My wife continues her volunteer work at our daughter's elementary school, despite her misgivings about having the regular Japanese homeroom teachers being involved in teaching English when they often have no skills in that area. (The other day a boy got barked at for saying "How are you?" to my wife before she said it to him, as if there were a set rule that you could only greet others when greeted first.) Yesterday my wife was invited to eat lunch with the 5th graders, so she got to sit and have her first kyushoku (Japanese school lunch) in twenty years -- they served gratin, curry and minestrone soup. When it was time for her to go, my daughter gave her a big hug, which caused everyone in the room to stare in silence. The Japanese are not really into public displays of affection, and it was quite shocking for them to see. I'm sure it will give the kids the impression that Americans are all wildly emotional people who hug each other all the time.
Have you ever noticed the "peace sign" (aka the victory or V-sign) that Japanese people make with their fingers whenever they're having their photographs taken? It's almost the Japanese National Gesture, and quite puzzling to foreigners who wonder why every single Japanese seems to make this sign in every photograph, especially cute girls. While the origins of this strange pose are not known, I would guess that U.S. soldiers probably made the sign (originally popularized by Winston Churchill) while posing for photographs during Japan's occupation, and it entered the Japanese mind set at that time. When you say "peace" your face naturally smiles, the same as saying "cheese." Another way the Japanese get you to smile for a photograph is asking, "What's one plus one?" (in Japanese, Ichi tasu ichi wa?). The answer of course is ni (two), another word that naturally makes your face smile for the camera.
Japan's otaku culture continues to spread around the world, and the latest boom is called dakimakura (dah-kee MAH-koo-rah), also known as "hug pillows" or "body pillows." Essentially life-sized long pillows around which a beautiful printed pillow case is wrapped, these large pillows are the ultimate otaku decoration for your room, great to lay around with while watching TV. J-List now carries the popular hug pillow covers from Machi Chara and others, and we've posted the first great dakimakura for you, with your very own life-sized version of Choco from Chocotto Sister and Louise and Siesta from the anime Zero no Tsukaima. See them on the site now!
Remember that there's still time to get that special wacky item delivered by Halloween, thanks to speedy yet affordable EMS shipping method. Whether you want to decorate your door with the Hello Kitty Jack-o-Lantern items we have or you're trying to score one of those killer Anbu masks we just got back in stock, we'll rush your order out to you. Since we've got the best selection of Japanese snacks outside of the Land of the Rising Sun, you can also give something really special to the kids this year!