Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Greetings from J-List July 14, 2004

Hello again from Japan, where buildings have funny names like "Apartment Cream Soda." We apologize for the delay with the mail server -- this is yesterday's update, going out today. The server is fixed so all should be fine in the future.

Whenever you learn a language, you have to deal with the fact that words in one language don't always match up with words on a second one. A simple concept like "cold" in English is covered with two words in Japanese, samui for coldness of the air around you and tsumetai for something that's cold to the touch. Similarly, the word for cold water is mizu, but hot water (o-yu) is a totally different linguistic concept, just as "curb" and "curve" are separate ideas to us but the same to the Japanese. Some Japanese words have complex nuances that make them fun to learn. The English word "heart" has three words in Japanese: shinzo (the part of you that's beating now), haato (the English word heart, which describes the heart shape and is used in songs and advertising to signify affection and gentleness), and kokoro (a word encompassing the philosophical elements of the human heart, similar to "spirit" or "mind"). Another word that can't be translated easily is "love." There are two words for the concept in Japanese: koi, which is young, romantic love and ai, a word for the deeper love between family members, or a husband and wife who have been married many years. A third word for love, ren'ai, is the kanji for koi and ai used to form a compound word similar to the romantic koi. If you ever want to fluster a Japanese person, ask them to define the difference between words like koi and ai in English, then sit back and watch them flounder.

Although you may think of certain foods as sushi, sashimi, tempura and sukiyaki as popular Japanese dishes, the national food of Japan has got to be curry, or as the Japanese call it, curry rice. Curry spread to Britain during the 1700s and from there went all around the world, a gift from the British Empire. In Japan, curry is eaten on steamed white rice, and became popular at the start of the 20th century -- and now it's enjoyed more than any other kind of food. Japanese curry is thicker than the soup-like Indian curry, and many companies here compete to make the best blend of curry to appeal to consumers, making products with names like House The Curry, Vermont Curry, and Java Curry. Although Thai food is quite popular in America, it's not very common here in Japan outside of big cities -- but Indian restaurants are everywhere here.

It's common for bilingual speakers to switch between languages when they know the person they're speaking to will understand either one; this is called "code switching." Sometimes kids do it accidentally, because they haven't learned which words go with which language. When my kids were younger, they often would use English words with the Japanese teachers at their preschool, causing confusion. I remember when my son Kazuki went to the local public bath with me, back when he was two years old or so. He told me that the cold-water bath was "cold-katta." I didn't understand what he meant, but then it hit me: he had mixed the English word cold with the past tense ending in Japanese (-katta). The Japanese for "it was cold" would have been tsumeta-katta. My son is now nine, and is looking forward to spending three weeks in San Diego relearning the English he learned last summer but has since forgotten.

Of the 2000+ products J-List has for you, we offer hundreds of varieties of fun Japanese snacks, from traditional "bubble ball" fizzing candies that have been loved by Japanese for decades to super tart Shigekix gummi candies. Due to the extreme heat and humidity of Japan in the summer months, we remove chocolate products like Pocky temporarily to keep them from melting. Usually we have to go all summer without any Pocky on the site, however we're happy to announce a new Pocky, called Pocky Reverse, that features cookie on the outside and chocolate on the inside (so it won't melt). We've got this amazing new taste on the site right now -- order 5 or more boxes and get a 15% discount, too.

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

  • First, we love the detailed miniature toys that are popular in Japan right now, called "candy toys" because you usually get candy inside the box -- newly in stock are replicas of miniature Japanese gardens, great for all gaijin
  • Hello Kitty fans, we have a great set of Kitty glasses that are ultra cute and fun to drink out of
  • Also for Kitty lovers, super cute plush Kitty plush chair protectors that keep your chairs from scratching the floor
  • In addition to the new Pocky, we've got other great snacks for you, including whistling ramune candy that's been sold in Japan for decades, tasty chicken corn snacks, and more
  • We've got a great restocking of snack items too, including Black Black Tablet caffeine candy and gum, Pretz Roast flavor (my own favorite), more Sushi Gummi, delicious sake candy and Okinawa Black Sugar caramels from Morinaga
  • For fans of Japanese chewing gum, delicious new whitening gum from Lotte that has Xylitol in it (this is a famous sweetener from Norway that improves the strength of teeth)
  • We love the aesthetic beauty of kanji, and have cool framed kanji messages in stock for you, very traditional and cool
  • Delight your guests by giving them a clean, unopened toothbrush just for them -- we have packs of these convenient disposable toothbrushes in stock
  • Next, are you learning how to use chopsticks? We recommend the beginners chopsticks we have, very easy to practice with
  • From Jun Planning, a dynamite full-sized doll in their Pullip line, best described as "Blythe meets Gothic & Lolita Bible"
  • Next, more items for Japanese Girl Nagomi fans -- beautiful station sets featuring the artwork of Seiichi Hayashi
  • For fans of unique computer products from Japan, we've got new "Bit Grast" portable USB mice in stock, along with the excellent beige laptop case from Elecom
  • Also, fresh stock of the popular Groomy line of computer plush pets -- they're soft and cute and have soft leather undersides which you can clean your computer monitor with
  • Then we have some awesome Japanese headbands for you with messages like "I will Pass the Test"
  • For smaller sized customers, we have the excellent Japanese tattoo shirts which will make you look like a real yakuza
  • Fans of the very popular Go Go Pinky Street toy + photobook series, we've restocked this for you too
  • Finally, cute characters in the "Usagi Collection" series, excellent sushi erasers, more funny signs for your car, and more!

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

  • For fans of one of Japan's most famous video genres, we have the new Gal's Shower, a great new issue for you (but stock is limited)
  • Fans of gorgeous women from Europe and North America, enjoy the new issue of Bachelor, filled with amazing photographs from around the world
  • For photobook lovers, we have a dynamite offering by Sakura Shiratori, an amazing angel from Japan
  • Then enjoy the superb bikini photos of Yoko Kumada, one of our favorite cute idols in Japan right now
  • Also, we've got fresh stock of at least a dozen previously sold out magazines and photobooks on the site, including some $5 magazines and many rare photobooks that are out of print
  • For H manga collectors, we have the long-awaited vol. 7 of Blue Eyes, filled with incredibly gorgeous artwork and stories by Tohru Nishimaki
  • Also, other dynamite new manga works, including a new Female Panther series book and a great work from Winterlong, "I cannot shout love at the bottom in the world"
  • We've got a bunch of restocked manga for you too, with a dozen or more excellent works like Michael Plan, Oshiri ni Oborete and Shining Musume, back in stock for you to order
  • Yaoi lovers, we've also got a great item for you, with the new issue of b-Boy Luv, featuring works from nine different talented manga artists and 240+ pages
  • For our DVD customers, we have some dynamite items for you, starting with 4 hours of the elegant and popular Karen Kisuragi's performance, by Million (region free)
  • From Dogma, enjoy a great "triple manko" offering with three gorgeous JAV idols (region free)
  • From SOD's Hibino label, the triumphant return of Miki Sawaguchi, a star who was famous when J-List was getting started back in 1996 -- she's back again and as gorgeous as ever (region free)
  • Then enjoy a whopping 240 minutes of the best scenes of Kyoko Ayana, a bright and cheerful F cup angel from Japan (region free)
  • Next, meet Rin. (another girl who always puts a period as part of her name, like Nao. and Morning Musume.), a bright and energetic girl who will delight you (region 2)
  • Then from Moodyz, see the unbelievably cool Naughty Dancing Queens of Tokyo's top-name discos, a real treat to see (region 2)
  • Finally, enjoy some great newly restocked DVDs, including Momo Iizawa's Gock'n Roll, Miki vs. Black Guys, Mirei as an "M" actress, and more low-cost Concentration DVD titles.

J-List customers tell us the #1 way they hear of us is through recommendations from friends. If you've got friend who may be interested in our unique brand of wacky Japanese pop culture, we hope you'll give them our URL or tell them about us. Thanks in advance!

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, with a hundred years of history to their name. For many years they've been the trusted partner and licensee of all Studio Ghibli toys including Totoro, Spirited Away and more. The plush toys they create are the best we've ever seen, soft to touch and furry to hold, far inferior to the anime plush toys you may have seen for sale in the U.S. (which are, alas, usually Taiwanese pirate products). We hope you'll browse our extensive selection of Studio Ghibli products!