Today's J-List post is below. You can also read it on the J-List website or the JBOX.com site.
It's been said that Japan is the only country that cares what its foreign population thinks, and I've definitely seen this to be true. Books about Japan written by foreigners who live here are often translated into Japanese and sell briskly, and the nightly broadcast of World Business Satellite wouldn't be complete without the nerdy gaijin analyst from Morgan Stanley giving his view of the recent movements in the market to round out the Japanese commentators. I've definitely seen that my own comments seem to carry a lot more weight than those of the average Japanese. Smoking is common in Japan, and it's not rare for restaurants to not even offer non-smoking sections, but two restaurants we frequent recently converted part of their space, almost definitely (according to my Japanese wife) because of polite comments I, being a foreigner, had made to the staff about cigarette smoke. Another time, I went to a restaurant and found the restroom to be a little on the smelly side. I carefully mentioned this to the manager, and when I went back a month later, I was surprised to find the restroom had been completely renovated (or as they say in Japan, "reformed"). Maybe my comment had nothing to do with this, but I have my doubts. Japanese people usually seem to hold the concept of gaman (patience, tolerance) to be a good one, stoically enduring a bad situation rather than trying to change it. Personally, I prefer to try to make the world a better place when I can...
Tokyo is the sprawling capital of Japan, home to 12 million people, a number which rises by several million during the day as people commute to their jobs from the surrounding areas. It's not a city at all, but one of Japan's 47 prefectures, although it's got a special status as a "metropolis," not unlike the District of Columbia in the U.S. Inside Tokyo there are 23 ku (wards), 26 shi (cities), 5 machi (towns) and 8 mura (villages), and my Tokyo friends tell me it's cooler to live in one of the wards since you get a phone number that starts with 03, not one of the inferior ones that start with 04. Some of the more famous areas of Tokyo are Shinjuku, a shopping and business area with many famous anime landmarks; Shibuya, a hip area for young people and home of Japan's most famous dog statue; Harajuku, where people dress like they do in FRUiTs magazine; stylish Ginza, home of Japan's only Apple Store; and Akihabara, where people come to buy electronics and eat in "cosplay cafes" (where the waitress dress in interesting costumes).
One of the interesting features of Japanese are the numbers of euphemisms they use for embarrassing things. Cute slang words are usually substituted for terms referring to various parts of the body, or else kanji characters are created to make a stand-in word, like combining the characters for "shadow" and "stem" to refer to that part of a man. There are so many ways to refer to woman's gekkei (menstruation) that I've actually never heard the normal term used even once. They include seiri (which simply means "biology"), okyakusama ga kiteiru ("I've got a guest staying with me"), hatabi ("flag day," in reference to the Japanese flag), and from a few years back, anne no hi or Anne's Day, something to do with the Diary of Anne Frank. A useful catch-all euphemism for just about anything is are (ah-rei), which literally means "that one over there" but can refer to any object you don't want to name openly. Another famous Japanese euphemism, as any anime fan knows, is the letter H, pronounced with a Japanese accent (ecchi), which refers to anything to do with sex.
Here are today's "really cool products" that I thought were especially noteworthy. Note: the J-List links below may be for adult products and should probably be considered "not safe for work." See the JBOX.com site if under 18 or offended by this kind of stuff.
Colors Anthology Comic. At J-List, we sell a lot of hentai manga, meaning adult comics. (The link is definitely not safe for work.) Hands down, the most popular genre has become "dick girl" or females with bulbous, glistening cosks. Japan can be funny that way, can't it?
Japanese "Tatami" Sandal. Confession time -- no Japanese would call this sandal a "tatami sandal" because that'd be silly, however it describes what the item is so we use the term. These are cool outdoor sandals with tatami surfaces, very cool and Japanese.
Domo-kun Pen - Film Director. Domo-kun, if you don't know, is the spokesmonster for Japan's public television network, NHK, and has become an icon of the Internet. Here are some new pens that feature Domo as a director and cameraman, hard at work.
Dream Polygamy. Indies studio Moodyz deserves credit for turning on outdated Biblical marriage practice into an interesting porn concept. The newest release by the company puts you at the center of three lovely young wives who are eaget to serve their husband. It's a region 2 disc (indies releases usually are), so you'd need a special player or computer to view.
Japanese T-shirt "Rated H" (fitted girl's tee). "H," as I suspect you already know, represents anything sexual or perverted in Japanese. It probably comes from the word Hentai, although there are counter-theories to this. Anyway, here's a girl's version of our popular "Rated H" shirt for girls, available by customer request.