Like California, Japan is a very volcanic place, and homes have to be specially constructed to withstand earthquakes, which are common here. Gunma Prefecture is situated right in the center of Japan's main island of Honshu, and the populated areas are ringed by several large volcanoes: Mt. Akagi, Mt. Haruna, and Mt. Asama. (For fans of the mountain racing anime Initial D, which is set in Gunma, Mt. Akina is a fictional amalgamation of Mt. Akagi and Mt. Haruna.) Three weeks ago, we took our daughter to visit the top of Mt. Asama, which had erupted several times over the past century: the beautiful sea of black volcanic rock at the top of the mountain is amazing to see, and there's a great shinto shrine at the top, too. While we were up there, we noticed many large concrete shelters, to protect people if the volcano should start acting up again suddenly. Two days ago, it did just that: we felt a strange jolt, and a few minutes later we turned on the TV to see images of the mountain erupting in a flow of eerie orange lava. Fortunately it seems to be a small eruption, and there have been no evacuations so far. The eruption happened to come exactly 81 years to the day after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake which destroyed virtually all of Tokyo and Yokohama -- spooky.
Japanese, like all languages in the world, comes in many different dialects. The fact that Japanese people tend to move less, often living their whole lives in one area, helps make dialects more pronounced than in the U.S., where the population tends to be more mobile. When older Japanese from rural Japan are interviewed on TV, it's not uncommon for the TV station to put subtitles on so everyone else will understand what is being said. Standard Japanese is defined by the Ministry of Education as the Japanese of Tokyo, and that's what is taught in textbooks around the country, but other dialects of Japanese have more "flavor" to them. The most well-known is Osaka-ben, the dialect of the Osaka region, and just like any good stand-up comic in America has to speak with a thick Jewish New York accent, comedians here usual tell their jokes with an Osakan accent. In Tokyo, people in shops will thank you by saying "arigato"; in Osaka, they'll say "ooki ni" (oh-KI ni).
All in all, Japan is a fairly easy country for an expat to live in: Japanese are friendly and interested in English, and there's always something fun to see or do. Theatres show Western movies in English with Japanese subtitles, not dubbed over as in most foreign countries, and you can get CNN, Fox and the Discovery Channel on satellite or cable. But there are some challenges to living here, as well. Summers are hot and winters are cold, yet Japanese homes lack central heating or air conditioning (you heat or cool one room at a time). Outside of cities like Tokyo, it's not uncommon for signs to be written only in Japanese, so if you don't read the language it can be a challenge to get around. It's hard to find books in any language other than Japanese, too. Also, you're constantly bombarded with "wasei eigo" (lit. "made in Japan English"), and words like washlet (a toilet seat that washes your butt), rinse-in shampoo (conditioning shampoo), cooler (air conditioning) and trainer (a sweatshirt) start to sound natural to you. There are also some things you have to do without when you come to Japan to live, like Mexican food, delicious Vlassic dill pickles, root beer, and around Christmas, eggnog.
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of the amazing artwork of Tsutomu Nihei and his art book entitled "Blame And So On..." we have a treat: rare figures from the Blame manga, deliciously gothic and cool
- Fans of Japan's darling swimsuit idols, we've got a new photobook featuring Yuko Ogura, the most popular sexy idol in Japan today
- I'm a fan of the Micronauts toys from way back -- we have a cool Microman Chronicle catalog of Microman/Micronauts toys sold since the very beginning
- Next, we have a full set of the incredibly cute Olivia the Piglet figures, an amazing series of toy that you'll love to display in your office or room
- Also, we've got a super anime figure of Anita from the Read or Die anime series -- comes with interchangeable faces, arms and a base
- Sanrio fans, we have a super cute Kitty figure that plays a little cello when you play music near her -- so cute!
- Fans of gashapon, Japan's highly popular capsule toys, we've got a great new series of Panda Z toys, including all characters from the cute parody universe (it's based on Go Nagai's Mazinger Z but with panda bears)
- Also, gashapon of super cute Sailor Moon figures, released to coincide with the popular live action Sailor Moon series
- Fans of Japanese snacks, enjoy tasty ume (Japanese plum) candy, traditional monaka sweets with ume inside, and delicious potato O's
- Next, a cute candy dispenser featuring the cute pig Bright Lighton
- Enjoy more traditional Japanese "tenugui" hand towels, in stock
- Also, enjoy making Japanese onigiri, shaped rice balls, with the new pucchi rice ball makers we have for you
- Learn Japanese while you eat with our chopsticks with Japanese food on them -- wacky and fun
- Also, incredibly cute notebooks featuring flying space rabbits
- Totoro and Ghibli fans, look for various restocked items, including Totoro and Spirited Away music boxes, more Totoro bento boxes and other cool items
- Also, we've restocked one of my favorite items: the Totoro Cuckoo Clock, a massive fully functional cuckoo clock for anime fans
- Finally, find a cute "rubber duckie" for your bath, fresh stock of Japanese study supplies including kana/kanji practice notebooks, cool cases for your Wordtank electronic dictionary, and other cool items from Japan!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- For fans of Japan's unique 18+ magazines, we have the new issues of Penthouse Japan and Penthouse Special, renamed Pent-Japan and Pent-Japan Special
- Also, we have the new issue of Yes!!, a magazine featuring gorgeous Tokyo girls in lovely love hotels
- Japan's gorgeous glossy photobooks are something everyone should experience -- we have the new I Love You featuring Yuu Kitajima (Yuu/You, ha ha, get it?)
- H manga fans, we've got some dynamite works for you today including a nice "hitozuma" (married women) manga, an incredibly beautiful offering by Cosmix, and a new comic from Shou Katase
- Also, URARAKA, a beautiful H parody manga , great for fans of Bluer Than Indigo, Please Teacher, Final Fantasy X, and more
- Enjoy some great new doujinshi, including brand new books just published for the recent Comic Market -- among other titles, we have a Ghost in the Shell H parody doujinshi too
- For fans of Japan's amazing DVDs for adults, we have some excellent new products, starting with 150 minutes of naughtiness with Hitomi Hayasaka (region free)
- Next, a massive 4-hour collection of performances wearing various costumes -- nurse uniforms, cheerleader uniforms, they're all here (region free)
- Soft on Demand explores the popular Japanese genre of "tekoki" (female to male hand job) in a the new Tekoki Clinic Special Edition (region free)
- Also from SOD, enjoy more "Kissing Battle Royal" featuring Assistant Director Haruna (even though she's a full director now) teaching her kissing technique to all the top stars of the JAV world (region free)
- From Waap Entertainment, enjoy a very naughty amusement park with the lovely Rin. (yet another Japanese girl with a period as part of her official name) (region 2)
- Tomo has restocked several DVD products for you, including the popular Gold Bird and Euro Angels (which have really been popular with the Olympics on and everything), all-female performances with OLs and nurses, 10 hours of cosplay from TMA, and more!
J-List carries so many cool things from Japan, it's hard to know where to start looking. You can always browse all the products we sell, sorted in most-recently-updated order, by clicking the "view all products" link in the upper left hand corner of the site. You can also check products updated in the past 3 days with the three-day link.