"You've been in Japan too long when you appear for your first skiing lesson with brand new Rossignol high performance racing skis and an aerodynamic racing suit with color matched goggles...and then snowplow down." One thing you learn about the Japanese pretty quickly when living here -- they can be very style-oriented at times, especially when it comes to sports like skiing. It's a given that anyone heading for ski slopes here will have already spent thousands of dollars on looking good, whether they can ski or not. Another area where Japanese can be very style-conscious is camping, and most Japanese wouldn't think of venturing out to the campgrounds without a carful of the latest snazzy Coleman camping equipment. This is very different from me -- my idea of camping is to throw some folding chairs and sleeping bags in the car and decide where to go along the way. I've had to basically give up taking my kids camping here in Japan, though, because I can't compete with the stylish campers around us.
1989 was a sad year for Japan. In January, Emperor Hirohito died, closing the long Showa Era (1925-1989) and introducing the current Heisei Era. Then in February came the death of Osamu Tezuka, creator of classics like Kimba the White Lion and Astro Boy and father of manga in its current form. Finally came the passing of Misora Hibari, probably the most celebrated enka singer ever, who had an incredible 40-year career singing in postwar Japan and an incredible string of hits. Fans still remember her last concert at Tokyo Dome in 1989, where she performed despite being in pain from her illness that would take her life soon after. Her song "Kawa no nagare no yo ni" (Flowing Like a River) was chosen by Japanese fans as the #1 song of the 20th century. Here's a link to the song in MP3 format: http://www.jlist.com/hibari
Japan is overjoyed at one of their brightest stars taking home a gold medal for judo. Ryoko Tani, formerly Ryoko Tamura before her gala wedding to baseball star Yoshitomo Tani last year, is one of the most famous athletes in the country, and has been competing in judo ever since she was a child. She's nicknamed Yawara-chan, after the main character of a popular judo manga and anime from the 80s.
Good news for fans of doujinshi, Japan's famous underground comic books created by amateur artists: this past weekend marked Comic Market 66, and the J-List staff was hard at work, getting cool doujinshi for J-List customers. A massive event in which about 50,000 fans line up to buy their favorite amateur books, Comic Market (or "Comiket" as its universally abbreviated) is held twice a year, in the summer (sweaty, dripping hell) and in the winter (blessedly cold and refreshing). Inside Big Sight, there are four large halls jam-packed with doujinshi circles selling their various creations, loosely organized into different sections (books for men, yaoi, and so on). Look for great new items on the J-List website, today and in the coming weeks.
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you, described below. To view all products updated in the past 3 days, click: http://www.jbox.com/UPDATES/3/
o First, we've got a wacky new T-shirt for you all -- a twisted parody of Japan's famous "lucky cat"
o For fans of the amazing Re-Ment miniature food toys and supermarket replicas, we have a very special item: the Pucchi Refrigerator, a complete toy refrigerator that will hold all the great supermarket toys!
o Next, for fans of the famous Sailor Moon, we've got a treat: the new live-action Sailor Moon DVDs vol. 1 & 2 are in stock (region 2)
o We love the unique toys Medicom Toy creates, and their newest line of BabeKub block toys is really cool -- we've gotten in various Disney BabeKubs in stock for you today
o Totoro fans, we have a great Totoro pencil case that's really beautifully made
o Protect the things you own with two handy soft cases from Japan, great for storing notebook computers, cameras, just about anything
o Next, we've got some really cool traditional Japanese tray and dish sets, which should be very popular
o For fans of Japanese snacks, enjoy many new items, including Petit Pizza (hot chilli flavor), creamy almond Toppo sticks, fried octopus balls (trust us, there're not what you're thinking) and ramen snacks you can eat right out of the bag
o Also, restocked Japanese snacks, including Poiful, the delicious gummi jellybean treat from Japan, plus Pocari Sweat powder, more delicious Japanese "sauce," and gum that brushes your teeth
o Steam Boy is coming! The gorgeous new animated film by Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of Akira, and we've got some dynamite capsule bottle-cap figures in stock for fans (full sets are available)
o Draw straight lines with a cute Hello Kitty rules, that features jagged lines so that you can, er, draw jagged lines if you need to
o We have an elegant porcelain phone strap, also useful as a keychain or camera strap, a cool item from Japan
o We've restocked the popular Tomica die-cast cats from Japan, including the popular Prius, the most popular model
o Next, a new folding fan, made of bamboo and very beautiful, and a great item for summer
o Panda Z fans, we've restocked the really cool Panda Z large figure, complete with young Pantaron at the controls of his giant panda robot
o Finally, we've added fresh stock of many cool soft vinyl Nausica, Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service toys, which are perfectly molded and hand painted by Cominica -- these are great toys that we recommend to all Miyazaki fans!
Remember that J-List makes dozens of magazines available through our "reserve subscription" system. Basically, we'll pre-reserve the current issue of a your favorite magazines for you and have them in the mail to you by the time it's in bookstores here in Japan -- a few days earlier, in fact, since we get many magazines earlier than most bookstores. We've got a great selection of different anime, toy, cosplay, JPOP/JROCK, and street fashion magazines available for you to choose from.