Friday, June 10, 2011

The Japanese and "Positive" English

One theme I write about often is the way Japanese have a positive, happy view of English. In part this is because Japanese first learn "English conversation" (which is actually speaking English in social situations, and is quite unrelated from the dreary reality of mucking through grammar and vocabulary for tests) from an overly energetic and happy foreign English teacher. Part of "Peter's Unified Theory of Japan" is that the reason JPOP and anime songs often throw random words and phrases like "my wishes over their airspace" "missing truth and forever...kissing love and true your heart" "get wild and tough" and "you got a body heat tonight" is that Japanese fans generally get a rush of positive emotions when they hear English words.
Positive English words are also used heavily in marketing, and there are many products sold with English names, like Cook-Do! (instant Chinese food), Farm-Do! (a farm supply retailer), I'll (a travel agency whose name makes customers imagine all the cool things they'll do), Creap ("creaming powder" for your coffee) and Fappy ("the fax machine that makes you happy" by Sharp). Just as the Swiss accidentally hit upon the name Swatch for their Swiss watches because the designers didn't speak enough English to know that the word sounded a bit on the dorky side, the Japanese have used creative English to their advantage, coming up with terms like Re-House (a company that remodels homes), "nice middy" (a happy, carefree term for a middle-aged woman, designed to make them feel good about their age so they'll travel more), and Toyota's popular small car Fun! Car! Go! Another word that pops up quite a bit if "will," a positive word that expresses one's intent for the future in unambiguous ways. There's a line of random products brought together under a general brand name called "WiLL" that expresses the Japanese respect for this word, including some pretty awesome pens
So the next time you encounter strange English from Japan, get chance and luck!

Japanese have a positive view of English.

Las Vegas Report

We've now hopped from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for some hardcore R&R and perhaps a little gambling. It's been quite a week so far, with me shepherding my three Japanese colleagues around, translating for them and explaining all the strange things we encounter together. They've had their share of culture shock, for example being surprised at the huge portions at IHOP ("I could feed my whole family with this omelette!"), and they were impressed enough with In-n-Out Burger to start talking about how we could get a licence to operating one in Tokyo. Naturally, there were some linguistic challenges. For example, when someone renders a service to them they know they're supposed to pay a "tip," which for linguistic reasons is pronounced "chip" in Japanese. (Basically, the word was imported back in the Meiji Era, before you could express the sound "ti" in written Japanese as you can in katakana today.) This takes on a strange context in a city where poker chips, also called "chip," are a potential currency, and I keep expecting them to try tipping someone with a poker chip (although it would probably be gladly accepted).

I'm in Las Vegas now, gambling up a storm.

Cool Products Thursday, June 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.
Dengeki G's Magazine July 2011
Next, check out the great new issue of Dengeki G's, the magazine for all your bishoujo needs. As usual you get cool free stuff, called omake in Japanese, and this month's special item is a "waterproof" poster which of course means you're supposed to use it in the bath.
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Hiragana Times June 2011 NO. 296
Hiragana Times June 2011 NO. 296 Learners of Japanese know how important is it to read as much as possible. A new issue of Hiragana Times is here to help.
Angel Beats Kanade Rice Bowl
Angel Beats Kanade Rice Bowl Rice, we love it. However this awesome Angel Beats rice bowl might be stealing our hearts.
Dancer Marryan 1/8 Figure  ToHeart2 Dungeon Traveler **Preorder**
Dancer Marryan 1/8 Figure ~ ToHeart2 Ah, we love the sexy girls from ToHeart2, and Marryan is one of our favorites, although she has a psycho side to her personality. In stock now.
Kirino Kousaka 1/8 Figure by Kotobukiya  Ore no Imoto ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai
Kirino Kousaka 1/8 Figure by Kotobukiya Next enjoy the best Kirino figure we've seen, restocked today -- but hurry as these figures are popular and don't last long.
ASCII Art Kaomoji Earphone  Shobon
Take your emotions to the next level with these Japan-tastic kaomoji earphones features Japanese ASCII character faces. What a wonderfully nerdy item from Japan -- plus they sound great. Which type will you buy?
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Itazura Cat Coin Bank -- Tiger Cat
Itazura Cat Coin Bank Restocked The most popular kawaii item on J-List these days is the Itazura Cat Coin Bank, with a cat who steals your money. K- Kawaii!
Totoro Wooden Music Box
Huge Restocking of Totoro Products Also see the Totoro Wooden Music Box plus Tree Totoros w/Ocarina Music Box, plush toys and more. We love Totoro!
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 31 ** Preorder **  Ornithopter, Entomopter set (Habataki Airplane Set)
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 31 Check out the amazing flying machine that you can build yourself, included with the next issue of the 'science magazine for adults'! Now in stock!
Handmade Sweets Fragrant Eraser Kit  Cookie
Handmade Sweets Fragrant Eraser Kit Make your study-time fun-time with these cool cookie erasers you make at home. A fun and easy DIY project for this summer.
Japanese Style Eye Patch for Anime Cosplay - Evangelion
Japanese Style Eye Patch for Anime Cosplay Whether you've had an actual eye injury (ouch!) or are looking for the perfect cosplay accessory, the Japanese eyepatches we restocked today are perfect.
Japanese School Bag  Sports Type
Japanese School Bags Restocked Also: see the actual, real bookbags used by your favorite characters, from K-On! to Evangelion and Haruhi. I love selling awesome items like this.
Queen's Gate Yagyu Jubei (Samurai Girls)
We Love Artbooks See some nice restocked artbooks, including the sexy Yagyu Jubei from Samurai Girls plus other Queen's Blade Queen's Gate goodness.
Mijumaru (Oshawott) Pokemon Best Wish Plush
Random Plush Toys Restocked Then see random cute plush toys restocked, like the Mijimaru (Oshawott) plush toy for Pokemon fans. How do you want to hug today?
Koikeya 'Karamucho' Red Chili Potato Chips
Koikeya 'Karamucho' Red Chili Potato Chips Recently spicy foods are becoming popular in Japan, and Karamucho is one of the best! It's so good but unlike anything you've ever had before.
Morinaga Milk Caramel Japanese Snack Candy Treats
Today's Restocked Snacks Enjoy the "official" milk caramels of the Totoro universe, plus Lotte "No Time" gum, Grape Mochi candy, plus a big restocking of popular instant ramen.
Felix Gum Box
Japanese Gum, Too The legendary Felix the Cat Bubblegum -- beloved of so many of our customers -- is restocked today on our popular Japanese Gum page.
Obento Character 200
Obento Character 200 Master the secret art the bento-chef. Color coordinating, material usage, seasonal flair, shaping methods...its like interior design for your lunch.
Mt. Fuji  Rabbits Lacquered 2 Tier Bento Box  Elastic Band  Microwave and Dishwasher Safe
Awesome Mt. Fuji & Rabbit Bento Boxes Enjoy some of the best traditional bento boxes restocked today, from Mt. Fuji to traditional rabbits and beyond. So nice!
HOT Deshuran Rice Cooker + Bento Box
HOT Deshuran Rice Cooker + Bento Box One of the handiest personal rice cookers we've seen, it's portable so you can cook overnight and then bring it with you to work, school or play!
Lovely DECO Bento Set  Baran  Furikake Stencil  Food Shaper
Cool 'Deco Bento' Accessories "Deco" is short for "decoration," and beautiful is what you'll make the bento meals you prepare with the cute decoben gear we have in stock.
Bear Silicon Reusable BARAN for Bento
Baran Food Separators for Bento Baran is the decorative separators that keep your rice from getting mixed up with the other parts of your bento lunch. See some great varieties restocked!
Vegetable Shaper Assortment Set  SAKURA, Plum, Maple Leaf, Chrysanthemum
Vegetable Shaper for Bento, More Our most popular vegetable shaper for bento is restocked, plus a fun way to make rolled temaki sushi, a great bowl for miso soup and more.
Japan Underground IV
More Awesome Photobooks incl. Japan Underground The amazing series of photobooks continues, showing you mind-bending pictures from the underbelly of Tokyo. I love these books.
CAMPUS Standard B5 Note book 50 Sheets
Cool Japanese Notebooks Restocked J-List is always here to help students of Japanese make their dreams of learning nihongo come true -- see Japanese study notebooks, and more.
Doraemon Bilingual Comic vol. 8
Bilingual Doraemon Manga, Kanji Drill Books See our most popular bilingual manga volumes plus great kanji drilll books to make sure you don't forget those kanji!
Lying Lucky Cat Display    MANPUKU  ' Full of Happiness'
Restocked Lucky Cat Products ~ Kawaii! See these traditional Japanese good luck charms restocked, incl. Lying Lucky Cat, Lucky Cat Display with Bell and Happy Message, and more.
Makoto Nanaya 1/7 Figure  BLAZBLUE **Preorder**
Enjoy some gun new products today, including the super sexy figure of Ibuki from Asu no Yoichi that we like a lot, Makoto Nanya from BLAZBLUE, plus the Toy's Works 2.6 Key Memorial Box, a dynamite item for fans of the best Key eroge and anime series.
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Lingerie The Best 12  Sports Bishojo Panty and Sport Wear set
Not only is this magazine packed with great high quality AV shots of the best idols around, you get free lingerie of a sportswear variety too! Imagine the fun you can have with this amazing "ero" magazine from Japan?
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ONA BEAT mini! vol. 1  K-On! Parody Toy
Fun K-On!, Haruhi Parody Stress Toys Whether you love Yui from K-On! or Haruhi Suzumiya, we've got fun anime-themed holes restocked today.
Love Body Ren
'Love Dolls' Restocked Love is a strange thing, and sometimes it is...inflatable. See fresh stock of some of our popular love doll products from Japan which will amaze you.
Tokimeki Plus -- Yuika  Love Plus Parody Toy
Love Plus fans will want to check out this new series of relaxation parody love holes, themed after the heroines you've come to know and love. Which beautiful girl will you choose -- Nene, Manaka or Rinko?
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STARLESS *Preorder*
Amazing Import Ero Games See the popular Starless (by the Bible Black artist!), Daiteitoku, BOIN Super Pack, Devil on G-String and Fortune Arterial, all restocked.
Demonbane *preorder*
Fantastic Eroge in English J-List works very hard to bring you outstanding and visual novels in English, like the popular new Demonbane, which is 100% uncensored.

Osananajimi to Dokyusei  Perfect Version -- MARUTA
Osananajimi to Dokyusei ~ Perfect Version ~ MARUTA The ecchi mind and design sense of eromanga star MARUTA presents this sexy "H" anime, uncut and for the first time all on one disc.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Languages and "Spider Mix"

I write a lot about language because I find it an interesting topic, and learning to speak Japanese has been a fascinating process for me. Languages always shift and change according to laws that are pretty well understood, for example hard consonants will soften over time, and words that are always next to each other will often sort of grow together into a single word, such as words like "tomorrow" or "breakfast," or even the more recent joining of "web log" into "blog." Another law that changes language is known as the Principle of Least Effort, which mainly says that speakers will exert the least effort needed to get their point across, quite visible in languages like Japanese where the subject is often omitted, and unwieldy words like "Starbucks" (sutaabakkusu in katakana) shortened to "sutaba." This "law of laziness" is also why the schwa sound (ə, pronounced "uh") is so common in American English -- apparently we're especially lazy when it comes to language. I'm pretty sure some linguistic change happens as each generation of children is born and acquires language, which leads to incredibly creative new words being formed. When my niece was three, she drank a powdered hot apple cider she decided was called "spider mix," and to this day I can't think hot cider without thinking of it with that name.

Mmm, delicious Spider Mix. Got to get me some of that.

The Humble Japanese, Revisited

One of the defining features of the Japanese as a people is that they are generally kenson (KEN-son), that is, humble and not boastful. If you've ever tried to compliment a Japanese person on something such as their English ability or how smart their kids are, you may have experienced a strong denial that can be confusing to Westerners. I was reminded of this during the San Diego Comicon a couple of years ago. While setting up our booth I happened to see a Japanese-looking girl with a badge that read Junko Mizuno. Being a complete idiot, I didn't realize it was the artist herself, and I actually said, "Oh, you have the same name as that famous artist, how interesting." The girl, who is so small-bodied she could have passed for a sixth grader, blushed red that anyone would think her famous, despite her many published works all around the world. One word the Japanese use when receiving some kind of compliment is okage-sama de (oh-KAG-geh sah-mah deh), a phrase which literally means "thanks to you," which is a little weird since the person doing the complimenting probably had nothing to do with the acquisition of the skill in question. Often when you say something nice to a Japanese person, they'll turn the kindness back onto you with this phrase.

The spooky but awesome works of Junko Mizuno.

In Los Angeles, at E3

I've made a quick hop from Japan to "Los" (as the Japanese call Los Angeles) to attend the popular E3 video game convention. I've enjoyed roaming the floor, oo-ing and ah-ing at all the awesome cool games that were announced, and playing with the new hardware from Sony and Nintendo was great, too. I've been traveling with three Japanese guys J-List does business with, and it's been an interesting journey for them as well. I've had to explain such complex linguistic concepts as "booth babes" to them (they have them at Japanese conventions, but they're called "companions" or "campaign girls").
Los Angeles is a special place to the Japanese. Like Hawaii and New York, it's an area they're often quite familiar with, and there's a sizable community of Japanese expats living in the Los Angeles area. While the "real" America might be mysterious and unnerving for the average Japanese person, Los Angeles is generally "terra cognita" for many Japanese, who know they can find familiar foods and services in Little Tokyo or Torrance or wherever, and are more relaxed there. The guys I'm traveling with had an extensive list of famous spots they wanted to hit, and we've been having a lot of fun playing tourist.

To most Japanese, Los Angeles is a special place, more familiar than most parts of the U.S.

Cool Products Wednesday, June 8, 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.
Megami Magazine July 2011
J-List stocks the best anime and moe magazines in Japan, including ones that give you lots of great free stuff to enjoy (called omake in Japanese, pronounced oh-mah-kay), like the 20+ posters in Megami, Nyantype and others. Click to see the most popular items right now.
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Young Ace June 2011
Manga Magazines, Too Also enjoy awesome manga magazines, with hundreds of pages of the best manga Japan has to offer. Click to browse our rather epic selection.
Dengeki Daioh Reserve subscription
Monthly Magazines Subscriptions The best way to get your favorite anime, manga and other magazines each month is using our revolving subscription service. Click to see the top items.
iTunes Japan Music Card
iTunes Japan Prepaid Cards There's nothing like browsing the iTunes Japan store for fun JPOP and anime songs, or downloading Japan-only apps to your iOS device.
Skull Long Sleeve Tops -- Black
Cool Fashions from Japan Remember, J-List has a huge selection of popular fashions from Japan for ladies, including items that are popular in Tokyo this season.
egg June 2011
Japanese Fashion Magazines We have a huge selection of fashion and cosplay magazines, too, and love offering them to our customers. Click to see our top sellers today.
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan PINK  size 5L
Fun Cosplay Products from Japan Do shimapan count as cosplay? We're not sure, but our customers love them. Click to see our most popular cosplay items.
DECO Packing Tape  Keep Out
Fun Japanese Stationery Items From interesting Japanese pens to awesome notebooks and beyond, we love finding unique items for J-List. How about some authentic "Keep Out" tape?
Hello KItty Sakura Pair Yunomi
A lot of people love Hello Kitty, and love finding unique products featuring their favorite feline character on J-List even more. We carry hundreds of products featuring "Kitty-chan" (as she's known in Japan), from the traditional to the just plain kawaii. Click to see our top sellers today.
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Rilakkuma Fan 2 - Starter Kit 2011 Spring
Kawaii Rilakkuma and Mameshiba Japan's #2 character would have to be Rilakkuma, and we've got tons of his cute products for you, along with Mameshima.
Totoro China Tea Cup Pair Set
We Love Totoro & Ghibli We have a huge place in our hearts for Totoro, and always carry the best Ghibli products from Japan. Click to see them now.
Japanese T-Shirt - Touhou Tribute
J-List's Amazing Original T-Shirts Ever since we brought out our "Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend" kanji T-shirt in 1998, people have loved our T-shirts. Click for the top sellers.
Pixiv Girls Collection 2011  Pixiv Official Art Collection
Gorgeous Anime Artbooks Japanese artists are the best in the world, and we always carry gorgeous artbooks from Japan's top artists, including the newest offerings from Pixiv.
Oreimo iPhone 4 Case ver.2
Moe Moe iPhone Cases Show your love for your favorite anime and characters with the wide selection of protective cases we have in stock for your iPhone 4!
XCALGO  Overhead Type Stereo Headphones
Other iPhone & Music Player Accessories We also have popular headphones and earphones from Japan's most famous makers, including cool anime offerings.
Japanese Disposable Vinyl Clear Umbrella
Awesome Japanese...Umbrellas? J-List carries the awesome generic clear umbrellas that are everywhere in Asia, plus Samurai Sword Umbrellas. Why not?
BUB  Healthy Sparkling Bath Tablet   HINOKI / Japanese Wood
Fun Items for your Bath What's more Japanese than a really excellent onsen bath? We have some great traditional bath items in stock now.
Lotte March of Koala -- Cheese Cake Flavor
We talk a lot about different ways to approach an understanding of Japan, from martial arts to popular culture and more. You can also approach an understanding of Japan through its snacks and candy, too, and J-List can help.
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Kompeito  Five Color Traditional Japanese Candy
Anime Related Snacks We sell a lot of anime-related snacks, too, which includes any food product you can see in an anime show. Would you like to try some today?
Hot Milk Moe Drop (Akihabara)  Japanese Food Drops
Awesome 'Food Drops' Candies Enjoy our amazing "Food Drops" candies, updated versions of the classic Sakuma Drops from Grave of the Firefly with great new tastes.
Sushi no ko
Sushi Related Items See fun sushi related products on the J-List page, including sushi no ko, the powder used to make vinagered sushi rice.
House Morning Rescue
Awesome Drinks from Japan The energy drink that grew to fame thanks to commercials during Madoka Magica is available at J-List! Click to see even more.
Hello KItty Sakura 2Tier Bento Box
The Best Bento Boxes from Japan Kawaii bento boxes are never far from J-List, and we've got a great lineup for you. Click to see our most popular items.
Deco Bento Furikake 5 Colors  Salmon Flavor
Bento & Kitchen Accessories Also see some great accessories and related items for bento as well as ways to make your kitchen more awesome and kawaii.
Genki I (Second Edition) Textbook  An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 Textbook
Popular Japanese Study Supplies Whether you want to learn just a little Japanese or go for level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, J-List is here for you.
Hiragana Times Reserve Subscription
Hiragana Times, Other Fun Items We also carry the popular bilingual magazine Hiragana Times, great for learning Japanese with timely articles in both languages.
Mini Magic Sakura Tree
The Most Popular Traditional Japanese Products Awesome traditional products from Japan are only a click away. Visiting J-List is like browsing a huge gift shop in Kyoto, without the airfare.
Yellow Lucky Hello Kitty Omamori Strap for Study
Popular Lucky Cat, Daruma Products Two famous symbols of Japan's traditional past, we carry many fun products for fans of both. Click to see them now.
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 26  Science Projects for Adult -- Mini Electric Guitar
'Otona no Kagaku' Science Kits We love the popular magazine + science kits from Gakken, and carry them all. What cool science project would you like to build today?
Sateraiza L Brigitte 1/4 Cast off Figure  Freezing **Preorder**
The Most Popular Preorder Products We stock many preorder products, which you can order for shipping when the items are released. Preorders are never charged until the item is in stock.
Lucky Girl -- Kanoh Momoka
Photobooks from Japan See the most gorgeous photobooks in Japan at J-List, with elegant photography and models who can only be described as angelic.
PIECES 6  HELL CAT -- Masamune Shirow ** preorder **
The Best Artbooks from Japan See the best naughty artbooks from Japan, too, including the drool-worthy Shirow Masamune, whose works our customers love (us, too).
Sonico Puni M Mouse Pad *Preorder*
Amazing '3D' Mouse Pads These mouse pads provide just the right amount of wrist support an otaku needs. Truly a revolution in ota-ergonomics.
Eleanor Mercer 1/7 Figure Royal Black ver.  Honey Blonde **Preorder**
Amazing 'Cast Off' Figures See the best "cast off" figures Japan has to offer, too, including super detailed figures ready to be gawked at hour hours.
The single most elegant male stress toy is the Tenga Flip Hole, which we've got in stock and ready to ship out to you. Not only is it incredibly well designed, it will provide years of comfort, too. Plus it looks like it belongs on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Highly recommended item!
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My Little Sister Can't Be This Tight
Our Favorite Parody Anime Toys You can always find fun anime parody onahole goods, too. I can't believe my stress toys are this interesting.
Nipplen for Love Body
Nipprun Stick on Nipples for Body Pillow Another fun and random product from Japan, this is great for anyone who loves dakimakura hug pillows, or just plain wacky stuff.
Beat Blades Haruka  Choukou Sennin Haruka
Popular Import Eroge from Japan We have some extremely popular Japanese import eroge titles and sell them to our many customers. Click to see the top sellers now.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica  Ha Ha CG Collection
Popular Doujinshi, Doujin Games We also carry popular doujinshi (fan-made ero comics) and doujin-soft (fan-made parody games using your favorite anime characters).
Lightning Warrior Raidy II: Temple of Desire *Preorder*
The Most Popular Dating-Sim Games in English We stock the most amazing selection of English-translated eroge in the world, with all titles uncensored and fully translated. Nice desu!
Yukkuri Panic: Escalation *Preorder*
Yukkuri Panic: Escalation Golden Master! Be sure and see our upcoming yuri game for eroge fans, featuring both a full ADV game and a fun arcade game, too. Preorder now!