Sumo wrestling is quite famous as a symbol of Japan, although it's been around since prehistoric times. The current top wrestler in Japan's professional league is the celebrated Mongolian Asashoryu (ah-sa-SHO-ryu, "morning blue dragon"), a powerhouse who has won no less than 21 tournaments in his stellar career since attaining the rank of Yokozuna (Grand Champion) in 2003. Unfortunately, things just haven't been going his way lately. First, he ducked out of the summer exhibition bouts in Northern Japan citing an injury but was mysteriously well enough to play in a soccer game with Hidetoshi Nakata for charity, which caused a big uproar in Japan when it was reported. Convinced that Asashoryu had over-stated his injury in order to take a vacation, the Sumo Association called him back to Japan to explain himself. In the end they banned him from playing in the next two sumo tournaments, a first for a Yokozuna, and docked his pay for four months (ouch). As the official national sport of Japan, sumo is taken very seriously, and sumo wrestlers are expected to have
When a gaijin goes to live in Japan, one of the first things he has to do is get a hanko (name stamp) made and get it registered with the city office. These name stamps are used in lieu of signing your name on documents, filling out forms at the bank, and signifying agreement to any kind of contract. A custom imported from China ages ago, name stamps are a big part of contemporary Japanese life, and even companies like Apple and J-List have them, being legal entities. For foreigners fascinated with Japanese characters, there are several ways to write your name. For example, you could choose the most orthodox route and write your name in katakana, the writing system specifically used for that purpose. If this is too boring, you can find kanji that can be read like your name. For my own last name, I might choose the "peh" sound from Peking (北京） since there's no official way to write that sound in Japanese, and the "in" character from Byodoin (平等院), my favorite Buddhist temple in the Kyoto area. Or I could pick a kanji that meant roughly what my name means and "force" a reading onto it, which is called ateji. Since last name comes from the French "pan," something similar to the English last name Baker, I could dig up an archaic kanji for "bread" and declare that this kanji is now pronounced "Payne." No one would be able to read it, but it'd be my kanji nevertheless. Incidentally, J-List has started a great custom name stamp service, allowing up to get the kanji you'd like on one of three cool Japanese stamps. They're fully registrable as legal hanko stamps, too -- order your kanji name stamp now!
Announcing the start of 2008 Calendar Season! Every year about this time, J-List starts taking preorders for the outstanding calendars from Japan, which are printed exclusively for the Japanese market. The calendars we sell every year come in two volleys: first, we post dozens of amazing calendars that capture the natural beauty of Japan; the delicate imagery of a tea garden; the aesthetic beauty of Japanese sushi or bento; kanji calendars for students; lovely idols in kimono and more. Most of the JPOP and anime calendars will be posted in a couple weeks. Browse the amazing 2008 calendars we've got on the site for you now and get your preorders in!