The Japanese often play with numbers in interesting ways, converting the numerals into sounds to make messages. Through a phonetic system I still don't understand completely, the number 084 can be read ohayo (good morning), 39 can be san kyu (which sounds like the English word "thank you"), and 4649 can be yoroshiku (pleased to meet you). Yesterday was February 9th, and since the numbers 2 and 9 can be read niku (which means "meat" in Japanese), butcher shops across Japan have decided to label the day as Meat Day, a special day to celebrate meat in all its many forms. February 9th is also my wife's birthday, and rather than getting the big plate o' sushi that we usually get on birthdays, we decided to head out for some yakiniku, a fun category of restaurant in which everyone sits around a grill built into your table and cooks meat and vegetables over a flame. Yakiniku (which just means "cooked meat") is a traditional Korean barbecue meal, slightly customized to Japanese tastes of course, and in addition to various kind of beef, chicken and vegetables, you can order kimchee and various Korean favorites. As with other Japanese dishes like sukiyaki or chanko-nabe (both basically pots of food you cook in the middle of a table, with everyone taking what they want to eat out), eating your dinner as a family together is one of the most enjoyable aspects of yakiniku.
Well, the unthinkable has happened: I'm starting to feel envious of cell phone users in the U.S. Oh, Japan still leads the design wars when it comes to making thin, stylish phones with cool 3G features like high-speed Internet, GPS, 3.2 megapixel cameras and even a phone with a 4 GB hard drive for listening to tunes. However, more and more I find myself looking at those cool Treo-type smart phones with those little keyboards and wish they sold things like that here. Part of the problem is that it's quite easy to enter Japanese text with a phone, since it's all syllable based -- entering arigatou （ありがとう） takes just five characters, which you enter by hitting the number keys (the 1 moves you through the A-I-U-E-O line, the 2 key is the KA-KI-KU-KE-KO line, and so on). Japanese who are used to keypad text entry can go very fast, and knowing Japan, somebody will have come up with a standardized test for fast and accurate typing using this method. Entering English text on a keypad is hell, though, and it takes several minutes just to peck out a simple sentence. Since there's little demand for phones with Blackberry-like features here, there isn't a single such device on the market in Japan, meaning that if I want get some email done out of the office, I have to bring my whole Powerbook with me.
One category of business that really took off over the past decade is the "recycle shop," Japanese parlance for a shop that buys stuff that people don't need anymore, cleans it up, and sells it for a profit. Today, everything from rice cookers to washing machines to skis to console games are bought and sold in Japan's new retail underground. The most successful of these stores is BookOff, a chain of used book stores that has hundreds locations in Japan. His shops include spin-off brands such as ToyOff (they sell "almost new" children's toys), PetOff (used stuff for your pet), and the very oddly named HardOff (used computer hardware and electronics). The other day I was eating Indian curry and noticed a store across the street called Golf Partner, a similar chain that took the "recycling" approach to selling golf clubs, allowing golf fans to buy used clubs cheaply. They seem to be doing well -- they have a national network of stores and promise to be able to search for any type of club from any manufacturer.
Among the many unique products J-List brings you are Comic AG, a super magazine of English-translated "H manga" that comes out about every two weeks. Each issue overflows with 80 pages of manga from top Japanese artists like Tohru Nishimaki, Fujio Okamoto and Yumisuke Kotoyoshi. While we have a huge selection of back issues, we're running low on some of the past issues like vol. 8-12, and when they're gone they won't be available again. Why not browse our selection of Comic AG issues, or go for a regular subscription?
Explore a new side of Japan with the unique PC dating-sim games that J-List sells, a great blend of story, characters and "H" done as only the Japanese could. With game concepts ranging from the hilarious (X-Change series) to the dramatic (Kana My Sister, who is dying of a terrible disease) to explorations of various interests like maid cosplay (I would have to recommend Little My Maid, a favorite of mine). Since the games all have multiple endings you can play agan and again and get a new ending each time, as you try to find all the endings and graphics in each game. Browse our incredible line-up of our "H" games now!