the sea. The park features a volcano, a replica of Agrabah from Aladdin, a fun under-the-sea area for younger kids, a cruise ship, a "jet coaster" (as they say in Japan) based on Journey to the Center of the Earth, and even a hotel where you can get married right inside the park (for all the Japanese "Disney otaku" who really love Disney characters). When we went to the park last year, my son commented that it was "kakko warui" (unstylish, uncool) for Mickey Mouse to speak Japanese when he should be speaking English.

Thanks for all the warm feedback on our problem with our graphic images -- we really love being able to serve such an excellent group of individuals around the world! Now that the J-List graphics are back to normal, remember we're having a one-week special "Thanks Sale" to say thanks to everyone for their patience. Get a special 20% discount on 4 or more DVDs, or a whopping discount of 25% on 4 or more English dating-sim games.

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

  • First, for fans of the amazing Chobits anime and manga by CLAMP, we have a superb high-end set of Chobits candy toys (shokugan) featuring the incredibly beautiful female characters (full sets are in stock)
  • Want to keep your desk clean? We recommend our cute Hello Kitty desk vacuum cleaners, which allow you to clean up dirt, dust and more from your desk and keep it looking clean -- plus they're great for displaying
  • Also for fans of Kitty items not available outside of Japan, we have a great Hello Kitty tissue cover that fits over any long box of tissue
  • We're big fans of the Pinky character toys from Vance Project, extremely cool super deformed anime figures -- to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Gainax, we've got some Pinky Cosplay figures featuring Asuka and Rei from Evangelion -- so cool!
  • Are you a fan of Japan's wonderful cars? We've got more Tomica die-cast metal vehicles that are great to collect and display -- newly added are the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the new Honda Odyssey
  • For fans of our tasty Japanese snack items, we've got delicious Endomame Pretz, tasty maguro snacks, pretzel sticks with the tasty flavor of green soybeans that are eaten as a snack with beer
  • Also, look for cream soda Hi-Chew Kids, a delicious variation on beef jerky (heh heh), and more dynamite fizzing bubble ball bubble gum
  • Restocked snack items include several varieties of Shigekix (the delicious super-tart gummi treats), Mobi snack cookies, various flavors of Lotte chewing gum, and more
  • Enjoy the dynamite photographs of Mariko Takeda, a gorgeous and stylish model from the fashion magazine SuperCawaii (SCawaii), in her new photobook
  • Like wacky Japanese English? We've got a set of all-purpose canvas bags that are rife with funny English
  • Next we have two very uniquely Japanese ways to clean your ears, with ring-style cotton swabs and soft Japanese "cleaning hooks" that feel great
  • Brighten your computer area with a single beautiful flower -- we've got a handy flower holder from Hanako Style
  • Studying Japanese? We have fresh stock of great flashcards that make it fun to learn basic words and greetings, as kids do, as well as more katakana flashcards and 1st grade kanji study books
  • Learning to make bento as the Japanese do? We've got more wiener shapers, which allow you to turn sausages into penguins, crabs, tulips and more
  • For fans of the super cute Pinky Street figures, little super deformed high school figures, we've restocked the Special Box, which includes a photobook with two figures
  • Finally, we have a great box for storing anything, restocked authentic chopsticks from Japan, and many more cool items for you!

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

  • For fans of our excellent JAV magazines, we have the dynamite new issues of Best Video and Video Boy, the great monthly magazines for fans of the Japanese video industry
  • We've also got the new issue of Gotcha, featuring super Tokyo girls in gorgeous love hotels
  • For photobook fans, we've got some really special items for you today, including Hikaru Koto's fabulous glossy offering showing her in her best naughty pictures ever
  • Also, Aya Kudo will amaze and delight you with her gorgeous photobook offering
  • For H manga fans, a superb new work from Mujin Comics featuring amazing themes of hermaphroditism and more, as well as the super office love story by Nuku Nuku Heart and a Love Song of Angels
  • Also, we've got a major restocking of manga for you too, including the great futanari manga Buttagiri Sisters, Sleeping Doll, Madam Hisae's Diary, How To Make a Widow, and many more
  • Also for yaoi lovers, we have a great new story about love, life and barriers
  • For our DVD customers, enjoy some amazing new titles for you, starting with the Complete AV Actress performance by Nao., the silky and sexy starlet who always puts a period after her name (region free)
  • Then see the real on-camera performance of girls from Hungary, as Japanese actors and film crews capture the most beautiful girls of that country for you (region free)
  • Next-up, a great DVD for fans of she-male love (e.g. Mr. Lady), gorgeous girls who also pack meat (region free)
  • We've got another bold "anatomy study" with girls from famous cabaret clubs, brought to you by Soft on Demand (region free)
  • From Moodyz, see the very best of the their Superuma Rezu series, featuring gorgeous girls on camera for you (region 2)
  • Then, enter Tokyo's super disco world and experience dancin' vixens who lose all inhibitions when they get out on the dance floor (region 2)
  • Also, for fans of Yulia Nova's amazing and graceful body, we've got good news -- the 2nd DVD is back from the duplicators and in stock now, ready for your immediate order
  • Finally a great restocking of popular DVD titles, including Noa Torigoe's Beautiful Leg, Mai Sakashita's Female Teacher, lots of Tekoki and more, Kyoko Ayana's dynamite 4 hours special, and more!

Remember that J-List carries dozens of the coolest magazines from Japan, with regular subscriptions available via our Reserve Subscription system. Interested in the mysterious world of Japanese cosplay? We recommend Gothic & Lolita Bible and COSmode, both of which feature real sewing patterns in the back that you can use to make costumes. Interested in JPOP music? Why not get a subscription to Zappy, which comes with a CD in every issue, or the excellent Uta Bon, which prints sheet music from the most popular songs in Japan. Want to keep an eye on Japan's high tech world? Then I recommend one of my favorite magazines, Goods Press, which shows you what's hip in the world of electronics, men's fashion and Zippo lighters each month.