Friday, September 17, 2004

Greetings from J-List September 17, 2004

Hello again from Japan, home of cars with names like the Largo Wagonist and Suzuki Perky.

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Greetings from J-List September 15, 2004

One of the biggest surprises any foreigner living in Japan receives is when he sees his first Japanese right wingers, blasting annoying music from their speaker cars. Japanese right-wing groups are blustery nationalists who drive around cities playing patriotic music from Japan's wartime past, including the war songs soldiers used to sing on ships. They fly Japan's wartime "rising sun" flag and make speeches about how great the Emperor is, while passers-by ignore them completely. One of the first anime series I fell in love with as a child was Space Cruiser Yamato, a show which was tinged with more than a few right-wing themes (Earth being bombed by the white Gamilon Desslock was an allegory for what Japan went through during the last years of the war). Sure enough, the theme song from Yamato/Star Blazers is a favorite among Japan's fascist types, and it's common to hear it blasting from their annoying loudspeaker cars. Japan's organized right-wing groups are closely associated with the infamous Japanese mafia, the Yakuza.

Somewhat similar to Japan's right-wingers are the boso-zoku, the motorcycle gangs that drive loudly through the streets of Japanese cities, making as much noise as they can. An odd segment of young counter-culture, boso-zoku (lit. "tribe of those who run wildly") are gangs that dress in clothes with right-wing slogans on them and ride on motorcycles modified to be extra loud. Boso-zoku types are known as "yankii," from the English word "yankee," perhaps because they dye their hair blonde (or perhaps not). The motorcycle gangs from the Katsuhiro Otomo film Akira are based on the boso-zoku, but the real bike gangs aren't nearly as interesting: they're mostly bored delinquents who dropped out of high school because they fell in with the wrong crowd. You could call them "yakuza scouts" because Japan's mafia usually uses boso-zoku members to run errands for them. While it's probably dangerous to get on the wrong side of these loud kids, they're usually nothing more than an annoyance, especially when you're driving somewhere and get caught in a traffic jam caused by a group of them. To experience the annoyance of the boso-zoku, see this German page: http://www.bosozoku.de/ (fair warning: it's loud)

Announcing the second half of Japanese calendar season! Every year at J-List we carry the amazing large-format Japanese calendars which are available in Japan for a limited time from October to November or so. If you've never seen these Japanese calendars, they're really amazing -- huge poster-sized sheets of thick stock paper, with beautiful printing and wonderful photography and art that will really make your year special. Because we genuinely love Japan and want to bring a little piece of it to everyone, we go the extra mile for you, carrying hundreds of anime, JPOP/JROCK, swimsuit idol, race queen and other calendars, including off-the-wall items which might not be that popular (but which are still very cool). Rolled calendars require a mailing tube, which is $2 and one tube can hold two calendars. As in previous years, if you buy 4 or more calendars you'll get 15% off, and get your mailing tubes for free!

As usual, it's fun to look at the ranking of calendars and see whose star has risen or fallen over the past year. Once again, Ayumi Hamasaki has claimed the coveted CL1 spot, reflecting her ongoing status as one of the top JPOP stars and fashion entities in Japan. She's followed by Aya Ueto, who had a banner year in dramas and film, and the elegant Misaki Ito, the Japanese Audrey Hepburn, who built a successful acting career after making a splash in commercials for plum wine. Many of Japan's top name swimsuit idols are back this year, like Yuko Ogura, Yinling of Joytoy and Eriko Satoh, as are popular Japanese "talents" like Yuka and the half-British, half-Japanese Becky. Since the opening of "cultural imports" between South Korea and Japan this year, Korean dramas and films have been very popular here -- look for some calendars featuring Korean stars like the gorgeous Yoon Sona (her Korean-Japanese accent is so cute). As always, there are dozens of great anime calendars available for preordering, with virtually every anime series represented. Hayao Miyazaki fans will be especially happy to see a fabulous 3D Totoro calendar this year, as well as several other great items for his fans.

As always, we recommend that everyone get their preorders in quickly, so we can order your calendars and get them back for you as speedily as we can. Calendars should start to come in in the month of October, and we ship your calendars out to you right away. The window for ordering these great calendars is unfortunately very short, and we'll have to close preorders around the middle of October. To avoid the agony of not getting that rare Japanese calendar you want, be sure and preorder early.

In addition to huge volley of 2005 calendars added to the site, we're happy to announce stock of the gorgeous Shirow Masamune movie Innocence, which tells the continuing story of the characters from Ghost in the Shell. A fabulous animated film directed by Mamoru Oishi, it was a huge hit in Japan and is being distributed around the world. Although this film opens in theatres in the U.S. this weekend, we've got it on DVD right now -- order your copy today! (We even have the deluxe Staff Box in stock.)

In addition to the above items, look for a huge volley of updated products, including many popular manga volumes, photobooks (Aoi Sora and more), great DVDs in the "Concentration" series, anime toys, fresh stock of "jitte" (the weapon of ninjas), as well as other wacky things from Japan!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Greetings from J-List September 13, 2004

Florida has really been hit with some powerful storms this season, and we hope that all our customers in the area made it through safely. Unfortunately, Japan was also pummeled by typhoons this year, resulting in many deaths in Okinawa and the two southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. Typhoon season in Japan lasts from late August through most of September, a kind of second rainy season after the normal one in June-July. This year, typhoons caused extensive damage to a landmark well known to foreigners who have visited Japan: Miya-jima, the beautiful Shinto shrine near Hiroshima, famous for the red torii arch that appears to float on the sea when the tide comes in. While much of the shrine itself was damaged by the high winds and water, the floating arch was miraculously undamaged.

Although sumo wrestling is the official sport of Japan, enjoying special status and financial support by the government, the hearts of Japanese sports fans belongs to baseball. Baseball was introduced here back in the Meiji era, when Japan started its long path towards modernization. Although halted during World War II as an "enemy sport," today baseball has more fans than ever. Currently, though, Japan's baseball world is going through some growing pains. The #1 team is the Yomiuri Giants (owned by the Yomiuri newspaper company), and the team is so popular that they alter the dynamics of the entire sport: the other eleven teams can only hope for good ticket sales when their team is playing the Giants, and teams outside of the Giants' Central League are doomed to drown in red ink for all eternity. When the owners of the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Olics Blue Wave announced they were going to merge, effectively laying off half the players, a proposal was put forth to combine the two leagues into one. Owners relented when they faced a strike by all players, and they're in dicussions now about what can be done to help some of the less profitable teams.

A fun part of learning the Japanese language is memorizing the "counters." In Japanese, you use different words for counting different objects depending on what shape they are. If you're counting sheets of paper, you count with "mai" (ichi mai, ni mai, san mai, and so on). For any long, cylindrical object, you use "hon" (ippon, ni hon, san bon). (Roppingi, if you want to know, means "six trees" -- roku plus the "pon" counter, and ki is Japanese for tree.) There are some difficult ones to get down -- for example, an umbrella is counted with hon/pon because it's long and cylindrical when closed, but when it's opened, it's in a different shape. How do you count it? Does the Space Shuttle count as an airplane or a ship? Does comatose body or freshly-killed corpse get counted with the same counter as the one for people? We used to have lots of fun annoying our Japanese teacher back at SDSU with questions like these.

J-List brings you many unique things from Japan, and one cool category of item we like very much are the authentic high school uniforms made by Matsukameya of Nagoya. Each uniform is hand-sewn by the company to your own size measurements, and the detail on these uniforms is perfect, right down to the buttons and pleats on the skirts. We've added a new item to our lineup: authentic high school swimsuits which are great for a variety of cosplay applications.

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

  • First, for Gundam fans, we've got a dynamite item: a little folding table featuring Haro, the cute robot from the various Gundam TV series
  • Fans of Kubrick's amazing detailed block toys, we've got a deluxe set featuring all the characters of The Usual Suspects
  • We have a really cool traditional Japanese ashtray (or generic container to hold whatever you want) shaped like a Japanese 5 yen coin
  • For Hello Kitty fans, enjoy a wacky toy hammer shaped like Kitty-chan, which makes wacky sounds when you hit things with it
  • For fans of Japan's "sentai" (fighting team) shows, we've got a treat: Zebraman, a really amazing Japanese film exploring Japan's hero genre (region 2)
  • For fans of Japanese snacks enjoy delicious grape & cider sticks, very tart ume candies, ramune candy with vitamin C, and tasty white grape gummi
  • Freshly restocked snack items include Sushi Gummi, delicious Black Sugar Caramel from Morinaga, and the popular Black Black caffeine gum
  • Also, a traditional candy known as konpeito, which appeared in the film Spirited Away
  • Protect laptops and other similar items with an all-purpose soft zipper pouch, which we have in stock
  • Then for your kitchen, a cute Hanako Style holder for glasses, very stylish and cute
  • Clean any surface with handy cleaning tools, which remove oil and dirt easily from kitchen surfaces
  • We love My Neighbor Totoro, the famous film by Hayao Miyazaki -- enjoy fresh stock of many Totoro items, including the giant plush toy, several Totoro stuffed toys, Catbus soft plastic toys and more
  • Also, fresh stock of the cool Totoro alarm clock, made with real wood, a great way to wake up every morning
  • Finally, see fresh stock of our Cup Noodle coffee cups, more Sanrio ice cube trays, a great restocking of traditional "fude pen" brush pens, and more!

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

  • For fans of Japan's famous 18+ magazines, enjoy the new issue of Yasashite Shite Ne, aka Please Be Gentle With Me, now perfect bound
  • For fans of Japan's "wet" photography, we have a new magazine for you, Doppyu, dedicated to capturing gorgeous Tokyo girls in love hotels
  • Also, for fans of "jukujo" or mature ladies, we have a new photobook featuring lots of gorgeous, experienced gals
  • Next, enjoy the delightful glossy color photobook of Angel Eye, the sexy swimsuit idol team by Yellow Cab
  • Next, the super sexy Miki Kitamura shines in her first photobook -- a delightful cosplay fantasy photobook for you
  • H manga fans, we've got some excellent items for you today, starting with an amazing exploration of love by Izumi Comics, a romantic story about dating and love, and an amazing work by Kaoru Tachibana featuring amazing female characters
  • Doujinshi collectors, we've got some really rare and cool books for you, which parody the most famous anime characters you love
  • Also for yaoi fans, enjoy a bold new comic, "Forbidden Eden"
  • For our DVD customers, enjoy some great products, starting with Non Stop Uniform Idol, featuring 240 minutes of uniform and costume play, with Japan's top name starlets (region free)
  • Next, Soft on Demand goes to Hakata, in Kyushu, to see if they can make gorgeous local girls take it off for the camera (region free)
  • Then, SOD explores the world of She-Males in an interesting n ew DVD release (region free)
  • Then, enjoy a new "Clothed Female, Naked Male" release from Moodyz features gorgeous girls studying anatony, and their reactions are priceless (region 2)
  • Then enjoy various restocked DVDs including several new titles that come with free shipping (SAL or airmail) -- check out our great selection of products!

Remember that J-List sells our unique Japanese T-shirts featuring bizarre and aesthetically beautiful messages in Japanese, like "I'm looking for a Japanese girlfriend" or the Japanese emergency exit sign. We love the reactions we see from Japanese who see the shirts outside of Japan, and having a wacky message on your shirt is a great potential conversation starter. All shirts are 100%, printed in the USA, and all shirts are full U.S. sizes.