Today's J-List post is below. You can also read it on the J-List website or the JBOX.com site.
For the past week we've been treated toa little freedom of speech, Japan-style: the local right-wing group, angry for some reason at our city's major, has been driving their loudspeaker truck up and down the street calling for his resignation and generally howling bloody murder. By unhappy chance, we live right next to the mayor, which means we've gotten to hear all the ruckus. Exercising one's freedom of speech by broadcasting through loudspeakers is a uniquely Japanese phenomenon, and right wingers (closely associated with the yakuza) can often be seen rolling through Japanese cities playing patriotic World War II songs to the general amusement/annoyance of everyone. During election season, politicians spend hours giving speeches from cars with loudspeakers mounted on top, and in Tokyo, political groups opposing anything from higher taxes to Japan's participation in Iraq park their speaker trucks on a streetcorner and voluminously share their political views with everyone else.
I receive a lot of questions from people interested in living in Japan someday. While it certainly is difficult to come to a country as different from the U.S. or Europe as Japan is, it's certainly doable if you are determined. Many foreigners come to Japan on a tourist visa (3 months) and use that time to look for a job. When you find one, you have to leave the country once to process your working visa then re-enter on that visa -- most gaijin travel to nearby South Korea and do some sightseeing. Alternately, citizens of some lucky nations like Canada, Australia and New Zealand can come on "working holiday" visas instead. Westerners are usually shocked by the difficult system of "key money" you must pay when renting an apartment. Between a security deposit (2 months), a finders-fee (paid to the company that got the apartment for you), first months' rent and "thank you money" (a move-in bonus for your landlord), it can cost $2000-4000 just to move into a small apartment. Of course, any discussion of how to work in Japan is precluded by the fact that to get a working visa at all, you must have a degree from a four-year university. So whenever young people interested in Japan ask me how they can come here, I invariably advise them to find a good, well-rounded university and get a degree -- do that, and you'll be surprised how easily the rest can fall into place.
The most popular anime in Japan isn't Inu Yasha and it isn't Naruto. The anime Japanese identify as their favorite year-in and year-out is Doraemon (do-RAH-ey-mone), the blue "robot of cat type" who came who came from the 22nd century to modern-day Japan to save his friend Nobita-kun, a bit of a slacker, from marrying a different girl than history intended. Together they have many adventures, usually using the many magic items that Doraemon carries in his fourth-dimensional pocket, like the Dokodemo Door ("anywhere door") that lets him teleport to any place, a "small light" that shrinks anything it shines on, and his trusty time machine, the cause of many Back to the Future-style plot twists. The current staff of the long-running series including legendary Nobuyo Oyama, the voice of Doraemon since 1973, is due to retire soon, ending an era for Japanese fans of the show.
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.
Slight Fever Prince. For those who love yaoi, the dramatic boy's love comics Japan is famous for, this looks like a good magazine featuring lots of color art from comics, anime and games. We'll try to carry it regularly if we can.
Mini Plastic Model Collection. Every once in a while, my mind is totally blown by the things we sell at J-List. This is a set of candy toy (miniature model with candy) replicas of plastic models of Toho films made back in the 1950's and 60's, including the original Godzilla, Baragon, and more. The miniature boxes contains even smaller toys, again recreated in miniature that you can put together.
Reading and Writing in Japanese for Beginners. I've long wanted to get a supply of really good Japanese study items for J-List, and we're getting there. This is a full blown textbook foe learning to read Japanese, and it's very nicely done.
The Lesbian of a Swimming Suit. The Japanese do like their fetishes. One such genre in JAV is the swimsuit fetish, and here are three actresses wearing top-name swimsuits as they, well, do what you'd expect.
Ski Jumping Pairs -Official DVD. Remember OH! Mikey, how it was really odd and you didn't know what the hell it was? Here's something along those lines. Basically a fictional ski event at the 2006 Olympics, "Ski Jumping Pairs" is a fun CG movie showing people doing things that could only be done in CG. Very popular in Japan, we've finally gotten some in stock. The disc has an English announcer mode, too!