Friday, July 08, 2011

Plugging English Words into Japanese Sentences

The Japanese make heavy use of foreign loan words, usually borrowed from English, but since Japanese grammar differs from other languages, something is needed to "bridge" the two...and conveniently, there are two such grammatical aids built right into Japanese. The first is the particle na which allows an adjective to be plugged into a Japanese sentence without breaking any grammatical rules, and you can hear phrases like surimu na onna (a slim, slender woman), hansamu na otoko (a handsome man), and torendii na dorama (the latest trendy drama on television). I've even heard the word "epoch-making" used in this fashion -- as in, epokkumeekingu na ibento, referring to an event that is truly Earth-shattering in nature. The other tool to help foreign words be used in Japanese is the catch-all verb suru which means "to do." Words you might hear in Japanese include getto suru (GET-toh suru, to get or find something), doraibu suru (doh-RAH-ee-bu suru, to go for a drive), kamingu auto suru (kah-min-GU ah-OO-toh suru, lit. to do "coming out" or to come out of the closet about something), and of course, sekkusu suru (to have, well, you know). The staff at J-List uses lots of English in their Japanese, too, and you can hear terms like sukyan suru (to scan something) or pikku suru (to pick products in preparation for shipping) being used everyday.

Marisa goes for a drive.

Konkatsu: Marriage Activities for Otaku

It's well known that Japan's birthrate is among the lowest in the industrialized world, standing at just 1.29 per female. The reasons for this are many, including social phenomenon such as "parasite women" (daughters who live with their parents all their lives, spending all their money on having fun and never getting serious about marriage or relationships) and "herbivore men" (men who are less ambitious about life and who don't care about sex).
Another problem is the difficulty of actually finding someone you're compatible with to marry, which is why Japanese cities have been trying to promote konkatsu, or "Marriage Activities," a catch-all term for helping people find that someone special. The newest trend is ota-konkatsu, or marriage activities for otakus who want to find someone who shares their love of 2D anime and games, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Last weekend there was a special event held at the Washinomiya Shrine -- the "Holy Land" seen in the Lucky Star anime -- in which 20 male and female otakus got together at an event to try to bring couples together.
There's no word on how many successfully hit it off.

"Marriage Activities" for otakus is a great idea.

Happy Tanabata 2011

The Fourth of July is a great summer "festival" in the U.S., a day to celebrate America's birthday, eat hot dogs and enjoy some fireworks. While there is a national foundation day in Japan -- Feb. 11, commemorating the crowning of the first Japanese Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C. -- the Japanese aren't much for showing patriotism, as it's associated with the nationalism of the country's past. Instead, they'll ring in the summer with Tanabata, the Festival of the Weaver, on July 7. Based on a famous Chinese tale about the stars Altair and Vega (named Prince Hikoboshi and Princess Orihime in the Japanese version of the tale) who were separated by the "River of Heaven" (the Milky Way), and who can only see each other once a year on this day. Tanabata is a great time to stroll through the streets of your local town and take in all the colorful decorations, hear performances of taiko drums, drink beer and eat yakisoba noodles, and help carry an omikoshi (a "portable shrine") around the town. Quite different from the Fourth of July, but at least there are usually fireworks.

Tanabata is a fun day in Japan.

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Cool Products Thursday, July 7, 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.
NyanType Aug. 2011
NyanType, like Megami Magazine, showers you with awesome omake (free stuff). Tons of posters, an artbook, manga and more. We don't know how they fit so many awesome posters inside this magazine, but we like it.
View products »
Dengeki G's Magazine Aug. 2011
Dengeki G's Magazine Aug. 2011 The always popular, always fun Dengeki G's Magazine is here. In this August issue there are lots of articles to enjoy and cool free stuff. Check it out.
Figure King NO. 160
Figure King NO. 160 Are you a figure geek or a figure king? This magazine takes a look at all the top up-and-coming models and figures from Japan.
Macross the First vol. 3
Macross the First vol. 3 Do you remember love ? Fall in love all over again with the timeless classic Macross (Robotech) remade for the modern audience.
Snow Miku Nendoroid Snow Play ver. **Preorder**
Snow Miku Nendoroid Snow Play ver. Happy news for summer: the Snow Miku Nendoroid, which celebrates Japan's most beloved idol. We could use some snow right now.
Fruits Aug 2011 NO 169
Fruits Aug 2011 NO 169 Don't trust the high-production fashion magazines that just try to push products? This is THE true street fashion magazine of Japan.
White School Swimsuits  Skirt Type (XXXL Size)
Amazing Cosplay Products We're loaded to the gills with awesome cosplay products, from the kawaii to the ero. Why not browse the site now?
Evangelion Seele Black Wallet
Evangelion Seele Black Wallet The next time you whip out your wallet, your friends will wonder if you are part of some shadow-government organization thanks to these cool wallets.
Evangelion  Logos Stainless Water Bottle **Preorder**
Evangelion & Logos Stainless Water Bottle Or if you like, enjoy a cold drink of NERV-approved water or other beverage with the Evangelion stainless steel water bottle.
Fiber Slipper  PURPLE
Take your home chores to a whole new level by sweeping the floor effortlessly thanks to these great new slippers. Your floors will always be shiny with these awesome "micro fiber" slippers on.
View products »
Totoro Plush *Smile* -- Small
Restocked Totoro, Jiji the Cat Toys We love Totoro around here, and we've restocked several popular Totoro plush items today. Also, Jiji the Cat pillows, because they are awesome.
iTunes Japan Music Card
iTunes Japan Prepaid Cards It's fun to browse the iTunes Japan store and see what the newest JPOP songs are. I've also been known to browse the top anime songs as well.
Hello Kitty Shiny Notebook  White  Pink
Hello Kitty Shiny Notebook ~ White & Pink Take Hello Kitty wherever you go, now to school too with these cute Hello Kitty notebooks. College ruled sheet so even grown-up kids can enjoy them.
Hello Kitty DX Ice Cube Tray
Hello Kitty Ice Cube Tray Or perhaps you'd prefer kawaii Hello Kitty ice cubes this summer? If so then you're in luck, as we've restocked these popular items.
Kanji DS Dictionary
Study Japanese with your Nintendo DS See some of our most popular Nintendo DS Japanese study tools restocked. It's fun to study nihongo with the DS!
Simple Brown B5 Notebook  6mm ruled 30sheets
Restocked Japanese Notebooks Fans of Japanese stationery will enjoy the simple, functional appeal of the Japanese notebooks we're restocking today. Elegant and awesome.
Ash Tray Can  Smoking Time
Ash Tray Can ~ Smoking Time This easy to clean and use ashcan keeps your burnt cigarettes out of sight. And as the tin says, please always "Be Careful To Over Smoking!!"
Gray Striped JINBEI / Summer  Relax Wear Set   L size
Summer JINBEI ~ Now In Size 'L' Our popular striped summer Jinbei is available in size "L," suitable for our slightly larger customers. Get them before they're all gone!
FritoLay BBQ Corn Snack
Many fun new Japanese snacks posted to the site for you, including FritoLay BBQ Cheetos that could only come from Japan, plus Salted Vanilla PUCCA snacks, new Morinaga Hi-Chew and more.
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Oreo Soft Cookies New Package!!
Amazing Restocked J-Snacks Enjoy Oreo Soft Cookies from Japan, Kameda Black Curry Senbei rice crackers, Felix the Cat Gum, Country Ma'am cookies, Astro Boy gum and tons more.
House Morning Rescue
Morning Rescue is Restocked On the J-List site, see fresh stock of the popular Japanese drink Morning Rescue, beloved of Madoka Magika fans and anyone with a hangover.
Brown Bear Chilled 2-tier Bento Box w/ Elastic Band
Take your bento everywhere and never worry about it going bad, even in this summer heat, thanks to these chilled bento boxes. As usual, our bento boxes are kawaii and fun to eat out of, and this well made bento box is no exception.
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OURAN  Red Sakura Bento Box With Chopsticks  Elastic Band
OURAN ~ Sakura Bento Box With Chopsticks (red or black) We carry a lot of complete bento sets, which come with everything you need including chopsticks. See these traditional bento boxes today.
Miso Soup Cup with Lid
We Love Miso Soup We have a wide variety of miso soups and bowls just waiting for you to try! Taste the authentic flavor of Japanese cuisine in beautiful kitchenware.
Japanese T-Shirt - 'Underground Person'
J-List T-Shirts for Summer J-List has been on a roll, making great T-shirts for anime fans and anyone who wants to wear a kanji message on their shirt. Click to browse.
Will Line Marker Set (6 Colors)
Amazing Japanese Pens There's no shortage of amazing pens from Japan, and J-List carries dozens of the most awesome ones. Click to see our most popular items.
Deluxe Kyoto Tea Gift Set  Umekobucha  Mini Spoon  Crane  Konpeito
Tea Time is a Fine Time When you have tea that is as good as the high quality items we have, you will be saying the same thing. Also, lots of essential accessories too.
New Real KAITEN SUSHI Origami
Awesome Origami from Japan Great traditional folding paper art from Japan. Sushi shaped, Mameshiba, traditional good luck charms and more in stock, some with instructions in English.
Hayate Yagami 1/4 Figure  Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS **Preorder**
Kawaii Bishoujo Figures for Preorder Posted for preorder: the sexy Android 0-gou, plus Vivio and Hayate Yagami for Nanoha fans -- they are all very lovely.
Sci-Fi Revoltech No.030 Optimus Prime **Preorder**
Revoltech Mega Robot Preorders From the new Optmus Prime Revoltech to the epic Muv-Luv Alternative, you will love the new sci-fi robot toys we're posting today.
Seven Dream -- Nana Ogura photobook (3000 limited)
Nanao Ogura, one of the most beautiful JAV models from the past couple years, has a new photobook with deliciously wonderful ero photography. Note that J-List cannot be held responsible for any nosebleeds you should develop while viewing this item.
View products »
ROAE  Black / Dark Silver
ROAE ~ Black / Dark Silver These new stylish and sexy adult toy products look so good that you could display them as modern art.
DEUX  Black / Plum -- Zini Vibrator
DEUX ~ Black / Plum ~ Zini Vibrator Or, take play to the next level with this special adult toy that separates to be shared with your partner, male and female alike.
Bakujiri Musou -- Extreme Impact  Samurai Girls Parody Toy
Extreme Impact ~ Samurai Girls Parody Toy Fresh stock of the innovative deluxe onahole products, from the Samurai Girls Parody Double Hole to Love Body Ren and (619) 839-3745more.
Pururun Angel Bust 2
Pururun Angel Bust 2, Risa Kasumi's Onahole Then, sometimes a person needs to squeeze something soft and warm, and we've restocked our most popular oppai products!
nitroplus artbook
Nitroplus Artbooks For "H" art fans, see fresh stock of the most awesome artbooks we've Nitroplus of course. Highly recommended.
Kinshin Souai  Haha ni Koi Shita Boku
Kinshin Souai ~ Haha ni Koi Shita Boku At what point is motherly love beyond the point of no return? Take on the role of Masaru who is stuck between a hot mother and hot friends.
Lightning Warrior Raidy II: Temple of Desire *Preorder*
Lightning Warrior Raidy One game all H-Gamer fans should be familiar with is the Rady series, first person yuri dungeon crawling games with great combat and ecchi action.
Yukkuri Panic: Escalation *Preorder*
Yukkuri Panic Escalation in Stock Speaking of yuri, we've turned on download purchases for our popular all-female game, so you can now buy it on CD-ROM or convenient download!
Magical Magic Cosplayer   Madoka Magica Parody ***DVD  Blu-ray Special Package***
Magical Magic Cosplayers ~ Madoka Magica Parody These girls take to the roles of your favorite Madoka Magica characters in this sexy parody on Blu-ray and DVD. If you need me I'll be in my bunk...
Semen Bukkake Special ***3 Titles  150 MIN***
Bukkake Special **3 Titles** Three beautiful women are subjected to bukkake and perform many other forms of semen related submissive actions.
Love Love Living Together Diary -- Riko Yamaguchi  Former AKB48 Member Rina Nakanishi
Living Together Diary ~ Riko Yamaguchi Former AKB48 idol start turned AV queen, Riko Yamaguchi, brings us a new production from SOD featuring Riko as your loving girlfriend. We like this idea!
Forbidden Ladies School
Forbidden Ladies School These girls were put in an all-women's school to keep them from getting in trouble with boys. Now they are getting in trouble with girls.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Learning Japanese Right...with Hiragana and Kanji

At J-List, we like to support our readers who want to learn Japanese, whether it's tackling the basics for a better understanding of what makes the language tick or trying to go far beyond that. One bit of advice I throw out often is, try to avoid textbooks or other study aids that write Japanese in romaji, that is, in the Roman alphabet, rather than hiragana, katakana and kanji characters. Learning to read Japanese properly will help your pronunciation -- I can tell if someone learned Japanese properly starting with hiragana or via a Romanized Japanese textbook by the way they pronounce words like ichi man ("10,000"), with the former using the proper pronunciation of mahn (with a long vowel) and the latter like the English word "man" (short vowel). The meanings carried by kanji is also something you just can't reduce to the Roman alphabet. In words like shoshinsha (beginner), shobosha (a fire truck) and Shueisha (the publisher of Shonen Jump), the sha character at the end has the same pronunciation, and might seem to be related somehow. But when you study kanji, you see the first sha is "person" (also read mono), the second sha is any kind of vehicle (also read kuruma), and the third is "company."

Free Stuff from J-List?

Remember, we love to send you cool free stuff when you order from our site, like our signature J-List tissue (sent completely without irony, trust us), or the new J-List Anime Glasses that we debuted at Anime Expo. Now you can turn into your favorite anime character any time! Included randomly with orders shipping from Japan and San Diego.

The Summer of 2011

The Summer of 2011 has begun in ernest, and it's definitely going to be a dicey one for Japan. The areas served by TEPCO -- everything from Tokyo to the northernmost point of the main island of Honshu -- face a huge shortfall in electric power due to the deactivated nuclear plants, and everyone is required to cut their electrical use 15% compared with last year. J-List is doing our part by switching to an early summer schedule, with staff members coming in an hour and a half early so we can get our work done before it gets too hot and humid out, but running a company dependent on computers makes it hard to cut much more. Companies are doing things like setting vending machines to power off for the peak times of the day and scheduling work shifts for cooler hours, though it seems to me if they closed a few dozen of those flashy pachinko parlors around J-List they could save a lot more power. If the cuts aren't enough, TEPCO will be forced to return to the rolling blackouts that were such a hardship in the weeks after the quake -- we certainly hope that can be avoided.

It's a hot and worrysome summer in Japan.