Saturday, May 14, 2011

Japan's "Salarymen" and Super Cool Biz

The word "salaryman" is a wasei-eigo (lit. "made-in-Japan English") term referring to a salaried male employee of a company. The word came into use in the Taisho Period (1912-1926) to describe the new professional class of company employees doing jobs we'd think of today as white collar, and in the postwar years these salarymen were responsible for Japan's economic miracle. The trademark of the salaryman is his conservative dark suit, called a sebiro in Japanese, which probably came from London's Saville Row region where the most famous men's clothiers were located at the time. But wearing suits in the summer is hot and uncomfortable, so every year the Japanese government begins a policy called "cool biz" to encourage government employees to dress casually so the air conditioning can be reduced. This year they're going a step further, introducing "super cool biz" which will allow employees to wear T-shirts, aloha shirts and jeans while they work, as Japan prepares for a difficult summer.

Japan's slarymen, they make for very entertaining train rides.

Nicknames and the Japanese

I have a friend named Josh, and I call him "Josh," but if we were Japanese I'd probably have some silly nickname for him like Josuke, Jo-chin or Pokopen. An interesting facet of human relationships in Japan is the usage of nicknames, and in any close circle of friends it's normal for everyone to have a unique name (called adana in Japanese) that comes to define the relationships in the group. My son's been running with the same circle of friends for years, and each of them has one of these special nicknames -- one boy accidentally misread "Georgia" (as in Georgia Coffee, Coca-Cola's popular brand of canned coffee) as "Giro-gia," and sure enough that became his nickname for all eternity. In the anime Hanasaku Iroha, nicknames people call each other by become a central theme as the main character Ohana grows closer to Minko and Nako (aka Minchi and Nakochi), who work with her at her grandmother's inn.
Do they do this in your country? At home my nickname is P-chan, a name I inherited from a cat we used to own, not the pig from Ranma 1/2.

Nicknames are an important part of relationships in Japan.

The Magical Country of Otakustan, where Dreams Come True

Recently I talked about how the members of the wider online community of people fascinated with Japan and its popular culture could be thought of as a nation in its own right, perhaps called the Hyper-Democratic Online Republic of Otakustan. It's quite a nice place, too: people share similar values, cherishing art and doujin (fan-made) culture and not having too much use for lawyers, and the closest thing to religious wars are online discussions comparing old school mecha anime and moe. This ultra-connected world is also a place where dreams come true -- just ask Beckii Cruel, the British teen who posted her dance videos to YouTube and caught the eye of Japanese fans, and the next thing she knows she has a record contract (iTunes link) and a new line of Learn-English-with-Beckii books w/DVD. Then there's ClariS, two junior high school students who go by the names Clara and Alice who posted covers of anime songs to video sharing site Nico Douga. They were discovered and signed by Sony Music, and their new singles have been featured as the OP (opening themes) to the hit anime series My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute and Madoka Magika. What an awesome world to be a part of!
(Sometimes it's even possible for a person to have "professional anime watcher" as their job title, like me.)

Ppopular anime song duo ClariS. Makers of Filemaker Pro™.

Cool Products Saturday, May 13, 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.
Animage May 2011
Check out the latest issue of Animage, the perfect-bound anime magazine with the most sleek presentation around. You'll get full color glossy images from all your favorite new shows, plus omake (extra) posters, a Durarara pencil board, and Inazuma Eleven fanbook.
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Dragon Age May 2011
Dragon Age May 2011 The magazine with all the sexy manga based on the stories and anime you love! From Full Metal Panic to Highschool of the Dead, and more.
BOMB May 2011
BOMB May 2011 Next, the magazine that brings the world of Japanese idols into the palm of your hand, with masses of epic photos, articles, and interviews.
Zaku II Cup Holder  Mobile Suit Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam Cup Holders Show your Gundam pride with this epic Zaku-head cupholder you can use in your car to securely keep your beverage in place!
Airu Long Cushion  Monster Hunter **Preorder**
Monster Hunter Plush Toys Monster Hunter is all the rage again in Japan, and the cute Airu mascots have made their way out of the game and into your arms as these cuddly plushes.
Hakuouki  Yuugiroku DS
Hakuouki ~ Yuugiroku DS The popular otome game (girl surrounded by bishounen) Hakuouki is now on the Nintendo DS! Great story and lots of fun minigames too.
Ninokuni: The Jet-Black Mage  Nintendo DS
Restocked Japanese DS Anime Games The fabulous Ninokuni game is restocked for the Nintendo DS -- just look at all the stuff it comes with! Also enjoy the Kimi ni Todoke game, which we love.
My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute 3  Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai 3 (Blu-ray Disc)
My Little Sister Blu-ray Can't Be Restocked But of course it is, and we have it right here for you! A great presentation with super extras and of course the best audio/video quality.
K-ON!! Kakurakou Memorial Album  TV Animation Official Guide Book
Restocked Anime Artbooks See fresh stock of some fun anime artbooks, including the K-On! official TV series guide, which we love a lot.
Japanese School Bag  Sports Type
Japanese School Bags Restocked If you watch a little anime, you'll probably see these "sports style" school bags being carried by the K-On! girls and all your favorite anime characters.
Sexy Ribbon One Piece  Black
Sexy Ribbon One Piece ~ Black We've got cool Japanese fashion for you here just in time for summer! Check out this chic one piece dress that we think looks great.
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan PINK  size 5L
Shimapan ~ Striped Panties Restocked The holy grail of anime cosplay are shimapan, worn by the cutest anime girls. Today we've got pink ones in, for fans of Kagami and Kirino and all the others.
My Neighbor Totoro Set -- Chu + Sho  Totoro Doll Collection
Totoro Doll Collections Restocked J-List [hearts] Totoro, and we've always got great Totoro stuff in stock for you. See the super-cute Totoro Doll Collection toys restocked!
Totoro Wooden Music Box
Huge Restocking of Totoro Products Also see the Totoro Wooden Music Box and more plush toys and the only Totoro and Laputa playing cards my family will use.
Kawaii Onigiri Kitchen Sponge
Kawaii Things for your Kitchen From the adorable onigiri and banana sponges that make washing up fun, we've got all the handy kitchen helpers you need!
Hello Kitty Die Casting Glasses Stand  Megane Stand
Hello Kitty Products Restocked One item that makes us feel happy is the Hello Kitty Glasses Stand, which "wears" your glasses for you. Other items restocked too!
UHA Seishun Shigekix -- Cola
Enjoy the lush fizzy savoring deliciousness of the candy that reminds you of your youth, UHA Seishun Shigekix! Also, Green Tea Chocolate Chip Cookies from Country Ma'am (I love that name for some reason), plus corn-based snacks that are delicious.
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Japanese Barley Tea - Mugi Cha - Summer Drink Ocha
Japanese Barley Tea - Mugi Cha Another great way to make summer special is by drinking mugi cha, the barley tea that all Japanese love to drink. Very healthy! Makes 32 liters of cold tea.
Peko-chan Milky Candy
Many Restocked Snacks Today Enjoy new stock of Peko-chan Milky Candy, Calbee Pizza Potato, Sanko Niigata Jikomi rice crackers, Glico Pretz, and much more.
Gold Metal Mode Slim Bento Box Set   2 tier  Elastic Band  Chopsticks
A gorgeous new bento box with a burnished gold metal finish, this slim two-tier box looks great and packs enough for a healthy meal. The "Metal Mode" line of modern and svelte bento boxes does it again! Awesome for both guys and girls to use.
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Hello Kitty Face Bento Box
Hello Kitty Bento Boxes If you're more in the mood for a kawaii character box, check out this great Kitty-face box from Sanrio that will perk up your day.
Hello Kitty Vegetable Cutter Set for DECO bento
Hello Kitty Bento Accessories, Too Why stop at the bento box when there's a whole world of Kitty accessories to explore! From molds and shapers to cooking tools and more.
Colorful Sakura Genuine Lacquered Chopsticks Set
Beautiful Japanese Chopsticks Restocked Eat well and be eco-friendly with these beautiful lacquered chopsticks that you can wash and use again and again, with traditional Japanese styles.
Takoyaki Set in the BOX
Takoyaki Set in the BOX Restocked A box that has just about everything you need to make your own delicious takoyaki from scratch, we were able to get it back in stock!
CAMPUS B5 Paper Fitting Note book
CAMPUS B5 Paper Fitting Note book  Looking for the writing solution that thousands of Japanese students turn to daily? Check out our Campus line of notebooks, perfect ruled.
Mild Liner  New Smokey Color Highlight Marker Set of 3 Colors
Interesting Japanese Pens Highlighters, pens with handy post-it notes attached, gel-grip comfort pens, beetle-tip 3-way marker and more!
Pink Lucky Cat Tea Cup
Lucky Cat Tea Cups, Tea Pot Increase your fortune by at least 9,000 with the addition of these adorable Lucky Cat (manekineko) tea pot and cups!
Japanese Green Tea  40 Tea Bags for Hot  Cold
Japanese Green Tea Restocked, Too We've got the perfect tea to go with it, several varieties of delicious Japanese Green Tea that will leave you feeling refreshed and alive.
'Oreimo' Yunomi Type.A  Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai **Preorder**
'Oreimo' Yunomi Green Tea Cups *Preorder* Drinking tea with my little sister can't be this soothing! A lovely Japanese-style teacup perfect for any drink, hot or cold, with Kirino & co. featured.
IS (Infinite Stratos) iPhone4 Cover -- Lyngin **Preorder**
IS (Infinite Stratos) iPhone4 Cover *Preorder* If you're a fan of the popular moe anime Infinite Stratos, we've got some cool iPhone cases we'd like to tempt you with. Which character will you pick?
IS (Infinite Stratos) Canned Bread Milk Flavor -- Cecilia **Preorder**
IS (Infinite Stratos) Canned Bread *Preorder* Or if you're more an "anime bread in a can" type person, we've also posted Infinite Stratos bread that's moe-tastic.
Kuroko Shirai 1/8 Figure  Toaru Majyutsu no Index II **Preorder**
Kuroko and Mikoto/Younger Sister *Preorder* Check out these gorgeous new figures of the heroines from Index / A Certain Scientific Railgun, with accessories and now available for preorder!
Liliana 1/8 Cast off Figure Excellent Model CORE  Queen's Blade Rebellion **Preorder**
More Gorgeous Figures Today Enjoy a delightful Liliana figure from Queen's Blade Rebellion that's "cast off," plus the enigmatic Maya Kumashiro from Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen. Kawaii!

Pet's Eye
Restocked Photobooks Restocked awesome photobooks too, incl. Pet's Eye (girls seen from the POV of small pets, heh) plus J-List's most popular cute girl photobooks.
DX Massager 'DENMA'
DX Massager 'DENMA' If you've watched a few JAV titles, you've probably seen, designed to bring maximum stimulation to certain parts. Restocked today.
A Certain Magical Index Parody Toy
A Certain Magical & Scientific Parody Toys Also: we have finally restocked the Index/Railgun parody toys, which are so popular that it took a month for them to come in. Enjoy!
BAND GAL!! -- Anzu  K-On! Parody Toy
BAND GAL! ~ K-On! Parody Stress Toys We've restocked several onahole stress toys too, including K-On's Azunyan, the Sexy Twins deluxe toy, Zhang Xiao Yu's body pillow and more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interesting Business Ideas from Japan

Japan is a unique place, and the economic forces that cause this kind of business or that to spring up can be interesting -- if I weren't so busy with J-List, I might consider trying to import some of the business ideas I see here to other countries. While some businesses that flourish in Japan are probably not right for the U.S. or Europe -- for example, hole-in-the-wall restaurants called tachi-gui soba, lit. "stand-and-eat noodles," where everyone leans against tables while they eat since there's no room to sit down -- there are other ideas for business that may have more potential. Like the daiko ("replacement driver") service, essentially a taxi with an extra driver who will follow behind in your car so you have it to use in the morning. Japan is so good at making awesome vending machines, I'm sure someone could find a way to to bring over some to the U.S. somehow. Another interesting idea for a business is Leo Palace, essentially a chain of inexpensive studio apartments that are made in a "cookie cutter" construction model, with all units having the same layout. I'm sure that college students would jump at the chance to rent a cheap single-room apartment with loft rather than do the roommate thing, though maybe I've just lived in Japan too long.
Of course one attraction of the Leo Palace system is, the ability to rent an apartment without paying six months of rent up front as shikikin and reikin, deposit and "thanks money" to the landlord, which doesn't apply in the U.S. Still, a franchise apartment system built efficiently might have potential. What do you think?

The daiko taxi system is a gerat way to go drinking without endangering others.

The Metabo Syndrome, and Fat Japanese

Although you probably don't think of the Japanese as overweight, the problem is expanding waistlines is affecting people here, too. Trying to take on a problem in a proactive way, the Japanese government issued specific health guidelines for men and women a couple of years ago, which was somehow misreported as "Japan outlaws fat people" by the international press -- insert sumo-related joke here. In reality, it's an optional health consultation service made available to people judged to be metabo (short for "metabolic syndrome") when they get their annual health check-up. This happened to me during my last check-up, and when the nurse asked if I'd agree to the optional consulting meeting about my metabo problem, I said yes, mainly for the lulz but also because I knew I'd want to blog about it here. I had my meeting with the lady, and she was very nice, bringing various information packets to me and going over the results of my check-up to see if she could offer any advice. Judging from the lady's initial reaction at seeing me, I'm pretty sure I was the first foreigner who had ever opted into the metabo program.
I sometimes have to laugh at the scales they use of course. A "fat" person using the Japanese scale is an adult who doesn't have to shop at Gap Kids when buying clothes in the U.S., or something like that.

Many Japanese are battling the metabo demon.

What If an American Anime Blogger in Japan Watched 'Moshidora'?

It's interesting, the subtle things you can pick up from anime, which go beyond the story you're watching. I recently finished the odd-but-refreshing Moshidora, aka Moshi Koko Yakyu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no 'Management' o Yondara?, or "What if a Female High School Baseball Manager Read Drucker's 'Management'?" It details one girl's desire to help her high school baseball team by using techniques picked up from Peter Drucker's famous book on management, bringing innovative ideas to the field. Through the show we get to experience the intensity of high school baseball in Japan, and the strong desire for the players to go to the National Championships at Koshien Stadium, near Osaka. Koshien is a very big deal, the focus of virtually every baseball manga or anime ever made, and millions of men relive their youths by following the games closely. There was a scene where players who were in their third year of high school were especially impatient, because they'd be graduating soon. "This is the last chance for us. If we don't go to Koshien this time, we never will!" These unique cultural aspects of life in Japan would be impossible for us to access without the medium of animation.
What unexpected things have you learned from anime?

You can learn a surprising amount of culture from anime.

Yukkuri Panic: Escalation, a new "eroge" for yuri fans

J-List works hard to bring great English-translated dating-sims, eroge and other unique titles from Japan for you to play, and today we've got a new title we're announcing: Yukkuri Panic: Escalation. It's cool because it's an all-yuri game, which our customers request quite a lot, but it's also cool because it's two games in one. You get a great multi-scenario visual novel to explore, plus a great arcade-style "Gal's Panic" game. The game will be golden Master soon! Click to see the product page (J-List side only), or visit the Yukkuri Panic: Escalation official site.

Cool Products Wednesday, May 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.
Newtype June 2011
The latest issue of Newtype is here, the 'moving pictures magazine' with all the authoritative and exclusive articles on anime you could hope for. This month's extras are an extra-large Fate/Zero poster, a great Nichijou keychain set, and more!
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D-Arts Mega Man X Action Figure **Preorder**
D-Arts Mega Man In Stock Whether you're a fan of power suited action game heroes or giant robots we've got what you're looking for in today's toy preorders!
Index 1/10 Figure  To Aru Majyutsu no Index
Other Anime Figures In Stock In stock now, a cute figure of Index from A Certain Magical Index, plus that epic KOS-MOS Figma. Nice!
Asuka Langrey Figure Flash a Smile ver.1.5
Speaking of which, check out these lovely new Eva figures of Rei and Asuka lounging in attractive poses in their plug suits from the new Evangelion movies. A great deal for the Eva fans!
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egg June 2011
egg June 2011 The brand new issue of Egg magazine is here, the one that brings all the kogal (gyaru) fashion to your fingertips in vibrant color.
Socks Glue
Authentic 'Socks Glue' From Japan We love selling wacky things like "socks glue" which hold up high over-knee socks, and we'll continue this tradition in the future.
Gakken Otona no Kagaku Special Living Science  Science Projects for Adult -- Theremin Premium
Gakken Otona no Kagaku Restocked We love to promote awareness of the awesomeness of science, and we carry the full line of Otona no Kagaku kits. Theremin restocked today.
Rilakkuma Soft iPhone 4 Cover -- Face (CS83301)
Rilakkuma Soft iPhone 4 Covers are Kawaii! Looking for something cute to spruce up your iPhone? Check out these soft, durable cases that will warm your heart and keep your phone safe.
Asaki Yume Mishi
Asaki Yume Mishi A dreamy new otome game (game with a female protagonist and passionate male suitors) for the first time now on PSP! Supernatural romance.
PIECES 4  HELL HOUND 01 -- Masamune Shirow **preorder**
Shirow Masamune, Too If you're more interested in dangerous curves, check out the full collection of artbooks from Masamune Shirow we have in stock! (See on the J-List site)
Kiki's Delivery Service Cushion Chocolate Cake
Kawaii Jiji the Cat Products Got some great Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service today, including the Fluffy Lap Blanket, Nap Pillow, and that giant cushion that looks like a chocolate cake.
Handmade Sweets Fragrant Eraser Kit  Candy
Make Your Own...Erasers? The Japanese are nothing if not creative. They even make their own awesome erasers. Several of these sets restocked today.
Meiji Xylish Gum -- Mint Soda
Today's New Snacks & Gum Meiji Xylish Mint Soda gum, Sanko Cheese Premium Rice Crackers, Vanilla Ice Lotte Rich Toppo, and many more snacks are now available!
Tyrol Chocolate -- Tiramis Flavor
Restocked Chocolate, Other Fun Snacks We're almost out of cool weather in which to ship chocolate, so be sure to place an order if you'd like some before fall!
Kokeshi Bento -- ICHIRO 2 Tier Bento Box  Miso Soup Bowl
Check out this adorable bento set in the shape of a traditional kokeshi doll, with an upturned bowl forming the head and a cute face on the side, with a kimono pattern second compartment below. A ridiculously cute bento box that's part of our Samurai Bento Series!
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Lunch-de-DON Bowl (DONBURI) Type Bento Box
Lunch-de-DON Bowl Type Bento Box Also, we love it when a bento box is innovatively designed, and that certainly applies to the Lunch-de-DON rice bowl-style bento boxes.
PITTARI  Panda Sandwich Case
Nobody Makes Cute Sandwiches Like Japan There's no sandwich like a Japanese sandwich, and we've restocked our kawaii sandwich makers which "seal" the insides for you.
Microwave Potato Chip Maker
Microwave Potato Chip Maker? Then: Why buy store-bought potato chips when you can make your own at home, using this wacky microwave potato chip maker from Japan? Restocked today.
Range de Doughnut  Microwave Doughnut Maker
Other Fun Microwave Items Also: more wacky microwave fun from Japan, including a microwave doughnut and microwave egg cooker.
iTunes Japan Music Card
JPOP & Anime Songs from iTunes Japan See the 25th anniversary of that Chibi Maruko song, and...R&B style Ghibli songs? Compatible w/all iTunes, iPhone and iPad.
KITSUNE MASK  Traditional Fox Mask
Kitsune 'Fox' Mask Restocked Enjoy a really cool selection of traditional products from Japan, including the Kitsune (fox) mask from Higurashi, made in Japan!
SHODO  Natural Stone Mini Calligraphy Set with Wooden Box
Other Traditional Items Practice your kanji the traditional way with elegant calligraphic brushstrokes and traditional sumi ink that you grind into the stone holder.
Minami Kawashima Nendoroid Figure  'Moshidora' **Preorder**
Minami Kawashima Nendoroid ~ *Preorder* A timely figure release indeed, this is Minami from Moshidora, the hardworking manager of the boy's baseball team who uses 'Management' to win.
Edward Elric Action Figure Real Action Heroes No.542 **Preorder**
Fullmetal Alchemist Figures *Preorder* Fans of the popular Fullmetal Alchemist series will love these figures, the brothers Edward and Alphonse. Great detailing on both!
Witch Girl 1/7 Figure -- Questioners Original Figure **Preorder**
Witch Girl 1/7 Figure ~ *Preorder* Also: a sweet figure from a Korean artist and a Japanese sculptor, we like this hot witch very much!
Schoolgirl Complex 2  After School
Schoolgirl Complex 2 ~ After School A delightful photobook capturing the spirit and grace of youth/ A beautiful item for fans of Japan's idol culture and those awesome uniforms.
Kaitai Jingai Makyo Concept Works
Awesome Artbooks Restocked The popular Jingai Makyou artbook from Nitroplus is restocked, and it's a gorgeous one. Also, the Irenka Kagami Visual Works Collection.
Air Doll Rio Hamasaki
Rio Hamasaki is one of our favorite AV actresses from Japan not only because she has a beautiful 92 cm bust H cup (how fitting). No, we love the girl because she actually loves her work, and she brings a buoyancy to her performances that's always great to watch. A great 1:1 size inflatable doll with perfectly sized onahole.
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EROS 2.0 TYPE. 002
EROS 2.0 Evangelion Onahole: Asuka, Rei, Mari We've restocked those Eros 2.0 Evangelion parody holes, which recreate the bodies of Rei, Asuka and Mari inside the device. Truly works of art...
SOD Mobile Denma  Black
Mobile Denma Vibrators Small personal massagers that really get the job done, brought to you by SOD and restocked today. Also: the classic Hello Kitty vibrator. Why not?
Yukkuri Panic: Escalation *Preorder*
A great new product announcement from JAST USA and Peach Princess, an English-translated eroge combination that fans of yuri will especially love. Inspired by the classic Cream Lemon H-anime series, this is a game that combines a traditional visual novel with a great Gal's Panic/Qix style "uncover the image" game dynamic. Preorder now!
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Beat Blades Haruka  Choukou Sennin Haruka
Restocked H-Games from Japan Enjoy restocked import H-games, including Beat Blades Haruka, Flyable Heart, ToHeart 2 XRated, Pastel Chime Continue plus Sharin no Kuni.
My Girlfriend is the President **Preorder**
My Girlfriend is the President Preorder In addition to the upcoming Demonbane, the epic eroge My Girlfriend is the President is coming soon -- we're nearing a release candidate now. Did you preorder your copy?