Friday, February 25, 2011

Linguistic Confusion in the Bath

I write often about how vague and imprecise the Japanese language can be, and how easy it is for foreigners to not know what's being said, but native Japanese speakers can sometimes run into trouble with vagueness, too. From the time my kids were small I took them to the local onsen hot springs bath every week, and when my daughter got too big to come into the men's bath with me, she started going into the woman's bath by herself. One day a woman was talking with her and said, Okaasan inai no? which could mean "Isn't your mother here with you?" or possibly "Don't you have a mother?" My daughter misunderstood the woman's nuance and answered in the affirmative, causing the woman to think my daughter had no mother due to death or divorce. Now every time she goes to the bath she knows the woman will be there, fussing over her and asking her if she's getting enough to eat, etc. She didn't correct the misunderstanding right away, and too many years have passed by now to ever do so.

The Least Polite People in Japan: the Boso-zoku

One impression foreigners get when they come to Japan is how nice and polite most Japanese people are, always saying shitsurei shimasu (excuse me) and showing concern for others in ways few would likely do in the U.S. or Europe. While I do believe the Japanese are the most polite people on the planet, a lot of this perception by foreigners comes from the fact that they're usually viewed as okyakusan, or "guests" during their stay in Japan, and are likely to be treated with additional layers of deference for that reason. The least polite group in Japan would have to be the boso-zoku, the noisy street gangs who love to drive through cities on motorcycles modified to be as loud as possible -- kind of like the biker gangs in Akira, but a whole lot less interesting. Despite their scary appearance, they're generally harmless, content to make noise and rage against Japan's overly conformist society, not seeing the irony of their conforming to smaller sub-groups while doing so. Happily it seems these colorful-but-annoying biker gangs might be on their way out, with a new report that says the number of gang members has dropped below 10,000, down from a high of 42,000 in 1982.

Real boso-zoku are less interesting than in Akira

Cell Phones and Japan

My high school entrance gift to my son was to get him an iPhone 4, so the other day we went down to the Softbank store together.Cell phones have become incredibly important to all of us, but in Japan, where many people lack technical skills we generally take for granted such as being able to use spreadsheet software on a PC, they're indispensable. It's a tumultuous time for the Japanese cell phone industry as companies are forced to change their business models due to pressure from the outside. Everyone was sure the iPhone would be a flop in Japan, a country where people loved clamshell phones with numeric keypads that allowed them to type in Japanese faster than they could with a QWERTY keyboard. But the usefulness of the iPhone slowly changed their minds, and now you see them everywhere in Tokyo. Android is also starting to take off, thanks to KDDI marketing the platform with Lady Gaga and the handsome boy-band Arashi. While modern smartphones are awesome, I still like checking the rows of regular phones to see what new gimmicks manufacturers have thought up. Some of the current ones include phones with high quality digital cameras built into them, easy-to-use GPS phones for children or the elderly, and Sony Bravia® or Sharp Aquos® phones for people who want to carry the same brand of cell phone as the TV in their living room for some reason.

Cell phones are extremely important to the Japanese.

J-List [hearts] Prepainted Anime Figures

One reason we like working at J-List is the awesome anime figures we get to play with sell. J-List has hundreds of gorgeous prepainted figures either in stock or available for preorder, from cute "super deformed" Nendoroid and highly posable Figma figures to rare "prize" figures normally only obtainable from UFO Catcher crane games and sexy "cast off" figures with clothing that can be, ah, "reconfigured." I especially love the Gothic Lolita figures we posted today, which I could stare at for hours.

Cool Products Friday, February 25, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
Animedia Mar 2011
My Little Sister Can't Be This Animedia?! The Oreimo craze rolls on in this month's issue of the fun anime magazine that focuses on the fans and everything they love about all the current anime in Japan. Stay current with this new issue, plus great bonus posters!
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Evangelion Nerv Black Motor Cycle Glove
Evangelion Motorcycle Gloves, 'Itasha' Car Stickers If you're like us and you can never have enough Eva in your life, check out these sleek NERV-themed gloves and Eva girl car decals!
2011 Desktop School Calendar 2011  Ore no Imoto
Oreimo 2011 School Calendar, Mug Cup "My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute," but she can be on your desktop through the Japanese school year - also on a comfy cushion, preorders open now!
Mini Mar 2011
Mini Mar 2011 The magazine that brings all the hot fashion trends to the fore and shows off the merits of each, packed with news on clothes and accessories!
Momoeri Romantic Panties (G-Magic)  Black size M
Momoeri Romantic Panties (G-Magic) While we're on the topic of fashion, check out these amazingly cute and ero lace panties from Momoeri.
Hiragana Times 293 March 2011
Hiragana Times 293 March 2011 The magazine that both enlightens about Japan and teaches you Japanese with an intuitive phonetic approach combined with kanji, another great issue!
iTunes Japan Music Card
iTunes Japan Prepaid Music Cards Find awesome anime or JPOP songs, or Japan-only anime games like the free Moe Capsule Toy Game.
Square Totoro Tight Bento Box Brown
Restocked Totoro Bento Boxes Do you like Totoro? We love our friendly neighbor from Studio Ghibli, and try to keep great products like these bento in stock for you at all times.
Nausicaa and Laputa Fox Squirrel -- Kitsune Risu
Fox Squirrel, Totoro Plush Toys Other adorable items from Studio Ghibli are back in stock today, from the Nausicaa fox-squirrel to plush Totoros that you'll love.
Happy Maneki Neko Display   Lucky Cat w/Parody Mini 1000,000 Yen
Happy Maneki Neko Display ~ Lucky Cat The 'lucky cat' is an icon of traditional Japanese culture that is sure to bring good fortune and prosperity, an adorable new version here today!
Daruma Bell Key Chain
Daruma Bell Key Chain  Lucky cats aren't the only traditional symbols of good fortune, with cute daruma heads serving the same function. Keychains, too!
New SAND de PANDA -- Clover  Push Style Easy Sandwich Maker
No, this isn't sand made of pandas - "sand" is "sandwich" and "panda" is "pan da!" meaning "it's bread!" These great bento tools will get your meals looking more fun than ever, with clover-shaped crust removers as well as heart sandwich sealers to bring out your most creative lunchmaking style.
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Japanese T-Shirt - YUKKURI (Take it Easy)  Touhou
Super Anime & Otaku T-Shirts Overheard on Twitter: "I ran into someone wearing J-List's 'Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend' shirt, and I was wearing my 'Yukkuri' shirt."
'I Like What I Like' - Girl's Fitted
Awesome T-Shirts for Girls, Too In addition to our standard shirts, we have a line of popular girl's fitted tees, like, "I Like What I Like So Get Off My Back" (which we got from a BL game).
FritoLay Doritos -- Soy Sauce  Mayonnaise
Got a great lineup of new snacks today. First enjoy "gourmet" Doritos from FritoLay Japan, in Soy Sauce & Mayonnaise flavor. Then we have Suntory Sparkling Soda in...chocolate flavor. Plus awesome Mango Chocolate, Samurai Cookies in the shapes of famous warrior families from Japan's history.
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Koikeya 'Nori Shio' Potato Chips
Restocked Japanese Snacks 'Real Gold' energy drink, Lotte Strawberry Chocolate, Bourbon Fruit Candy, Crunky Strawberry, and much more, back in stock today!
First Kiss (Kiss ga Shitakunaru)  Japanese Food Drops
First Kiss, Green Tea, 'Moe Melon' Food Drops "Food drops" in the classic tin inspired by Grave of the Fireflies are all the rage, in the most amazing flavors imaginable. "Moe melon"? Heck yes!
Genuine Lacquered Miso Soup Bowl Style Bento Box  Rabbit
Elegant Traditional Bento Boxes Restocked We've got some of our best bento boxes back in stock today, with fine traditional designs to bring a touch of class to your lunch presentation.
Deco Bento Furikake 5 Colors  Salmon Flavor
Deco Bento Furikake 5 Colors Furikake is any dry food you sprinkle over rice, and we've restocked several types today, incl. "Deco Bento Furikake." Fun!
Pocketmonster PIKACHU  3D ONIGIRI Shaper
Shaped Rice Balls Onigiri are the rice balls the Japanese eat like sandwiches, considered the "soul food" of Japan. See fresh stock of the Pikachu rice ball shaper!
Hello Kitty DECO Bento Set  Onigiri Shaper  Mayonnaise Cup  Furikake Stencil
Hello Kitty Bento Accessories &More We also carry fun Hello Kitty bento items, since nothing is more fun than combining those two things.
Simple Brown B5 Notebook  6mm ruled 30sheets
Simple Brown B5 Notebook ~ 6mm ruled 30sheets Fans of Japanese stationery will enjoy the simple, functional appeal of the notebooks we carry like this one, great for home or school writing needs.
Sun-Star Paper StitchLock Zn
StitchLock Paper Stitchers, Scissor Pens, More J-List stocks epic pens, erasers and more from Japan. See our StitchLock Zn which "stitches" sheets of paper together for you, our Pen Type Scissors + more.
The Manga Cook Book
The Manga Cook Book, Manga Sisters See fresh stock of the popular Manga Cook Book loaded with information on Japanese food and bento, plus Manga Sisters and Manga Moods.
Pink Lucky Hello Kitty Omamori Strap for Love
Restocked Traditional Products Hello Kitty omamori charms, traditional miso soup bowls, chopsticks, and much more are among the traditional items back in stock today!
Raquel Gothic 1/6 Figure by Vispo **Preorder**
Raquel Gothic Figures by Vispo *Preorder* Wow, words don't describe how awesome this new Vispo-sculpted figure is - just look at those wings. An epic preorder figure that's sure to be popular!
Cloud Play Arts 'Kai' Action Figure  DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY **Preorder**
Final Fantasy Action Figures *Preorder* Cloud and the other Dissidia Final Fantasy characters star in this great new Play Arts action figure collection, up for preorder today!
Kirino Kosaka Car Sunshade  Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai **Preorder**
There's no way my car sunshade could.... you know the rest. Oreimo and Index fans will love these sun shades. which will make your car the most awesome one in the lot at the summer anime conventions.
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Dengeki Moeoh April 2011
The definitive collector's artbook magazine of all things moe and cute in Japan, you'll love this brand new issue of Dengeki Moeoh stuffed full of cute bishoujo illustrations from the best artists in the industry, and great extras too!
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Koi Suru J Cup  My Lovely J Cup -- Yui Serizawa
My Lovely J Cup ~ Yui Serizawa The amazing Yui Serizawa shows off her impressive assets in this full nude photobook that shows us every angle we'd want to see.
Yulia Nova Photobook Part 4
Yulia Nova Photobooks Restocked Also enjoy fresh stock of the gorgeous photobooks of Yulia Nova, Russia's most beautiful woman, or at least that's how the Japanese see it.
irenka  Kagami Visual Works (irenka 1 + irenka 2)
irenka ~ Kagami Visual Works One of the most popular eroge artists around, Kagami presents well over 300 pages spanning 2 artbooks of dripping ecchi goodness!
Tony Works Ciel Chronicle
Tony Taka Artbooks Restocked Master illustrator Tony Taka's epic artbooks are back in stock, among the best hentai works Japan has ever seen.
TENGA FLIP LITE US The master engineers at SOD know how to sculpt a stress relief device. The "U.S." in the name means it's larger, for "gaijin size."
TENGA FLIP LITE LOTION ~ White or Black And here the lotion to go along with it, in an equally stylish presentation. Tenga knows what they're doing when it comes to keeping things fluid!
Classic Pink Rotar, DENMA Restocked The classic pink "Rotar" [sic] massager is restocked, plus the legendary DENMA series, for our female customers who need to let off some steam.
Fera Zoma
Also: Fera Zoma, Pepee Lotion A mouth-shaped love hole is back in stock for you to enjoy, along with restocks of Pepee lotion in a robust volume for multiple uses.
Tears to Tiara
Tears to Tiara The epic RPG from Leaf, makers of To Heart 2, and inspired by Welsh Legend! Play as the demon Arawn and romance the game's moe heroines.
Sexy Beach ZERO
Import Eroge Restocked, Too Enjoy the elegant Fortune Arterial, the great BALDR SKY Dive 1, Princess Hunting Dungeon Master, plus the very popular Sky Beach ZERO 3D game.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are Zombies Animate or Inanimate?

In addition to updating J-List three times a week with slice-of-life news and observations from Japan and posting updates to our Facebook Page, I maintain a Twitter feed, posting site updates and random things that occur to me. I like Twitter because I can talk with customers directly, asking questions and getting feedback. The other day, one of my Twitter followers tweeted: "I've been meaning to ask, do you use iru or aru for the zombies in the impending corpse-ridden apocalypse?" This is one of the first puzzling areas of Japanese grammar students encounter, the rule that you express "to be (in a place)" with the verb iru / imasu if the object is living and moving, like a person or a dog, and aru / arimasu for inanimate objects like a house, a plant, or a car. I remember tormenting my Japanese teacher with similar questions. How about a freshly killed corpse? A plant that moves like a Venus Fly Trap? Robots like C3P0 and R2D2? (For the record, the Japanese staff of J-List reports that zombies and robots would use iru since you can interact with them, but all plants would use aru.)
Gal Mama

Zombies present a challenge to Japanese grammar.

Bar Code Hair

Do you have a cat's tongue? If so, it means that you can't eat hot food or drink hot drinks, just like a cat. The Japanese say that anyone who avoids hot food has a cat's tongue (neko jita), and whenever my wife makes hot food for dinner she gives a few ice cubes to our son in a cup, since he doesn't like hot things. There are other interesting observations the Japanese make about things. If you have a bit of a lazy eye problem the Japanese might say you are ron-pari which is Japanese for "London, Paris" -- i.e. one eye is looking at London and the other is looking at Paris. And men with only a little hair on the tops of their heads have what the Japanese call "bar code hair." I love the creative expressions of the Japanese.
Mt. Fuji

Men (and dogs) with thinning hair on top have "bar code hair."

Would You Wait In Line for a Hot Pretzel?

I recently saw a news article about U.S.-based Auntie Anne's Pretzels, which had opened its first location in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The new location had become a hit with Tokyoites, drawing lines of several hours. This made me think of two things, the first being that it's about time we get some American-style soft pretzel goodness in this country. I love Pocky and Pretz as much as the next person, but the ongoing lack of delicious Western-style pretzels has been inexplicable in a country that manages to produce Wasabi Cheetos and Grilled Steak Doritos for us. My second thought was to smile at the image of dozens of Japanese queuing for hours to buy hot pretzels. There's something about the psyche of the Japanese that makes them very happy to stand in line for hours for something delicious, and J-List's Yasu reports, "If I don't have to wait before eating it, I don't want it." I can attest that food does seem to taste better when you have to wait for it. Once my son and I were in Tokyo where we happened across a ramen shop with a long line of universitatis students waiting to eat. Betting that there was no way the ramen could be anything other than incredible, we took a chance and got in line, and it was the best thing we'd ever eaten.

Mt. Fuji

You have to wait to buy Krispy Kreme in Tokyo.

Cool Products Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
Bomb Mar 2011
Bomb Mar 2011 The rebuilt, expanded version of Bomb magazine continues with a brand new issue packed full of all the great gravure and bikini models we love.
Haruhi Suzumiya Figma Action Figure 'Shoushitsu' ver. **Preorder**
Many New Figures in Stock Haruhi "Disappearance" school uniform version, Black Rock Shooter Nendoroid, that delicious Tsumugi by Kotobuki, and other awesome items in stock.
Totoro Annual Plate 2011 Limited Edition
Be one of the few to own this rare commemorative plate celebrating the legacy of Studio Ghibli's landmark creation of Totoro, and the warm feelings he's brought to fans around the world. Genuine Noritake china, made in Japan.
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Totoro *Large* Blanket -- 140 X 200cm
Totoro Blankets, Pillows, Plush Toys Also, the last stock of the season of our Totoro blankets, plus awesome Totoro pillows, and an "anatomically correct" Cat Bus plush for your car?
Hello Kitty Moffle  Waffle Maker Pan
Epic Hello Kitty Products Everything from waffle irons to silicon cake molds to berry scent dispensers and much more, the universe of Kitty will add kawaii to your life!
Border Break Modeling Works  Hobby Japan Special
Border Break Modeling Works ~ Hobby Japan Special The world of the Border Break arcade game and model series is celebrated in this Hobby Japan exclusive, complete with extra parts!
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 30  Science Projects for Adult -- Theo Jansen's Mini Beast (Animaris Ordis Parvus)
Gakken Otona no Kagaku Science Kits Recreate the amazing kinetic sculpture Strandbeest with the new Otona no Kagaku science magazine + kit. Instructions now in English!
Moe Moe Encyclopedia  Armor (Bougu Jiten)
Moe Moe Encyclopedia ~ Armor The latest volume of Moe Encyclopedia showcases the world of traditional armor from around the world, as worn by beautiful 2D girls.
Girls Girls Girls! 6  Fetish Girl Collection
Restocked Artbooks & More Whether you're looking for traditional shunga, girls in school uniforms, K-on! artbooks, or Masamune Shirow, it's restocked today!
Rilakkuma Dock Connector Neck Strap for iPhone 4 and iPod
Rilakkuma Dock Connector Neck Strap Keep your phone or Apple music player secure and in reach with this cute strap. Works with all dockable iPods and iPhone.
Rilakkuma Silicon Grill Mold
Rilakkuma Silicon Cooking Mold, Plush Toys Japan's "relax bear" may not bring zen enlightenment, but he will make you slow down and enjoy life more. Cooking ring and plush speaker restocked.
Geisha Sexy Yukata  Blue
Geisha Sexy Yukata, Gymnastics Uniforms We've got all your cosplay and sexy Japanese outfit needs taken care of at J-List, from kimono and yukata to those anime gym uniforms. Cosplay is fun!
The Pose Book of The Girls in Pretty School Uniform For Artists  Winter Uniform ver.  Seifuku Fashion Pose Shu
The Pose Book of Girls in Pretty School Uniforms Whether you're an aspiring artist or a fan of school uniforms this book is the perfect resource for deeper investigation of the genre.
Genki I (Second Edition) Workbook  An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 Workbook
The tried and true solution for Japanese learners for years, the Genki Japanese textbook series has been updated for 2011 and this is the brand new flagship edition of the first volume - the perfect introduction to the Japanese language for any serious or casual student.
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learn japanese with ds
More DS Japanese Study  Learn hiragana and katakana with Doraemon and Anpanman, test your kanji skills, and make your kanji more beautiful.
JLPT Level Grammar Plus! (Internet Download Edition Set)
JLPT Level Grammar Plus! (Internet Download) Another great way for students to improve is to study specifically for the JLPT test, and now you can learn with classical music in the background.
Nestle Green Tea Kit Kat Mini Pack
Oh's time for Green Tea Kit Kat, finally announced and available in a nice large bag you can enjoy with the whole family. Also enjoy Meiji Tasty Cinnamon Chocolate (wow), and Hi-Chew "Golden Pine" (we're pretty sure this means pineapple).
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Chura Moe Pineapple Milk (Okinawa)  Japanese Food Drops
Moe Food Drops from Okinawa Enjoy delicious Chura Moe Pineapple Milk "Food Drops" from Okinawa, Japan's exotic southernmost prefecture, plus Okinawa beer and Awamori sake.
Dydo Hot Cake Mix Drink
Hot Cake Drink, Various Snacks Restocked The Pancakes in a Cat drink is restocked, plus Steak Doritos, Akiba Green Tea Manju, Cool Berry and Fit's gum plus Potelong potato snacks. Om nom nom.
Dragon Ball Lunch Box
Dragon Ball Lunch Box  A blast from the past with this nostalgic and awesome Dragon Ball themed bento 'ball,' with its own carrying bag!
Rilakkuma Brown 2-Tier Bento Box
Pokemon Bento Restocked, Too Also: the legendary Pokeball Bento Box is restocked, too, one of our favorite anime-themed lunchboxes (lunchballs?) ever.
MANEKINEKO Die-cut Lucky 2 tier Bento Box with Elastic Band
Other Fun Bento Boxes Restocked Whether Japan's 'lucky cat' is your fancy, you like schoolbus bento or traditional kanji/kimono patterns, we've got the boxes in stock for you!
TAMAGOYAKI Mini Square Pan
TAMAGOYAKI Mini Square Pan, More Make perfect scrambled egg sushi with this perfectly shaped pan. Or try your hand at takoyaki with the delicious griddle perfect for it!
4 Taps Squid-Type AC Adapter from Elecom
Awesome and Stylish Computer Products from Elecom Power your electronic devices in style or accessorize your peripherals with the awesomely engineered lineup of tech enhancements from Elecom.
Blue Gradational Diary Notebook  36 pages
Gradational Diary Notebook ~ 36 pages A "diary"-style notebook explicitly purposed for recording your memories and daily experiences in a one-of-a-kind way, great for journal keepers!
Portable Ball Point Pen with Carabiner  Red
Portable Ball Point Pen with Carabiner Clip Never lose your pen again with this handy carabiner-equipped writing utensil! Extra useful for anyone on the go. A great idea.
Lucky Fox 'MIMI' Pen   Black  Red
Other Pens, Erasers, More The quirky and useful Japanese stationery and writing utensil industry never fails to delight, with 'ear' pens and 'endless corner' erasers and more!
Basic Green SENKO / Buddist Incense Stick   Sandal Wood
Basic SENKO / Buddhist Incense Stick Then, we've gotten in some elegant senko (incense) sticks which can be used either to bring a bit of Japanese atmosphere to your home.
Squeezing Soft DAIBUTSU
Restocked Traditional Products Squeeze your way through the 108 impure thoughts that humans are subject to with this fun stress toy, or enjoy Lucky Cat keychains & key covers.
Yui Hirasawa 1/8 Figure by Max Factory **Preorder**
Other Awesome Preorder Figures *Preorder* Yui from K-On! by Max Factory, Nendoroid Lynette from Strike Witches, a new Hatsune Miku figure and more, all up for preorder today!
Saber 1/8 Figure Summer ver. Fate/stay night **Preorder**
Awesome Fate/stay night Figures *Preorder* Saber and Rin from Fate parade onto your desk or shelf in these gorgeous bikini versions! Preorders open today.
A-TRIP -- Anri Okita
Restocked Photobooks We've got tons of hot photobooks back in stock for you today, including A-Trip with Anri Okita, an extremely healthy, beautiful Japanese female.
Dengeki G's Festival Comic vol. 16
If you like a stylish behind the way we do you'll love the hug pillow extra that comes with this issue of Dengeki G's Festival Comic. It's another super popular issue, so now's your chance!
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Ignis 1/6 Cast off Figure  Jingaimakyou **Preorder**
Ignis, Tamaki Kousaka Cast Off Figures *Preorder* The beautiful Ignis from Jingai Makyou returns in castoff figure form, along with Tamaki Kousaka from To Heart 2. Preorder today!
Kyoko Kaneda 1/7 Cast off Figure
Gorgeous 'Cast Off' Figures In Stock, Too From the popular manga Hishoka Drop, comes the ultra lusty character Kyoko Kaneda in her "cast off" business suit. Also enjoy the Uncho Kanu suntan figure!
Love Body Aki Costume  Original Uniform
Love Body Aki Costume, Ren Restocked Fresh stock of the popular Love Body Ren doll with matching onahole, plus a new costume for Love Body Aki to wear. Amazing...
Risa Kasumi Bistro Great Pussy Hole
Realistic Onahole Toys for Stress Relief When realism is what you seek, check out the meiki hole based on Risa Kasumi's real body, or the Snow Moon Flower sisters.
Demonbane *preorder*
One of the most epic eroge ever is coming in English, the Cthulhu-mythos title Demonbane. A massive game that faithfully adds to world created by H.P. Lovecraft, the translation is beautiful and the game is great. The limited edition comes with an artbook!
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