Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Greetings from J-List September 1, 2004

Hello from Japan, home of feminine products with names like Charmy Body Fit and Supporty.

Japan's birthrate is among the lowest in the world, with about 1.23 children born per couple. Since Japan lacks constant immigration from the outside like America and Europe, the low birthrate is placing some unique strains on society here. Extremely rural parts of the country are becoming practically empty of people, as young Japanese move to cities to work and older Japanese die off. We can see Japan's "famine" of children right here in Gunma Prefecture, where we live: Tomo lives in a small town in the mountains called Omama, population 22,000, where there are almost no children at all. Near his house, there's an elementary school with 35 students -- not 35 students per class or per grade, but 35 students in all six grades. To counter the dire problem of having less and less people every year, provincial Japanese governments are trying hard to make it easy for families to have more kids, giving free health care to every person under the age of 5 and providing subsidies for services like preschool. Some prefectures even offer bonuses for families willing to do an "I-Turn" (a Japanese word for moving from a city to the country, taking the letter I from the Japanese word "inaka" meaning "rural area"). The Nagano Prefectural Government will give anyone who moves to the prefecture and builds a house $10,000, no questions asked. Even in our city, there's a monthly bonus of $300 paid to any family that has three children, with more money available if you have more kids.

Each language is unique, with its own set of interesting features. Romance languages, for example, have nouns that come in male and female genders, which is very different from English, and potentially confusing for English learners of those languages. In Japanese, there are other interesting features. For example, the subject and object are often left off of sentences if the speakers know what is meant. Thus a girl might say to her friend "Iku?" which literally means "Go?" Who is going, and where are they going, and when are they going, are all implied. Also, there's a highly developed system of "keigo" or polite Japanese used in formal and business settings. Often, you choose extra-polite verbs and nouns (called sonkeigo or "honorific language") when talking with, say, a company you do business with, to raise them up to a higher level than you. At the same time, you choose other words when referring either to yourself or your own company to push yourself a lower level (called kenjogo or "humble language"). Many basic verbs such as to eat, to go and so on come in three versions, a normal version, an honorific version and a humble version.

Japanese have many tongue twisters in their language, which are always fun for gaijin to learn, since no one expects us to know things like that. One of the most famous is "Niwa ni wa, niwa niwatori ga iru." This translates to: "Niwa ni wa (in the yard), niwa (two + counter for birds) niwatori (chicken) ga iru (there are)," or, "there are two chickens in the yard." Another fun one is "Tonari no kyaku wa yoku kaki kuu kyaku da." This breaks down as "Tonari no kyaku wa (as for the customer next to me) yoku (a lot of) kaki (oysters) kuu (eat) kyaku da (is a customer who...)", or "The customer sitting next to me is one who eats a lot of oysters." Don't know how to pronounce the Japanese words? Don't worry, here are the two phrases in MP3 format, courtesy of J-List's lovely staff: http://www.jlist.com/tonguetwister.mp3

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

  • First, for fans of the Japanese fashion and cosplay movement known as Gothic Lolita, we've got a great new Handmade Goth Loli photobook featuring gorgeous outfits complete with patterns you can use to make your own outfits
  • For fans of Japan's unique small toys (called candy toys because you usually get candy in the box too), we've got some great "evolution" figures featuring the creatures that have lived on the Earth before us (full sets in stock)
  • Next, we have a great samurai sword keychain that's useful as a letter opener or just as something cool to display
  • For Sanrio fans, we've got a dynamite Hello Kitty pencil case that's just beautiful -- a unique item from Japan
  • Japanese kids love hamsters -- we've got some cute Hamtaro dress-up dolls that are really fun to play with
  • Do you ever get carsick? We have some handy motion sickness bags in stock for you
  • Fans of Gashapon (capsule toys), we've got full sets of a unique Pokemon set -- and full sets are in stock
  • For collectors of plush toy, enjoy a cute large Pingu plush, a cute animal brought to you by Banpresto
  • For fans of our Japanese snack items, enjoy tasty beef bowl flavored potato chips (yes, you read right); traditional Japanese candy made from sweet beans; and delicious ume (plum) tea powder, wow
  • Also, some delicious tropical fruit candies for Hello Kitty fans, three packs with a different flavor each
  • Enjoy some great restocked snacks too, including Funya-Q (a "gummi happy face" that is tasty), ramune and cola gummi, Honey Pretz and more
  • Bento fans, we've restocked several popular items, including the Kyoto and I.Kotoba Deluxe Bento Sets, more chopsticks, and lots of other items
  • Never be without a pen to write with -- we've got a superb miniature pen that you can use as a keychain so it's always handy
  • Organize everything in your life with a small "section case" great for jewelry, computer parts, tools and more
  • Finally, for fans of the groovy Sailor Moon live action series, we've got the 6th DVD, which was just released in Japan (region 2).

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

  • For fans of incredible photography from Japan, enjoy the dynamite Nama Shoku ("Fresh Food") photomagazine featuring Sayaka Uchida as you've never seen her before -- yummy
  • Then check out the new issue of Aishite Ageru ("I'll Love You") DVD, featuring a color magazine and 2 hour sampler DVD too
  • For doujinshi fans, we've got another excellent selection of all-new books for you, recently published and really great to read and collect
  • Enjoy the super sexy Race Queen Shoko Hamada, a popular swimsuit idol and F-1 promotion girl from Japan
  • For H manga fans, enjoy some great new comics from Japan's top publishers, including the Cold Hip of a Rich Girl by Maitaimu, a superbly detailed work by Mujin Comics, and a summer "Love Festival"
  • Also, we have a great work for yaoi fans, the excellent Platinum vol. 3 featuring the works of nine popular artists
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some amazing new items for you, starting with the dynamite new Sora Aoi release by Samantha (region free)
  • Next, experience more thrill of the Olympics with Soft on Demand's amazing new Zenra Swimming 2, featuring three gorgeous professional athletes including a former Olympic contestant -- wow! (region free)
  • Then Female Director Haruna goes to Hakata, Kyushu in southern Japan to explore the world of "Deep Kissing" with beautiful Japanese girls (region free)
  • Enjoy a new release from U&K featuring more lovely Tokyo girls who experience all-girl love for the first time, on camera (region free)
  • Then from Waap Entertainment, the amazing world of "Panst" (sexy stockings), a thrilling look at gorgeous women from low angles (region 2)
  • We've added free shipping to several more DVD titles, including 4 Hours of Rina Takase and Mio Asakura, Dream Shower starring the lovely Rin, several Masterpiece Concentration titles and more
  • Finally, look for fresh stock of many popular DVDs, including Sora Aoi's luscious Devil's Training, the Evangelion cosplay DVD, Miki Komori's amazingly flexible Straddle, and more!

At J-List, we love bringing our brand of wacky Japanese pop culture to the world. J-List customers report that the #1 way they heard about J-List was through word-of-mouth. If you know of anyone who's interested in Japan in some way, we hope that you'll tell them about us -- we're always happy to receive referrals! Thanks in advance for telling your friends about J-List.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Greetings from J-List August 30, 2004

Hello from Japan, where you order french fries in restaurants by asking for "potato."

Japan's electronics industry is a very competitive place, and companies are always trying to come up with new products to capture market share away from their competitors. Every few months, it seems some company comes up with a new twist on an existing product -- like a refrigerator that emits "minus ions" (negatively charged ions) to make your room feel fresh and clean, rice cookers with revolutionary cooking features, or combination washer/dryers that wash, then dry, your clothes -- a great item to have during Japan's rainy season, when it's too humid to hang clothes up to dry. Companies are always trying to create a new category of product that they can lead in -- Sharp has done this with their new "water oven," which cooks food with steam, removing fat and oils to make food healthier. The area where competition is fiercest is probably the digital camera arena, where all the major electronics companies are constantly releasing new models to keep from getting left behind. The battle for market share is so fierce that sales of a new camera drop off after just 1-2 months, since consumers know a newer model is right around the corner.

Some things in Japan just defy explanation. The green lights on traffic signals are "blue" in Japanese ("ao" not "midori") -- although they're the same color as every other country, the Japanese look at a green light and say it's blue. When you stop at a convenience store, it's common to leave your keys in the car with the engine running -- even if you're driving a tricked-out Nissan Fairlady Z. Confusion can arise from names, too. For some reason, most of the people who live near our house in Japan have the same last name as us -- Yanai -- despite the fact that they're not related to us in any way. Once, in the "kairanban" (a kind of circular newsletter that goes to everyone in our immediate neighborhood; when one family reads it, the put a check by their name and take it to the next house on the list), I noticed that 11 out of 19 families around us were named Yanai, all of them apparently unrelated to each other. We happen to live next door to the mayor of our city, whose last name is also Yanai. About a kilometer away, there's a patch of houses with families whose last names are all Hosoi, but they, too, are not related to each other. Japan can be a mysterious place...

There are a lot of words that the Japanese invent that are fun to learn, and one word in particular most fans of anime learn pretty quickly is "H" (the letter H), which when said with a Japanese accent sounds like "ecchi" (also written "etchi"). Probably created by taking the first letter of a word that means "perverted," the word "H" is basically used as an all-purpose euphemism to describe anything to do with sex. If a person thinks about sex too much, he is "H" (ecchi), and a common euphemism for the sexual act is "ecchi suru" (literally "to do H"). Whatever its origin, the unique letter "H" is a part of Japanese culture and language, be it in anime, manga, television dramas and so on. We've got a wacky new Japanese T-shirt for you today, too: a "Rated H" shirt that is perfect for anyone who is just a little too "H."

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

  • First, we've got delicious new snacks from Japan for you, including traditional "Hakka" peppermint candy, great spicy rice crackers, and traditional Japanese coffee candy
  • Want something wacky from Japan? We've got several maps for you, including a map of Japan and a nice map of Kyoto
  • For your bathroom, some gorgeous kanji messages that will add a touch of Japan
  • We have some cool traditional "Kinchaku" bags, which are traditionally carried when women wear kimonos (but you can put anything you like in them)
  • Then enjoy some delicious "furi-furi" shakes, strawberry and melon Hello Kitty drinks that are fun to make
  • Sanrio fans, we've got a wacky item for you: Bad Batz Maru chopsticks, so cute!
  • Also, a set of three stacking Hello Kitty cups for little ones -- these are really great
  • Next, we've got some great gashapon (capsule toys) based on Steam Boy, the excellent animated film by Katsuhiro Otomo
  • We've added stock of the popular Character Design Bible, an art book filled with fantastic Japanese character illustrations and artwork
  • Ah My Goddess fans, we have a gorgeous vinyl figure of Belldandy in swimsuit bikini, a fabulous pre-painted figure, ready for you to display in your room
  • Next, for Kubrick fans, we've got the new Be@rbrick series, an incredibly beautiful series of Kubrick bears that must be seen to be believed (full sets are in stock)
  • The Japanese are fans of many things -- including erasers. We've got a wacky new chocolate eraser in stock, as well as a handy non-PVC eraser that's great for study
  • DVD customers, we've restocked several popular items, including OH! Mikey vol. 1, the excellent Lupin III movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and more
  • Want to make Japanese onigiri (rice balls)? We've got some onigiri molds for you that make it easy
  • Finally, look for freshly restocked snack and gum products, including Blueberry Gum, Crispy Pizza Pretz (mmm), Okinawan Black Candy Caramels, Sushi Gummi and more!

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

  • For fans of beautiful women from around the world, we have the new Bachelor in stock -- features superb new photos of Yulia Nova, too
  • Then, we've got a new issue of the Very Best of Sabra Girls, featuring Japan's most gorgeous swimsuit idols (including Yuko Ogura!) -- comes with a DVD as well!
  • Beautiful photography meets art in the new issue of Hip & Lip, the oddly-named magazine that combines the best of two worlds
  • Photobook fans, enjoy the lovely hardcover offering of Aoi Sora, the beautiful angel of Japan's professional AV world
  • Then enjoy Rio Natsume's delicious hardcover photobook, which comes with a glossy photograph of the sexy model
  • Also, look for various restocked photobooks, including Pocket Kaoru and Kaoru Private Collection by Aida Garo
  • H manga fans, enjoy several great new items, including an exploration of morality by AV Comics, a dynamite "Excellent" series manga featuring sexy sisters, and a truly excellent compilation manga featuring the works of bold new artists
  • Yaoi fans, we've got a new work for you too, a beautiful story from Lily Hoshino
  • We've got more great doujinshi for everyone, including some excellent books -- a great Zeta Gundam parody, a new "new half" doujin by the famous Amano-Jack and more
  • For our DVD customers, we've got some great items for you, starting with a Super Bible of Bunko Kanazawa, featuring some of her great new performances (region free)
  • Next, the lovely new Noa shows you her first performance in her debut release from SOD -- an amazing, fresh idol! (region free)
  • Then, enjoy a massive treat, a 4-in-1 capturing the best moments of the Highest Class Soap Girl series from SOD (region free)
  • Next, see girls who perform together for the for the first time ever on camera -- a fascinating concept from U&K (region free)
  • From Moodyz, enjoy a 2-disc set, featuring the collaboration between Alice Hoshi and Ayami Sakurai, two dynamite JAV starlets with achingly beautiful bodies (region 2)
  • Finally, look for some great restocked DVDs, including Tokyo Girls Kiss, Anna Ohura's dynamite "Super Angle" title, and more!

Remember that J-List carries dozens of interesting PC dating-sim games for Windows computers, a unique category of software from Japan. Also known as H games, these story-based love-sims allow to you experience a unique form of Japanese entertainment in its original form, but with the Japanese text translated faithfully into English. Because there are so many amazing games to choose from, there's sure to be something for you. Feel free to email us for recommendations, too!