Each country in the world has what the Japanese call kokumin-sei, a kind of "national personality" or a list of traits that most people from that country tend to share. For example, Americans are optimistic almost to fault, believing that virtually any problem can be solved. The Japanese komumin-sei is quite unique, too. In general, Japanese tend to be very peaceful, and go out of their way to avoid conflict with others. They're concerned with the image Japan presents to the world, and some major construction projects such as Japan's first bullet trains were done partially to make foreigners oo and ah when they came for the 1968 Tokyo Olympics. Also, most Japanese tend to be extremely modest, and it can be surprising when Westerners compliment a Japanese on their English ability, only to have them vehemently deny the compliment. In my single days, I traveled all around Japan, hitchhiking or riding trains (there's a cool ticket called Seishun 18 which lets you ride as far as you want for $24, a bargain as long as you don't mind riding the slow local trains). Once, I encountered a boy and his mother while traveling near Hiroshima, and as we talked, the boy was going on and on about how "baka" (stupid) he was, so stupid that he'd never amount to anything. It surprised me to hear anyone talk like this about himself, much less an educated youth from one of the world's richest countries, but I realized later it was a kind of polite self-effacing that didn't mean much. Still, personal modesty is an amazing and sometimes surprising aspect of the Japanese.
The Japanese use quite a lot of English in their daily lives, but not usually for communication: it's more of a decoration, since English always sounds "kakko ii" (cool) to Japanese. Like the Sony Walkman and Swatch watches, English is used in cute ways to appeal to consumers; there are products with names like Charmy Green (a dishwashing soap), Melty Kiss (a delicious chocolate fudge sold in the Winter), Perky Bit (fried chicken nuggets), Cook-Do! (a line of boil-in-bag Chinese meals), and Supporty (support pantyhose). The English word "the" is thrown around quite a lot, too, added to products names and events (Ito Yokado, the largest department store chain here, has an annual sales event called "The Sale"). English can also be found in plentiful amounts on beer cans ("this beer is made with the most quality hops"), camera bags ("with you for the best scenes of your life") and sport utility vehicles ("the Earth is not only for a human").
We've added a new category to the J-List site: Traditional Japanese Items, where we'll be featuring many cool items from Japan with a traditional or cultural flare. We've moved several of the sub-categories out of the "Wacky things from Japan" section into the new Traditional category. From traditional Japanese "geta" shoes to bento boxes, chopsticks and much more, look for some really great items for you in this new category!
For the Saturday update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for Shirow fans, we're happy to announce that volume 2 of Jashin Hunter (aka Beast Hunter), the amazing Japanese novel illustrated by Shirow, has been reprinted and is back in stock after many months
- We have some great new soft vinyl figures for you, incredibly detailed and fun to display in your room
- For manga fans all around the world, we have the new issue of Gekkan Dengeki Gao, a fabulous monthly manga with 500+ pages of top-notch stories and art in it
- Next, enjoy a great photobook offering with the CoComina Girls, super cute and charming
- Then we have a bargain edition of Seasonal S, featuring the most incredible artwork and imagery you've seen
- For fans of video games, a really cool full set of Capcom classic game figure gashapon (capsule toys)
- Gundam Seed fans, we've got some cool items for you too, great for collectors
- We're happy with the incredible popularity of our Furuta Star Trek ship sets -- we've got a new set in stock too, a set of 8 different incredibly detailed ships with display bases
- We love the super cute Panda Z -- enjoy a new "punching panda" figure in stock now, as well as fresh stock of other items
- For anyone studying Japanese, we've got fresh stock of the popular kanji toilet paper, with kanji to study while you squat -- makes a great gift too!
- Eva fans, we've got fresh stock of the dynamite Asuka Summer Version soft vinyl figure, guaranteed to brighten any room
- For fans of our delicious Japanese snacks, enjoy tasty bitter chocolate wafers, gun gummy candy with fruit juice inside, great melon gum, and more
- For jet-setters, we have a cool stainless steel pocket watch with protector that makes it easy to tell time around the world
- For your desk, a wacky and fun way to keep clean -- little "desk sweepers" that remove dust and eraser bits for you
- Enjoy a major restocking of many popular Totoro and Studio Ghibli items, including character magnets, cute stamps, soft character replicas, keychains and plush toys
- We've added stock of Japan Hot Wheels too, as well as additional sets of Re-Ment miniature food toys that had gone out of stock
- For anyone who'd love to try traditional Japanese soba this summer, we have a great deluxe summer soba set including tray, cup, ingredients holder and more
- Finally, look for cool colored glue sticks, more wonderful wedding gift envelopes that are just gorgeous, wacky "hachimaki" headbands, and more!
- For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products. They include:
For fans of our 18+ magazines, enjoy the pure angels of Girl's Club, a double-thick magazine for you
- Next, we have the new issue of Deka Melon, featuring nothing but fabulous Race Queens being bag
- H manga fans, we have some great offerings for you, including an amazing new work by Sengoku-kun, the super Sinful Days of illustrator Ren, and more
- Also, an amazing large-size manga/art book by Drill Murata, featuring some of his most amazing artwork yet
- For our DVD customers, some nice new works too, including a treatment of the Japanese genre of "tekoki" as only Soft on Demand can do it (region free)
- Then enjoy a fantastic a bold "super angle" DVD of Mika Kitagawa, who performs for you, a great multi-angle DVD release from TMA (region free)
- Also, we have a bold new "study" genre DVD by Moodyz in which six beautiful Tokyo girls engage in some interesting studies for the camera (region 2)
- Finally, look for various restocked DVD for you, and more!
Remember that J-List carries a full line of Japanese snack foods, with many rare cult favorites in stock for you, like Japanese sushi gummi, Black Black caffeine gum, Toppo, and also the delicious and popular Felix the Cat bubble gum, which is famous all the world over. If you check the snack page you may notice that we don't have any Pocky in stock now. The reason for this is that Japan is extremely hot in the summer, and any Pocky we stocked would turn into a big melty block of chocolate. We'll have Pocky back in stock as soon as Japan cools down, and in the meantime, we hope you'll enjoy the 200+ items we still have for you now.
Also note that J-List carries a great item this summer: "towelkets," large blanket-sizes cotton towels that are a truly amazing Japanese invention. Useful as both a large, absorbent towel as well as a light blanket for the summer, the Hello Kitty towelkets we have in to stock right now are really excellent. Check them out!