There are many differences between Japan and the U.S. Once I went to buy canned coffee from a vending machine, and noticed they had two sizes of the same coffee, with a choice of 200 or 350 ml sized cans (or 7 and 12 oz, for our American readers) for the same price. This struck me as very odd -- who wouldn't choose the larger can? I went for the bigger size, while the Japanese people I was with all chose the smaller can. Turns out they knew something I didn't, though. The amount of coffee in both cans was the same; the larger can contained more water, and didn't taste as good as the smaller can. Often, Americans are conditioned to perceive value based on size or quantity rather than taste, something I would never have noticed without coming to Japan.
Sadly, one of the major economic themes of Japan today is the triumph of inefficiency. When you drive past road construction, there are sure to be several men whose job it is to stand by the road with orange flashlights, ostensibly directing traffic even though everyone ignores them. Then there are the ever-present "parking old men" who do nothing more than stand in parking lots and direct you to a parking spot that you could have easily found yourself. NHK is Japan's public television network, funded by households paying $20 every month to NHK representatives who visit each house door-to-door to collect the money -- no one has ever considered doing direct deposit from people's bank accounts? Japan is a very cash-centric country, and personal checks (or cheques, for our European readers) don't exist here at all. When individuals or businesses need to send money to someone, they usually go to the bank and execute a manual bank transfer (furikomi), paying a $6 fee to the bank for this privilege.
Another bastion of inefficiency is the Japanese post office, but this might be changing soon, as Prime Minister Koizumi pushes for privatizing Japan's behemoth postal system. The Japanese post office does more than just deliver mail and sell stamps: they also operate as the worlds largest bank, holding $3.2 trillion in cash deposits for individuals at a whopping 0.02 rate of return and also selling government-backed insurance. The post office operates 25,000 branches of branches throughout the country, offering various local services and providing a place for elderly people to gather and talk, but it's terribly wasteful. There's a lot of opposition to the reform plans from Japan's 1 million postal employees, who fear losing jobs, and from rural areas which depend on postal services.
Now that summer is over, it will start getting cooler very soon. By customer request. we've got a great item for Domo-kun fans: a soft hoodie pullover featuring our popular Domo-kun face design. Extremely warm and well-made by Hanes, this new Domo-kun hoodie is a super way to stand out in a crowd and keep warm at the same time.
For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of Kill Bill's character GoGo Yubari, we've got a special treat: Chiaki Kuriyama's sexy image DVD (region free)
- For fans of elegant Japanese women, we have a great photobook of the lovely Akane Sakura, a truly beautiful thing
- Next, see stock of the long-lost vol. 3 of Gothic & Lolita Bible, for fans of the goth lifestyle -- filled with gorgeous photos and a pattern you can use to make a gothic outfit!
- We have a great new Frog Style item in stock for you, with cute frog "omikuji" (notes which tell you if you're going to have good luck today or not), so cute and very Japanese!
- For fans of our Japanese snacks, we have a tasty new flavor of Pocky for you: Royal Milk Tea, which tastes just like a rich, creamy cup of tea!
- Also, tasty sesame + brown sugar treats, delicious "Healthy Club" food bars, and "shake shake gummy" treats that are really tasty
- Restocked snack items include Pizza Pretz, Baked Apple Pretz, traditional Okinawan "black candy," and Japanese chewing gum, including Blue Citrus (my personal favorite)
- Pingu is very popular in Japan -- we've got some cute pens of Pingu and his girlfriend, Pinga, very fun to write with
- From the famous toy maker Kaiyodo, we have a fabulous pre-painted "She-Devil" figure that will really look great on display in your room or office
- Light your way in style with new varieties of sushi lights, cool keychains featuring incredibly realistic sushi pieces that are useful little flashlights when you squeeze them
- For Totoro fans, a very special item: Totoro and Cat Bus stamps with cool messages in Japanese (they are really cool to keep on your desk)
- Also, fresh stock of the popular Totoro Catbus keychain and Nausicaa on Meve figure, both very cool
- Next, enjoy some authentic Japanese bamboo chopsticks that are very traditional and look cool
- For fans of the classic anime by Tezuka Osamu, the creator of manga and anime in its present form, we've added his 2005 calendar to our site for preordering
- Happy faces are popular in Japan (a friend once told me they are "very American") -- we have a cute new pencil case with happy faces on now
- Then, we have a handy item for your bathroom or kitchen for hanging hand towels
- Finally, look for more wacky Japanese notebooks with funny English on them, more shogi boards, fresh stock of Felix the Cat bubble gum, and more!
For our 18+ customers, we've got many new products. The new items include:
- For fans of sexy Japanese girls, enjoy the new issue of Aishite Ageru, aka I'll Love You, featuring real couples in love hotels and beyond
- Then we've got the new issue of Bachelor, filled with hot girls from around the world, including Eastern Europe
- Then enjoy the dynamite hardcover photobook of Akane Sakura, a delightful Japanese sexy idol
- For H manga fans, we have some excellent comics for you, including a great work of first love by Tenma Comics, a compilation of "elevator girl" works, and more
- Also, a deluxe oversized manga with superb artwork and H story by Tsukasa Midoh's Mysterious Mind
- Doujinshi fans, we've added more excellent collectable books to our site for you, with some great new books by Japan's popular doujinshi circles
- Also, a special item: vol. 4 & 5 of the popular Dulce Report, by the famous "chicks with..." circle Behind Moon
- For our DVD customers, enjoy a parody of English conversation teachers in Japan -- but instead of studying English, the lovely Brazilian Victoria teaches something much more fun (region free)
- Next, we have a new concept by SOD: gorgeous girls who photograph themselves while you watch (region free)
- From Moodyz and director Kenshiro, enjoy a very sexy "private dance" by 15 different gorgeous JAV idols, including top names such as Akira Watase, Shuri Himesaki, Yuria, and Ran Asakawa (region 2)
- Then enjoy a special 4 hour Dream Woman Best offering featuring the most memorable performances of Moodyz Dream Woman series (region 2)
- Finally, look for fresh stock of various DVD titles, including "hitozuma" and race queen titles, and more DVDs with free shipping!
Interested in learning more about Japan? We recommend trying some of our "reserve subscription" magazines, a great way to get the current magazines from Japan sent to you every month. You can get regular subscriptions to anime magazines like Animage, Newtype Japan and the excellent Megami Magazine, hobby magazines like Figure Maniacs and Hobby Japan, alternative fashion magazines like Kera and SMART, and other great items.