One of the more interesting occurrences when learning a foreign language is becoming able to "think" in that language, when ideas or answers to questions come out directly as opposed to first being converted from English, a process that takes time and makes participating in quick-flowing conversations impossible. The brain is very much like a computer, but one that's capable of re-wiring itself as needed. Learning a language can cause some pretty interesting changes to take place on the old wet-ware, and there are times when you can almost feel that process at work. Another landmark is when you dream in your second language for the first time. I remember my first dream in Japanese very well: it was during finals week at SDSU and I was stressing out over informal verbs (Japanese has lots of verb forms, formal, informal, passive, suggestive, and so on). In my dream I was in a tall building, running up some stairs. I kept meeting Japanese people along the way, and I conversed with them in rapid nihongo despite the fact that I'd taken less than a year of Japanese at the time. I had no idea what I was saying, of course, but in the dream-world I was nevertheless able to communicate freely about any subject I cared to talk about. It was pretty cool, but of course it had to end when it was time to wake up.
Saturday is Setsubun, a fun day for anyone with kids in Japan. Originally falling on New Year's Eve of the old Lunar Calendar that Japan used until 1868, it's a day when oni (devils) will be symbolically chased out of the house so that happiness can reign during the New Year. The father of the house will assume the role of a devil, wearing a paper mask that makes him look scary. When the devil attacks, the children pelt him with baked soybeans and chase him off, shouting Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi! ("Out with devils, in with happiness!"). When the devils are sufficiently vanquished, everyone is supposed to eat their age in soybeans to help guarantee good health in the coming year. This is easy for a child of eight or so to do, but quite a bit harder for parents getting up there in years, since 38 soybeans is quite a lot to crunch down. Another tradition of Setsubun is to eat maki-zushi, or roll sushi, so that the long roll of sushi can point the way to happiness for that year, or something like that.
2007 Japanese Calendar Season was a big success for J-List, and we sold more great anime, JPOP, cute idol, traditional photography and other calendars than ever before. We've gone through and removed some pending orders that hadn't been paid for, which means that several previously "sold out" 2007 calendars are -- incredibly -- available once again. This is really, really your last chance to pick up that cool JPOP, anime, cute idol or other calendar, so browse our selection now!