Friday, March 11, 2011

The Great Sendai Earthquake

We interrupt this J-List update to bring you...a giant Earthquake! The 8.9 magnitude quake that hit around Sendai shook the J-List office 400 km to the south, and has made for a rather harrying day, as you can probably imagine. I've lived in Japan for nearly two decades and have generally been calm when it comes to having the ground shake moderately 1-2 times a week -- it's alarming at first, but you come to accept it, and the fact that Japanese construction standards are among the best in the world helps a lot psychologically. This was different: the ground started moving from side to side and cabinets started rattling, and it didn't stop for several minutes -- you should have seen my Star Wars figures dance as they fell to the bottom their cabinet. A long cement block wall outside J-List rose and fell like it was built on geletin. Overall, actual damage was light (one bottle of sake crashed to the floor at the liquor shop we run), and all J-List staff and their families are safe, but it was not something we want to live through again.
Japan is at its best during times of crisis like this. Exceptional construction standards coupled with well-developed emergency procedures really help people to know what to do during crises, and everyone in our neighborhood knows the specified evacuation center they should go to if they're separated from family (for us it's a park with a gymnasium nearby). Japanese are naturally good at organizing, and I'm sure they'll be able to rebound quickly, though we're very worried for people right now. The quake was a moment of glory for the Internet and also for Twitter, as information was passed freely and accurately a the speed of IP packets...even faster than the seismic waves themselves. The same can't be said of the traditional telephone and cell networks, which were completely useless in the aftermath of the quake, as everyone tried to contact loved ones but no one got through. The first thing I'm doing tonight is making Twitter accounts for my kids and wife so we can contact each other in an event like this.
We now return to the regularly scheduled J-List update (which was written and ready to go out before the quake hit).

Japan experienced a terrible earthquake today.

New Social Trend in Japan: Bento Dads

Japan's masukomi -- what the news media is called here, from "mass communications" -- loves attaching labels to budding social trends, and it can be fun to see how these unfold over time. The media loves to follow the so-called "herbivorification" of Japan's current generation of males, pointing out how they're less ambitious than the previous generation, less interested in pursuing females or purchasing an expensive automobile. In recent years there's been an upswing in men who take a more active interest in the care and education of their children, a phenomenon dubbed ikumen ("education men"), a pun on the word ikemen (lit. "men with handsome faces"). In a related development, an increasing number of fathers are taking an interest in making bento for their children, ensuring that they eat healthy meals and using it as a communication tool between father and kids. The trend has been dubbed "Bento Papa" by the media -- which is slightly odd because that's the name of Pope Benedict XVI in Portuguese, but I digress. If you're interested in learning more about bento culture, we've got a few products for you to browse.

"Bento Dads" are taking an interest in making bento.

Figma and Revoltech Figures at J-List

If you love anime figures, you should take a good look at the amazing offerings from Figma and Revoltech we carry, which are incredibly faithful and life-like recreations of your favorite anime figures, but with many points of articulation so you can make fun poses with them. Best of all the figures are really affordably priced, and fun to pose and play with. Browse the most popular Revoltech and Figma toys now!

Cool Products Friday, March 11, 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.
Dragon Age April 2011
Check out the latest issue of Dragon Age, packed with all the manga you love and coming with great special extras. Highschool of the Dead, Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka, Akuma de Idol, Triage X, Full Metal Panic Sigma, Otaku no Musume-san and much more!
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B's Log Mar 2011
B's Log Mar 2011 The latest issue of the magazine with all scoops on BL and Otome games is here! It's a bishounen bonanza with all the news and features you crave.
Figure King NO. 157
Figure King NO. 157 Get the latest issue of Figure King, the magazine that focuses on mecha and hobby figures. This issue features the newest Macross F movie!
egg April 2011
egg April 2011 It's egg, the magazine for all fans of the "gal" style and other glitzy, glamorous fashions of Tokyo. Get all the latest tips and fads here!
Moe Cafe Maid Costume Set
Moe Cafe Maid Costume Set Irrashaimase! Turn the heads of dozens of men with this Moe Maid 3 piece costume by Joybank.
Japanese T-Shirt - Property of Highschool of the Dead Grey)
Did you ever wish that your high school life was less dull, had more zombies or more beautiful girls to romance while you fended off the apocalypse? You're not alone! Show your school spirit with the school of hard (zombie) knocks in this great new parody t-shirt, the athletic "Property of Highschool of the Dead" in grey and black.
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Hello Kitty 70's Style Pencil Pouch
Hello Kitty 70's Style Pencil Pouch  Enjoy Kitty-chan as she was in the 70's with this fun soft vinyl pencil pouch, which will hold all your stuff. Kawaii!
Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Triangle Pole Eraser
Pocket Monsters Notebook, Erasers Since everyone is so excited about the new Pokemon games, we added some products to the site, including a "free notebook" and a cool Pikachu eraser.
Monster Hunter Tissue Box Cover  Airu  Puggy
Monster Hunter Tissue Box Cover, One Piece products The super cute Monster Hunter mascots are here on a plush tissue box cover, and we've restocked the One Piece watches too!
Big Beer Strap
Awesome Phone Straps, More We never could resist a frosty one, and the restocked Big Beer Phone Strap is great for anyone who agrees. Also: rice bowl and sushi straps!
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan Light Blue  size 5L
Restocked 'Shimapan' Striped Pantsu We've got our striped pantsu back in stock as well today, great for fans of Mio from K-On! And Lucini from Strike Witches.
Koenji  Tokyo Shin Jyoshi Machi
Koenji ~ Tokyo Memory Photobook Enjoy this classic retrospective on one of the most beloved "everyday place" neighborhoods of Tokyo. Get a real feel for Japan's urban history!
Moe Moe Angel (Side White) Encyclopedia  Tenshi Jiten
Moe Moe Encyclopedia, More Restocked Enjoy the Heaven's Lost Property manga, plus Moe Moe Angel and Swords, plus the popular moe book about the traditional "48" positions.
Alien USB Toy *Preorder*
Alien Revoltech, USB Toy Restocked The cult classic Alien movies come alive through epic Revoltech action figures from Kaiyodo, and these great USB toys that light up and move.
Morinaga Hi-Chew Happy Peach
Enjoy new Super Butter Pretz, Hi-Chew in "Ha-Peach" (that's "happy peach"), plus Lotte's popular Coffee and "Sweetie" (grapefruit) gum! You will love trying these new products today.
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Myoujo Ippei-Chan Tonkotsu Ramen
Myoujo Ippei-Chan Tonkotsu Ramen Famous ramen flavors from Japan are a J-List specialty, and we're happy to add this new traditional Japanese recipe to the list!
Fanta Japanese White Grape
Fanta Japanese White Grape A wacky new soda flavor for you, Japanese white grapes come to the Fanta label! The bottle is cool because it's like giant grapes.
Peko-chan Milky Candy
Restocked Snacks Then score Black Sesame Caramel, Astro Boy Posca Gum, Ramune Puccho, Peko-chan Milky Candy, awesome Glico Pretz Ham & Cheese plus Marshmallow Chocolate!
Cherry Boy (Yamagata Limited)  Japanese Food Drops
Restocked Traditional Japanese Food Drops Today's restocked flavors include cute Mameshiba (Grape), authentic sake drops, Chocolate banana Crepe from Harajuku plus the wacky "Cherry Boy" flavor.
Kokeshi Bento -- Maiko 2 Tier Bento Box  Miso Soup Bowl
These Kawaii Kokeshi bentos are sure to brighten up your day! New Maiko and Samurai versions available.
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Rilakkuma Brown 2-Tier Bento Box
J-List [hearts] Pokemon Also: the legendary Pokeball Bento Box is restocked, too, plus the cute Pikachu onigiri makers. Yay!
Black KIKU  Flower Art Lacquered Large Size 2 Tier  Bento Box  Elastic Belt  Microwave / Dish Washer Safe
KIKU Flower Art Lacquered Bento, Chopsticks Next, a new lovely bento box for you, with a great traditional flower pattern and sleek lacquered design.
Fuwa Fuwa Push Style Sandwich Maker
Awesome Japanese Sandwich Makers Spice up your lunch with these cute sandwich cutters, (almost) any shape you can imagine!
FURO-TAN --- Bath Water Proof Study Flashcard Set
Waterproof Flash Cards, Memo Pad Japanese are nothing if not innovative when it comes to studying. See our waterproof flashcards and memo pads, which can be used in the bath!
Easy Delivery Charm  Anzan Omamori
Easy Delivery Charm ~ Anzan Omamori Having a baby this year? This special Omamori charm sends plenty of good vibes to your loved one for a quick and safe delivery.
Fundoshi -- White  Traditional Men's Underwear
Wacky Traditional Products: Fundoshi, Hachimaki Fundoshi (pronounced foon-DOH-shi) is the traditional underwear worn by the samurai, and in modern Japanese shrines. Back in stock today!
White Lucky Cat Tea Cup
Lucky Cat Tea Cups, More Lucky Cat tea cups are an awesome item which can be turned over and used as normal cups or displayed. Also, see our Ninja Swing Doll toys restocked.
Oreimo iPhone 4 Case ver.2 Kuro Neko  Kirino -- Ore no Imoto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai  **Preorder**
Oreimo iPhone Case, Angel Beats Mug Cups Got an iPhone 4? Love Oreimo? Why not combine the two with this cover case featuring Kuroneko and Kirino.
Kota Hirano Ribbon Car Magnet  HIGHSHOOL OF THE DEAD **Preorder**
HIGHSHOOL OF THE DEAD Car Magnets *Preorder* We've got 3 awesome Soft Magnets featuring characters from Highschool of the Dead (HOTD) up for preorder too!
Going Merry Coin Bank -- One Piece Character Bank Pirates Ship Series **Preorder**
Going Merry Coin Bank *Preorder* A great way to motivate yourself to save money is through coin banks and this one from One Piece is sure to keep your treasure safe from
Pendulum -- Mariko Shinoda 1st photobook
Pendulum ~ Mariko Shinoda 1st photobook Mariko Shinoda steps away from her AKB48 family for a short time with her first hardcover photobook completely focused on her in bikinis. WOW!
nuye -- Kagami Visual Works
nuye ~ Kagami Visual Works The first gorgeous artbook from ecchi illustrator Kagami is back in stock! Tons of great hardcore art from Taimanin Asagi and Kangoku Senkan.
Fera Zoma
Also: Fera Zoma, Personal Massagers That mouth-shaped love hole is back in stock for you to enjoy, plus Air Doll Eri Himekawa. For the ladies, two of our best massagers from Japan.
Guru Guru Denma
Guru Guru Denma There's something extra sexy about a well designed vibrator from Japan that can be recharged by USB. The new Guru Guru denma is amazing!
Hinata Terrace  We don't abandon you.
Hinata Terrace ~ We don't abandon you The latest game from Giga is a sweet tale of co-habiting romance in an Academy dorm. Sound familiar? There's a twist! See inside.
Summer Days  UMD PSP Game
Summer Days ~ UMD PSP Game Play Summer Days, the sequel and "what if" side story to School Days, on your PSP! Requires Japanese or region-2 modded PSP to play.
Sexy Beach ZERO
More Import Eroge Restocked, Too Enjoy the epic Tears to Tiara by Key, Pastel Chima Continue, Princess Hunting Dungeon Meister, plus the all-3D Sexy Beach ZERO.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Weird Online Japanese

Japan's online culture has really taken off over the past decade, and it's fun to dip into some of the 2ch BBS sites or random Twitter feeds and see what the Japanese are talking about. Although I've studied the language for many years, it's quite a challenge to pick up what people are saying because of the thick net-speak everyone uses, from warped Japanese words like warosu (LOL) and it's past tense warota ("I LOLed") to gugure ("look it up on Google, fool!") and so on. Japanese net users are notoriously lazy, and many slang words they use are expressed in the Roman alphabet to mak them easier to type, like "www" (which is short for warau, meaning to laugh, hence it corresponds to "hahaha"), GJ ("good job"), "ry" (an abbreviation for ryaku, itself meaning "abbreviation"), nau (the English word "now"), ktkr (short for kita kore roughly meaning "yes, it's here, I've been waiting for this!") and so on. Just as popular U.S.-based BBS 4chan has its /b/tards, 2ch has an elite group known as the VIPPERS, who love to think of even more strange net lingo. We especially love the boom in ASCII art-derived characters from Japan's 2ch boards, and today we've posted some fun ASCII character keychains, stickers and other items.

The Japanese are the most creative people on the planet. Weird, but creative.

Japanese Morning "Wide" Shows

You've been in Japan too long when, while watching the morning "wide show" on TV, you wonder if the phrase "wide show" is proper English or not. A wide show is the Japanese (I think) term for the morning variety shows that feature tidbits of news and other information for people to watch while they have their breakfast and morning coffee. Gossip is always fun to listen to, and Dave Spector -- probably the most famous Japanese-speaking American "talent" on TV here, who we all hate because he dyes his black hair blonde and speaks better Japanese than us -- updates everyone on the latest from Hollywood. The Japanese are quite into astrology (both its conventional Western form and several types of Chinese-derived astrology), and these morning shows often rattle off people's horoscope quickly. Next comes the weather report, followed by today's "pollen" forecast, warning hayfever-prone people the best time of day to stay indoors if they want to avoid having itchy eyes and a runny nose all day. Unfortunatey several members of the J-List staff are getting hit with hayfever this week...

Dave Spector is the gaijin we love to hate, because his Japanese is better than ours.

Mio from K-On! Through the Ages

Here's a little observation I've made: when something gets "too" popular, it will peak then rapidly lose popularity for a number of years proportional to how trendy it was, but within 12-15 years this negative stigma will wear off making a comeback possible. When I first arrived in Japan in 1991, the country was in the middle of a "white car boom," when it seemed that every car on the street was white, except Ferraris, which were red. After a few years of this people got sick of white, suddenly choosing cars of every possible color and hue, although by now enough time has passed that white is acceptable again. The same thing happened with the oversized blocky glasses my wife used to wear back when we were dating: they become hilariously out-of-fashion, though they're starting to come back now.
This rule of "popularity bubbles" may apply to anime as well. I like to find random images for my Twitter followers, and when I posted this graphic by a Japanese artist that showed what K-On! might have looked like if it had been animated in the 90s, 80s, 70s and 60s, the reaction I got was interesting. Most people liked the signature facial shading and unique eyes of the 80s version of Mio, the curvy simplicity of the 70s version and the old-school Astro Boy-era 60s design, but everyone detested the Saber Marionette-esque 90s picture. Is this because 90s anime designs are currently at the low point in their post-"popularity bubble" crash? Will we someday look at the current generation of moe anime and consider it terribly dated, before rediscovering it a few years later? Some interesting questions worth pondering...

Mio from K-On!, as she might look if the show had been created in past eras. Which is your favorite?

Japan Chocolate Update

Right now, J-List is loaded with excellent chocolate items from J-List, including Pocky (all flavors), epic flavors of Japan Kit Kat (Green Tea is the current best-seller), plus great Evangelion anime-themed chocolate and more. Sadly, we always remove chocolate items around the month of May to avoid it from melting, then we bring it back in October or so. To avoid the agony of not being able to get the Japanese chocolate you need this year, why not make an order now? Click here to see the best-selling Japanese chocolates!

Cool Products Wednesday, March 9, 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.
Young Ace April 2011
Another sweet issue of Young Ace heads your way this month, with Rei and Asuka cell phone straps drawn by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and of course tons of great manga like Top wo Nerae, Isuca, and Eva/Haruhi spinoffs galore.
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Rainbow Spectrum: colors  artworks of Kiyotaka Haimura
Rainbow Spectrum: Artwork of Kiyotaka Haimura  The gorgeous and dreamy art of Index and Railgun novel cover artist (and Yume Miru Kusuri!) Haimura Kiyotaka is here in all its 192 page splendor.
Wonder JAPAN 1 Winter 2005
Wonder JAPAN Haikyo Photobook An amazing photographic look at the abandoned urban archaeological landscape of Japan, with rare looks at how nature reclaims civilization.
ASCII Art Sticker B
ASCII Art from 2Ch comes to your door, literally, with these new ASCII Art characters. Straps, stickers and a mouse pad are available! KIITTAAAA!
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Gothic  Lolita Bible 39 Spring 2011
Gothic & Lolita Bible 39 Spring 2011 Check out the latest spring fashions in this issue's Gothic and Lolita Bible, always a pleasure to have in stock on J-List.
Girlie Border Knee High Socks
Japanese Fashion Items Enjoy fresh stock of the Gothic Lolita armcovers, plus Girlie Knee High Socks and more of our signature shimapan striped panties.
K-ON! After School Live!! ***Preorder***
Restocked PSP Games The amazing K-On!! rhythm game for PSP is restocked, along with both Miku Hatsune pantsu simulators, the OreImo game and Clannad.
Anime Picture Book (ehon)  My Neighbor Totoro
We Love Totoro See some fun restocked Totoro products, including those delightful Totoro and Ponyo picture books, plush toys and more. Totoro is our best friend.
Hello Kitty High School Leather Bag
Hello Kitty Replica School Bags Enjoy fresh stock of our awesome Hello Kitty school bags: a great replica leather bag all the high school girls are carrying, plus bento bags!
Hello Kitty USB e-Kairo
Awesome USB Products from Japan J-List always has wacky and fun USB products from Japan, including the Hello Kitty and Star Wars USB hand warmers -- you'll be toasty for hours.
R2-D2 Pepper Mill --
R2-D2 Pepper Mill, Darth Vader USB Hub Would you like fresh ground pepper on that salad, from an R2-D2 pepper mill from Japan? How about a Darth Vader USB hub?
Namco Classic Games Pac-Mac Card Case Table Type *Preorder*
Keep It Real Even in the Business World It's hard to get more nerdy than this: a business card holder that shows the classic Pac Man on the top.
Chirimen Classic String Telephone  ITO-DENWA
Chirimen Classic String Telephone ~ ITO-DENWA  Moshi moshi? Is anyone there? Relive the simple days when using a can telephone was all you needed to have tons of fun. A cool Japanese version.
Japanese Bamboo Ear Pick - Mimikaki
Traditional Japanese Ear Cleaners You haven't lived until you've had your ears cleaned by a Japanese bamboo mimikaki. See the restocked items today.
Meiji Pokepachi Grape Flavor
Popping Pokemon Candy, Other Snacks Enjoy fun new snacks from japan, incl. Poke-Pachi Pokemon pop rock candy, Horn Chocolate Cookies, plus awesome Calpis Peach Gummy Candy.
Nestle Gokaku (Pass the Test) Kit Kat and Mug Cup Set
Kit Kat Special Study Set See fresh stock of the awesome Kit Kat bar w/ limited edition coffee cup and Nescafe instant coffee. Intended for students, but anyone will love it.
Deluxe Kyoto  Ume  Kobu Tea  Japanese Plum  Seaweed Tea Powder
Deluxe Kyoto Ume & Kobu Tea Tea Powder Here's a delicious ume (Japanese plum) tea mix that comes from Kyoto. Comes in a nice decorative package that's great for gift giving too!
Meiji Porte Chocolate Snack -- Tiramisu
Restocked Snacks Enjoy Meiji Sushi Gummy and Himo Q (a long gummy string), Muscat Juice Gummy, Caplico chocolate ice cream cone, Porte chocolates in Tira Misu flavor, and more.
Don-Don Panda Bento Products - Bento Box and Chopstick Set
Hakoya introduces us to this new panda character to satisfy our needs for all things cute . Here's a donburi bento box and a pair of chopsticks with matching case for you.
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DX Simple Men's Genuine Lacquered 2 Tier Bento  Microwave Safe
Restocked Bento Boxes, Too See the DX Simple Men's Lacquered Bento that's stylish and large enough for men to use, plus the Shiny Sakura Round bento, which we love.
Chopper Man 4 Piece Stacking Bento Box
Chopper Man 4 Piece Stacking Bento Box The cute mascot from One Piece, Chopper Man, quadruples himself by appearing on this four piece bento box set!
HIRAGANA Study Bento Cup  48pcs
Study Hiragana with...Bento? One of our favorite bento accessories, little paper cups that teach you hiragana as you eat!
Electric Takoyaki Maker
Takoyaki Items Restocked We love takoyaki, the batter balls that contain a bit of octopus meat inside. Today we have restocked the electric takoyaki cooker!
Complete Japanese  Nihongo So-Matome N3  Kanji
Japanese Textbooks, Bilingual Books Restocked The popular Complete Japanese textbooks are restocked, plus bilingual books like 100 Recipes from Japanese Cooking, Ghostly Japan and Buddhism.
Basic Lucky Cat Display  Black
Lucky Cat, Other Traditional Items Awesome restocked omamori good luck charms plus great Lucky Cat items to bring good luck to your home or business. Yes we Nyan!
Konata Izumi 1/4 Figure PE Costume ver.  Lucky Star *Preorder*
Amazing Konata Izumi 1/4 Cast Off Figure See several outstanding Lucky Star figures that are being issued again. They're amazing because the girls have real cloth uniforms and are, er, "cast off."
Final Fantasy VII Advent Children iPhone 4 Case Cloud ver. **Preorder**
Final Fantasy VII iPhone 4 *Preorder* Final Fantasy VII Advent Children returns with these awesome covers for the iPhone 4 - Sephiroth and Cloud versions are available.
Ika Musume Trading Figure Full Set of 8 **Preorder**
Ika Musume Trading Figure Full Set*Preorder* These new Ika Musume (squid girl) trading figures by Movic are terrific! This is a full set of eight different figures all packed together!
Miku Hatsune Figma Action Figure **Preorder**
Miku Hatsune Figma Action Figure *Preorder* Figma does it again with this splendid rendition of the popular Vocaloid Miku Hatsune, in this Append version by Max Factory. It will be popular!
Zettai Shojo -- Tsukasa Aoi
Gorgeous Restocked Photobooks Also, enjoy the awesome Tsukasa Aoi's Zettai Shojo (Absolute Girl), Gekkan Megumi Kagurazaka, Emi Kobayashi's Inner Forest and more.
School Days Visual Guide Book
It's full School Days action with the comprehensive visual guide to the original game! Check out all the official promotional art plus full character guides and high quality stills from the game, as well as guides to reach each end successfully. Awesome art and character data!
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G-Best  G-Taste Best Sellection
Restocked Artbooks Enjoy the epic art of Hiroki Yagami's G-Taste Best Selection, plus the popular joso work, Boys Like Maid Uniforms?
The Devil on G-string  G-senjou no Maou
The Devil on G-string The dramatic mystery visual novel event is here! Discover the "devil's" true identity in a web of sex, romance and intrigue in The Devil on G-string.
Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo  Doki Doki Full Throttle!
Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo ~ Eroge for PSP?! Experience the gorgeous art of Happoubi Jin in the Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo eroge and its sequel, both out as UMD games for the PSP!
Hitomi - My Stepsister
Hitomi - My Stepsister A great game for imouto fans in English, available on CD-ROM or convenient Internet download. There's no way my stepsister can be this hot!
II Pod Amazing Musical Massager
II Pod Amazing Musical Massager This Amazing massager by ToysHeart of Japan, utilizes the funky rhythms and beats of your music to generate vibration that "TRULY" let you feel the music.
Piti Piti 21  Pichi Pichi
Piti Piti 21 ~ Pichi Pichi A revolutionary new sensation in the world of stress relief toys from the wonderful folks at ToysHeart, made of an ultra-soft material you'll love.
Love Body Aki
Other Love Goods for Men Restocked Enjoy the popular inflatable Love Body Aki doll and matching onahole, plus clothes to dress the doll in -- wow. Also, the Angelica Super Elf Hole.