Back when I was single, I did a fair bit of traveling around Japan, hitchhiking or riding trains on "Youth 18" tickets, which allow you to go anywhere in Japan for around $25 a day, as long as you don't mind taking the slow local trains. (Poor gaijin like me who live in Japan don't get to buy the spiffy Japan Rail tickets that tourists from overseas have access to.) I've been from Hokkaido to Hiroshima and have really enjoyed getting out and seeing the country. During my travels, I've stayed at various places, including conventional "business" hotels, youth hostels, minshuku (a kind of Japanese bed & breakfast), and "saunas" (a public bath with a sauna; there's a central room where you can sleep on the floor for free). But perhaps the most unique overnight experiences I had were staying at capsule hotels, the miniature honeycomb-like hotel rooms found in larger Japanese cities. Inside your capsule you have everything you need: bed, blanket, pillow, a little TV, radio with alarm, and a curtain for privacy. Capsule hotels usually have large communal baths and saunas. They're cheap, too: you can stay in the heart of Tokyo's Shibuya district for around $40. Capsule hotels are usually for men only, although I went to one once that had a floor reserved for women.
One thing you have to get used to when studying Japanese is that a word from one language won't necessarily "match up" with a word from the other. English and Japanese are quite different structurally, and there are often subtle nuances you have to master when learning new vocabulary. In English, the idea of a brother is quite simple, but in Japanese, there are separate concepts for older brother (oniisan) and younger (otouto), which is hard to get used to at first. Cold water (mizu) and hot water (o-yu) are separate linguistic ideas, and if you use the wrong word accidentally, people will smile at how cute your Japanese is. In English, "funny" can mean either strange or amusing; the Japanese use "okashii" for strange and "omoshiroi" for amusing, but beware: the latter term also covers the English word "interesting." If you've ever known a Japanese person who seemed to over-use the word "delicious," it's because in Japanese, the word for good ("ii" pronounced like the English letter E) is a separate concept from the word for good-tasting food (which is "oishii"). Learning a foreign language is good because it makes you aware of your own language, too.
The 2005 calendars we posted on Wednesday are really proving popular with J-List customers, and we've already received preorders for over 200 calendars. To help you choose which of the great large-format Japanese calendars you'd like this year, we've gone through and updated the calendar pictures with better images. By the way, there was a temporary error in the shopping cart which caused the 15% discount for 4 or more calendars to fail to display. Never fear, it's been fixed now.
At J-List, we carry thousands of fun and rare items from Japan, including over 150 varieties of Japanese snacks -- rice crackers, Japanese sweets, "candy toys," you name it. During the hot summer months, we're forced to remove all chocolate products and Pocky because of the problem of melting. We're happy to announce, however, that fall Pocky season is here once again, and we've got great new flavors of Pocky in stock, ready for you to order! Enjoy the tasty Mild Chocolate Moose Pocky, extra thick and creamy, or the amazing new Pocky Decorer, "just like a decoration cake on a stick!"
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of fabulous Japanese anime characters and posters, enjoy the new Megami Magazine Deluxe, a special once-a-year issue of the #1 selling anime magazine at J-List -- filled with fabulous anime character illustrations and pin-ups
- Next, we have the new issue of Gothic & Lolita Bible, the amazing handbook of all that's goth -- enjoy tons of glossy photos of costumes, a deck of gothic playing cards, and a cool pattern you can use to make your own outfits
- In addition to the newest issue, look for a massive restocking of all past issues of this remarkable fashion photobook series, simply amazing
- We have some excellent toy items today, including the new 50th anniversary Godzilla toy series featuring famous scenes from the past half-decade of the big G rendered in soft vinyl and PVC (full sets available)
- Also, a great miniature figure set of Panda Z character toys, featuring really cute plastic figures that you can display or use as finger puppets
- For fans of Cowboy Bebop, we have two really excellent PVC statues of the very sexy Faye Valentine and Julia
- Like sushi? We've got a cool coffee cup for you that teaches you the names of all types of Japanese sushi
- In addition to our new stock of delicious Pocky, we have other snack treats for you, including sweet potato chips (trust us, they're good), yummy rice crackers, and more
- Restocked snack and food items include tasty miso soup, Felix the Cat gum, Okinawa Black Caramel from Morinaga, and various flavors of Japanese gum
- Have fun cleaning hair and dirt from your bathwater with a Hello Kitty bath cleaner, which makes keeping your bath clean a snap
- All Japan loves Pingu, the cute penguin character -- we have deluxe heart keychains featuring Pingu and Pinga, so cute
- Also very cool, traditional kimono bags that are carried when you wear a kimono on special events -- but you can use your kimono bag to carry anything, anytime
- Next we have a handy bottle for storing and pouring olive oil, salad dressing, soy sauce, you name it
- We've restocked several popular Ghibli items including the Totoro stamp sets, the plush Ghibli keychain sets, the Spirited Away No-Face keychains, the popular Bou Nezumi plush toys and many more items
- For Hello Kitty fans, we've got a great digital timer for your kitchen, great for Sanrio lovers everywhere
- Fans of Cutie Honey, we have fresh stock of the dynamite detailed figures of Cutie and Kisaragi
- Finally, enjoy more wacky Japanese gum erasers that are really fun to use, kanji practice notebooks for students, and more!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- For fans of Japan's gorgeous photography style we've come to call "Japanese girls in Underoos," enjoy the new issue of Urecco Gal, filled with fantastic Tokyo hello kitties
- Also new: you can order a revolving monthly subscription to Urecco Gal and get it sent to you each month automatically, until you tell us to stop
- Next enjoy the new issue of Yappari Hitozuma Dechita, or You Know I Really Love Married Women, featuring dozens of ultra-experienced twentysomethings and mature gals
- Photobook collectors, we've got some great items for you, starting with the delightful first photobook of Honoka, who shows you her natural body
- Then we've got a charming photobook starring stylish Japanese actress Tae Kimura, a gorgeous woman captured in a hardcover photobook for you
- Look for restocked photobooks including Yuko Ogura's delightful hardcover photobooks, Yoko Matsugane's very steamy DOME and more
- H manga fans, enjoy some great new works for you, including a book about "sexy and sweetish women" by Tenma Comics, a secret "Lingerie Closet" by JCC, and vol. 1 of the excellent Warm Heart
- We've restocked several popular works too, including hermaphrodite-themed comics like the popular Futanari Collection
- For fans of doujinshi, guess what? We've got another half-dozen or so books for you, with fantastic artwork and hilarious parodying of your favorite anime characters
- For our DVD customers, we've got some dynamite items for you, starting with the luscious first DVD release of Mihiro, the drop-dead gorgeous photobook model who is the second coming of Mai Hagiwara as far as we're concerned -- yummy (region free)
- Next, a cool new "Concentratation" series DVD at a great price -- the lovely performances of Ami Hyugi (region free)
- From SOD, enjoy stuck-up rich girls (ojosama) who show you their solo performances (region free)
- Then from SOD's Natural High label, an amazing work featuring hot she-males, aka "new half," who show you what they're made of (region free)
- Next, Moodyz brings you the excellent kiss and much more of gorgeous females, who perform their pure love for you (region 2)
- Finally, look for many restocked DVD titles, including the lovely Russian, Romanian and Northern European girls discs, Million's Dream Super Stars 4 Hours Special, Big Battle 8 Hours Special, and more!
J-List advertises on several websites and in magazines, too. If you've recently found J-List because of an advertisement that we saw, we'd like to hear from you so that we can better support these companies. If it's not too much trouble, please consider shooting us an email or leaving a note in your next order telling us if you saw an ad of ours somewhere. Thanks!
Remember that J-List carries the excellent Japan Hot Wheels cars, made exclusively for the Japanese market. The popular toys include a perfect replica of the Mach 5 from Speed Racer, the Airwolf helicopter, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, the Delorean from Back to the Future, and more. These are remarkable toys, with great die-cast metal detailing, a super item for any collector. Note that the current stock we have is probably all we'll be able to get, as all current toys are out of production.