Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Joy of Japanese Bread

For a country that eats as much rice as Japan, they have some pretty interesting kinds of bread, too. Introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century, pan has been made in Japan long enough for it to morph into some unique shapes, including a few that Westerners might have trouble identifying. The most basic type of bread, of course, is the normal sliced variety, which can be purchased in standard sized loaves cut into eight, six or four slices, depending on how thick you like your sandwiches to be (if you're thinking Japanese bread makes awesome French Toast, you're right). Many types of bread are sweet, so that we'd think of them more as doughnuts, such as anpan (a traditional round bread with sweet anko beans inside) or melon-pan (vaguely melon-shaped) bread beloved of a certain tsundere girl. Another unique Japanese bread is Curry Pan, is a ball-shaped piece of fried bread that contains spicy curry inside -- yummy. Whenever I'm passing through a train station and get hungry, I pick up yakisoba pan, essentially a long piece of bead with chow mein-style noodles stuffed inside, about as simple a snack as you can ask for.

Two my favorite kinds of pan: Melon Pan and shimapan.

The Challenge of Transliterating from Japanese to English

Transliteration is the act of transcribing words from one writing system to another, and it's a very complex and imprecise process. The problem is that there are different sets of rules you can use when going from one written language to another, and there's no absolutely "correct" way to do it, which is why there are 112 perfectly accurate ways to spell Muammar Gaddafi in English (really). Sometimes alternate spellings of foreign names pop up because of a change in politics -- as when China switched from the Wade-Giles romanization method to Pinyin, which is why Mao Tse-Tung suddenly changed to Mao Zedong -- and other times it's just fans being silly, like the Minmei-Minmay Spelling Wars that spanned 1980s anime fandom. When Madoka Magika came along, people wondered how to spell the name of everyone's least favorite magical girl-creating Incubator. Was it Kyubey, which has good balance, or possibly Kyubeh, which creates a pronunciation that's closer to the Japanese version, or Kyuubey, to represent the long first vowel? Or perhaps QB for brevity's sake, or Qbey, which appears once in the show? It can be quite difficult, but for our part we generally treat whatever Wikipedia ends up using as "official" (quick is Kyubey in this case). Incidentally if you like, or hate, Kyubey, we have a T-shirt you should see...

Ttransliterating written words is difficult.

Pretty Girls in the Men's Room

There are certain unique things about Japan. They have cars with names like Perky, Sunny and Mitsubishi Thanks Chariot. Taxi doors open automatically when you approach, and the cars are cleaner than hospital operating rooms. Also, it's not uncommon to find Japanese women cleaning men's rooms or men's public baths despite the presence of men there, a unique cultural oddity about Japan that certainly doesn't work in reverse. This happened to me last month while I was passing thorough Narita Airport: I went into the men's room to take care of the usual business and was surprised to see a female airport employee diligently cleaning the toilets, walls and floors while the male airport patrons tried their best to ignore her. She was far from an obasan (middle-aged woman), too, being in her mid 20s and rather attractive, and it made it rather hard to concentrate on what I'd gone in there to do.

Females clean the men's room with the men still there in Japan.

New Eroge Posted for Preorder!

We're very happy to announce that we're posting the super-mega-awesome English-translated visual novels for preorder on the J-List site now. First up is School Days, the legendary game that's fully animated, with dozens of yandere-icious paths for you to explore. Get your preorder in now and be one of the first to play it when it's released in 2012! Next we're posting the gorgeous horror eroge from Nitroplus, Saya no Uta ~ Song of Saya, which will be released with the visual novel Hanachirasu as a set. Both stories are written by Urobuchi Gen, who also created Madoka Magika, so you know they're amazing. So get your preorders in now!

Cool Products Thursday, July 14, 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.
Quarterly pixiv vol. 05
The 3 month wait is finally over. A new issue of Pixiv magazine is here, this time with a special Syuumai-kun fuzzy toy strap omake just for you. If you love art, then you need to know more about Pixiv.
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Dragon Age Aug 2011
Dragon Age Aug 2011 All your favorite manga this the great shonen magazine from Fujimi Shobo. Includes GOSICK, Otaku no Musume-san, Jinki Extend Relation, plus many more.
Kera June 2011
Kera June 2011 If you want to know all about the world of Japanese Goth-Loli & alternative fashion, then look no further. Kera is a great magazine, period.
Ribbon Top  Gray
Great Fashion From Japan This very kawaii new top looks great, with fun stars and cute ribbons. Also, check out our fashion items from Shibuya and Harajuku.
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan Mint  size M
Restocked Shimapan and Swimsuits The awesome striped panties seen in just about every anime from the past decade are back in stock, plus many other great cosplay items.
Aria the Scarlet Ammo Bullet. 1  (Blu-ray Disc)
Aria the Scarlet Ammo on Blu-ray Hidan no Aria is now on Blu-ray Disc, with many great bonus extras and features, every fan will want to have this on their wishlist.
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO  Premium Edition ***2 Blu-ray Discs  330 MIN*** (Blu-ray)
Space Battleship Yamato Restocked It's one of the most amazing films Japan has ever produced, an incredible live-action version of Yamato, and it's back in stock today.
Castle in the Sky Laputa (Blu-ray Disc)
Ghibli Blu-ray Restocked See the Blu-ray of Laputa, one of the best films ever made by Miyazaki-sensei, plus The Borrower Arrietty on Blu-ray. Full subtitles/dubbed tracks!
Totoro Cushion 45cm x 45cm Oak -- Green
Awesome Ghibli Items Restocked There's no room that can't be improved by adding a little more Totoro in it, and we've restocked our Totoro blankets, soft cushions and plush keychains.
Fate Testarossa  Plate  **Preorder**
Nanoha, Fate Testarossa Anime Plates Those plates bearing the faces of Nanoha and Fate from the popular Nanoha The MOVIE 1st are in stock, and they are moe-tastic.
Japanese T-Shirt -- Kyuubee Eyes
Awesome Anime T-Shirts J-List carries amazing anime T-shirts from Japan, and we've got some amazing ones for you. Click to browse our selection now.
Fuwarinka Rose Essence Soft Candy
J-List now gives you free J-List Points with every product you purchase from our website! Here's how it works: points will be added for every purchase, which can be used for a discount with your next order. Or save 5000 points or 12,000 points for a $10 or $25 credit upgrade! Plus we're giving 2x on anime figures, kitchen products, eroge and DVDs this month. More details here.
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Haruhi Shugi  Noiji Ito Illustrations *preorder*
Restocked Haruhi, Other Artbooks We love artbooks from Japan, which is why we carry dozens of them for you. The gorgeous Noizi Ito artbook is restocked, and others too.
Study English with Haruhi 2  The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya -- Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu de Eitango Ge
Study Japanese with Haruhi Or if you like you can study Japanese with Haruhi, with the bilingual study book we got in stock again today. I'd study with Haruhi any day...
Cat Ears Clips (Neko Mimi Clip)  Black
Cat Ears, Gothic Lolita Products Restocked See fresh stock of some of our nicest anime cosplay and fashion products from Japan, including our Gothic Lolita Cat Ears and other cool items.
Pretty Angel - Black and Purple Striped Socks (Stockings)
Black and Purple Striped Socks (Stockings) Also: we've restocked the sexy, silky striped stockings seem in Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Make sure you get some Socks Glue to go with them.
Green Silicon Cooking Chopsticks w/ Mini Spoon  Fork
Silicon Cooking Mini Spoon & Fork Chopsticks Sometimes you need a fork, a spoon, or chopsticks. We like these new products that combine all three -- a great idea!
Pink Frog Silicon Kitchen Mitten
Awesome Kitchen Items You'll love the awesome frog-shaped Kitchen Silicon Mittens for holding hot pots, and also the awesome Japanese Onigiri Shaper that makes perfect rice balls.
Lotte Rich Toppo -- Kyoto Matcha Parfait Flavor
First see DonTacos Doritos style chips in Wasabi & Mayonnaise, then the amazing Meiji Salted Lemon Gummy w/Collagen that helps keep you young, plus Lotte Rich Toppo in Kyoto Matcha Parfait...sounds wonderful.
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Fuwarinka Gum Rose Flavor New!
Awesome Gum from Japan We also carry great varieties of gum from Japan, like the Fuwarinka Rose Essence Gum, restocked today. Makes you smell nice from the inside.
Glico Pretz -- Honey Milk
Restocked Snacks, Too Glico Pretz, Wasa-Beef Potato Chips, Jugabee, Ramune Bottle Candy, Takoyaki Puffs, Edamame Chips, and more are back.
Family Size SAKURA Shaped Genuine Lacquered JUBAKO Bento Box  Rabbit  Motif
Stackable 'Jubako' Bento Boxes Restocked We love jubako stacking bento boxes, since you never know what the next level will hold. This deluxe bento box is great for summer picnics!
Niko Niko Punch 2 -- Face Bento Decoration
Great Bento Accessories Restocked From the most advanced egg shaper ever knownto man to Niko Biko nori punches for bento, we've got some great items.
Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan
Restocked Japan-Related Books Restocked books, including the popular handbook for living in Japan someday, plus many great Japanese study books (various kinds).
Caster 1/8 Figure  Fate/EXTRA **Preorder**
Caster 1/8 Figure ~ Fate/EXTRA *Preorder* A super character from the upcoming Fate/EXTRA, this is one woman who could have her way with us if she wanted to. Preorder up now.
Tamaki Mukousaka 1/6 Cast off Figure  ToHeart2 **Preorder**
Wonderful New Preorder Figures Tamaki Mukousaka form ToHeart2 is one of the most memorable bishoujo characters from the past decade, and this new figure is delightfully ecchi.
Mio Isurugi 1/7 Figure  Emu Emu **Preorder**
Mio Isurugi 1/7 Figure ~ Emu Emu *Preorder* Finally, Mio Isurugi from Emu Emu is looking good in this new figure, as she holds harisen giant fan and is about ready to strike us on the heads. Kawaii!
Lingerie the Best vol. 12
Lingerie the Best vol. 12 Those who have a thing for swimsuits will love this latest issue as we see all the beautiful girls on the beaches of Japan. Hot!
The Scene of oppai Onnanoko no iru Bust Kei
Newly Restocked Photobooks Many photobooks, including The Scene of Busts, which features Tokyo girls showing their oppai in public places, are back.
Ramune Lotion
Please, please don't mistake this fun, erotic lotion with the famous ramune drink -- it looks exactly the same, including the marble inside, yet the bottle holds slippery, slidey goodness that will your private time extra special.
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Stress Toys for Our Female Customers, Too We've restocked some popular massagers for our female customers, including the G.II Special G-Spot Vibrator, the classic Pink Rotar [sic] and more.
Moco No. 1
Moco No. 1 & 2 Then see the awesome Moco onahole toys that simulate the nerdy girlfriends we'd all like to date, plus Maria Ozawa and inflatable love dolls.
Song of Saya  Saya no Uta + Hanachirasu *Preorder*
Song of Saya ~ Saya no Uta + Hanachirasu *Preorder* Nitroplus and JAST USA present the official English release of Song of Saya, the dark visual novel from Madoka creator Urobuchi Gen. Hanachirasu too!
School Days HQ *Preorder*
School Days HQ *Preorder* The ultimate love triangle with the "nice boat" bad end is now up for preorder! Guide Makoto to happiness in our uncensored English SDHQ release.
Do Love Me Seriously!  Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai!
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! This hit eroge with a star-studded cast of over 60 voice actors is not only one of the best, it should be on your computer right now.
Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo -- Doki Doki Community Life with 3 Sisters  UMD PSP Game
Big Restocking of 'Naughty' PSP Eroge Titles Play eroge on your PSP with these UMD disc-based games -- portable ero in the palm of your hand! Some of our best titles restocked.
Yukkuri Panic: Escalation *Preorder*
The Best Yuri Eroge Ever Released If you love the drama that comes from girls who love other girls, we recommend Yukkuri Panic Escalation. It's two games in one, and both are awesome!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Eroge from Nitroplus

J-List has always worked hard to bring Japan's amazing visual novels out to fans in English, and we've got an outstanding lineup of great games for fans of every genre, on both shrinkwrapped CD-ROM as well as by convenient Internet Download editions. In May we finally released Demonbane, one of the most gorgeous games published by Nitroplus, and at Anime Expo we officially announced that many more titles will be coming over in 2011-2012. If you'd like a preview of the awesome titles we'll be bringing you, make a shrinkwrapped game order from San Diego and we'll send you our new printed catalog with one of three giant posters. You can also download a PDF copy of our game catalog if you're curious to read up on the new games. (We'll start getting the games posted for preorder soon, too.) As always follow JAST USA for up-to-date information on what's coming!

Nitroplus and JAST USA @ Anime Expo

One of the highlights of Anime Expo was having the president of famed game and anime creator Nitroplus come out to talk with his many fans. Nitroplus is one of the most talented companies creating visual novels, music and animation contents in Japan, and the company is responsible for some of the most incredible stories, from Madoka Magika and Steins;Gate to some of the most epic eroge ever created (many of which we'll be releasing in English, see below). It was especially awesome having him hold the English version of his company's Cthulhu mythos eroge Deus Machina Demonbane (official game website) up and recommend that everyone in the crowd get a copy, and he was overwhelmed at the response by the fans in the room. (If you haven't gotten your copy, we hope you'll consider doing so, while we still have the Deluxe Edition in stock.)
During his panel, he talked about how he got his start in the field of creating games and animation, and it tuned out that he got his break when the staff of the legendary Studio Nue -- which created the original Macross series -- found a doujinshi he'd drawn and asked him to come work for them. I was reminded of one of the reasons I advise people to learn Japanese textbooks and other study supplies that use kana and kanji only, rather than Romanized Japanese (i.e. written in the Roman alphabet). When I first read the name "Studio Nue" a quarter century ago (ack!) my brain applied the rules of English spelling to this Japanese word, assuming it was pronounced like "new." Mr. Kosaka used the correct Japanese pronunciation of "Nué" (nu-EH), something I'd have been able to pick up correctly if I'd seen it in actual Japanese.

Having the Nitroplus president at AX was way cool.

Of QR Codes and RSS Feeds and Anime Glasses

There are many fascinating new technologies that come along, and you never know which will take off. The QR ("quick response") codes -- those square digitized boxes that load website URLs when you take a picture of them with a QR compatible cell phone or smartphone -- got quite popular in Japan around 2002-2003, yet no one knew what the mysterious squares were outside Japan. Now QR codes are growing in popularity in the U.S., so much that we added them to the wacky J-List Anime Glasses you get for free when you order from our site. Another very useful technology is RSS ("Really Simple syndication"), a system that allows you to read articles from your favorite websites in a convenient reader like Google Reader or many apps for iPhone, Android and so on. (J-List's site has outstanding RSS support too, allow you to watch specific categories for new products, make RSS feeds using keywords, and so on -- click here to see the full list of RSS feeds available.) RSS is one technology I'd really love to see Japanese websites embrace. It's so much work to keep up with new offerings from our suppliers, visually checking for updates to their websites or (ulp) reading the faxes they send announcing new products coming for preorder, when publishing via RSS would let us get all the information in one convenient place.

Steak in Japan vs the U.S.

I've spent the last few days with Mrs. J-List in Las Vegas, relaxing after a hectic time at Anime Expo. After doing some shopping, we spied a steakhouse and decided to stop there for dinner, which was very pleasant. But eating steak in the U.S. is a bit different from what we were used to back home. First of all, steak in Japan is always served with a plate of steaming white rice on the side -- always referred to with the English name of raisu rather than the Japanese term gohan, since steak is a "Western" food -- and I kept unconsciously reaching for the rice that wasn't there. Also, in Japan the steak you order is usually a "hamburg" steak, a.k.a. a "Salisbury" steak made from ground beef (and often with ground pork mixed in), and eating good cuts of proper non-cut steak was a treat. Finally, nothing completes a Japanese steak experience like a large pile of dry, tasteless cabbage, and I half expected this to be on my plate...but wasn't sorry when it failed to appear.

Steak in Japan is different from what you're used to.

Cool Products Tuesday, July 12, 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 Daioh Aug 2011
One of the greatest magazine compilations of manga is here again, this time with even more great series and omake (free stuff) for you. Enjoy Railgun, Gunslinger Girl, Sora no Woto, Yotsubato and much more.
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B's LOG June 2011
B's LOG June 2011 Fans of BL and "otome" games agree, B's LOG is one of the best for getting the hottest news along with great free stuff for fans.
Toaru Majutsu no Index  A Certain Magical Index 8
Toaru Majutsu no Index Enjoy the newest issue of the popular manga posted to J-List, with great art and furigana to make the kanji easier to read.
Cutie June 2011
Cutie June 2011 If you love to follow Japanese fashion, especially cute everyday fashion and make-up, then you'll love Cutie. Free fashion accessory included!
UTB  Up To Boy June/Aug 2011 vol. 203
UTB ~ Up To Boy June/Aug 2011 We love it when Japanese idols show off their skills, especially when they are in shimapan swimwear! A nice idol magazine which will sell out fast.
Japanese T-Shirt -- Niisan, Looking for Sister (Imoto)
Here's a wacky new J-List T-shirt that combines a parody of a famous car logo with a word many J-List customers will know very well: Niisan, meaning "older brother." (It's also used as oniisan frequently.) The text underneath says, "Now Accepting Applications for a Younger Sister."
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Yui Hirasawa 1/8 Figure by Max Factory **Preorder**
My Favorite K-On! Figure Enjoy that awesome Yui "sukumizu" figure that finally came in, which has optional "Santa Wear" (yes they really call it that) for displaying around the Holidays.
Kirino Kosaka 1/10 Figure  Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai**Preorder**
Oreimo Figures In Stock, Too Then enjoy two delicious Kirino figures for the Oreimo fan in you. She's so moe she'll have you gazing at her for hours.
Hello Kitty Chopsticks Training Set w/ Stars
Training Chopsticks A real treat for Hello Kitty fans: a pair of training chopsticks so anyone can learn, with little erasers to practice picking up. Non-kawaii style in stock, too.
Hello Kitty Face Towel  Big Apple
Hello Kitty Face Towels ~ Big Apple  Hello Kitty is so cute, I'm sure she'll go perfectly inside your bathroom as a cute, and 100% cotton, face and hand towel.
Zaku II Cup Holder  Mobile Suit Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam Cup Holders Show your Gundam pride with these epic cup holders to hold your drinks. The popular items are restocked today.
Pikachu Pokemon Best Wish Plush
Restocked Pokemon Plush Toys These plush toys of your favorite Pokemon characters from the Best Wish series are here and so kawaii. Restocked today.
Moe Moe Dragon Encyclopedia  Dragon Jiten
Moe Moe Encyclopedia Books Learn about such important subjects as lingerie, dragons, fairies and the world of Cthulhu with the fabulous Moe Moe Encyclopedia, restocked today.
iView 2600HD HDMI Upscaling DVD Player w/ DIVX  Karaoke
Our Region Free DVD Player has been updated! The new player features HDMI upscaling of DVDs to 720p or 1080i, support for viewing DIVX and AVI movies on the player, the ability to watch movies through USB drives, and more. It's fully region free, and will be the most innovative DVD player you've ever owned. Best of all, the price has been dropped!
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Love Hotel  Satellite of LOVE
Love Hotel, Haikyo Photobooks See some awesome photobooks restocked today, including a look at Japan's enigmatic love hotels, plus cool haikyo (modern ruins) books.
Cool Books for Otaku Fresh stock of fun books for otaku, including the popular OTACOOL photobook that celebrates otaku culture in all its many forms.
Square Plastic SOBA Dish  Japanese Soba Noodle Dish
Japanese Soba Noodle Dish Eat Japanese noodles the proper way, on a bamboo plate that allows the water from the noodles to fall through so they don't get soggy. A great item for summer.
Open Fire Fish Grill  YAKIAMI
Open Fire Grill for Fish or Mochi Your friends will be amazed at your fish cooking skills until you reveal your secret weapon, the YAKIAMI! Also makes great Mochi cakes.
Nobel Sours Gummy -- Grape Flavor
Today's New Japanese Snacks We've got great new Japanese snacks, incl. Nobel Sours Gummy, amazing Wasabi and Seaweed Rice Crackers, Juicy & Fresh Gum and Hi-Chew.
Kyoto Candy -- Kyou Nishiki
Restocked Candies and Gum Then see our restocked snacks, including traditional Kyoto candies that are popular with our customers, an awesome treat from old Kyoto.
Totoro Thermal Bento Box Set Flower in Garden
Every day we can bring you fresh stock of our Ghibli bento boxes is a good day, and we've restocked our best Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service bento boxes today. My favorite is the Thermal Bento Box series, it's great.
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HENOHENOMOHEJI Genuine Lacquered 2 Tier Square  Bento Box  Elastic Band
Great Bento From Japan, Restocked We've also restocked that awesome hiragana bento box, plus several other traditional bento boxes from Hakoya.
3 Size Rabbit  Bird Kawaii Cooking Shaper Set
Bento Accessories & More Then see some great bento accessories restocked, including shapers that make cookies and rice into cute shapes, and other fun items.
Portable Paper Soap  Contain Green Tea  Catechin
Portable Paper Soap ~ Green Tea When you just need to wash your hands but don't have soap, you'll be thankful you had a package of go-everywhere paper soap.
Genki II  An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 2 Textbook
Genki: The Most Popular Japanese Textbooks Also see more stock of the Genki textbook and workbook series, which is the #1 method for learning Japanese in the world.
Lying Lucky Cat Display    MANPUKU  ' Full of Happiness'
A Whole Bunch of Traditional Items All the lucky cat and good luck charms you'll need, to traditional Japanese smoking pipes, and much much more, back in stock!
Capcom Girls Calendar 2012 **Preorder**
Capcom Girls & Heros Calendar Preorders 2012 looks to be a good year, and it is sure to be a better year if you've got one of these great Capcom character calendars.
Melty 1/8 Figure  Shining Hearts **Preorder**
Preorder Figures We've got lots of figures that are waiting for your pre-order. I am in awe of the Melty figure, and the Hibiki IdolMaster figure is also kawaii.
AnoHana Pillow Case -- Shugou **Preorder**
AnoHana Pillow Cases and Cushions Then: Get your room looking like a true AnoHana fan thanks to these cushions and pillow cases. These pre-orders are coming soon.
Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo  Happou Bijin Artworks
Restocked 'Ecchi' Artbooks Then enjoy some truly amazing books form the naughty side of J-List, including Happou Bijin's popular works, 48 Ways to Lose the Mage and more.
ROCK ON!!  K-On! Parody Toy
ROCK ON!! ~ K-On! Parody Toy K-On fans will enjoy this unique parody stress toy, featuring the strangely similar members of Rock-On! the fairly obvious copy-cat band.
HIP ONA BEAT K-On! Parody Toy
Other Amazing Stress Toys from Japan We have other wacky items too, including K-On toys and the fun Ika Musume parody toys that really gets the job done. Great for enjoying your 2D life.
The Dignity of Great 'Maria Ozawa'
Realistic Toys for Serious JAV Fans Also: we stock many epic stress toys made in perfect imitation of your favorite stars, er, private places. Click to view some of the best items.
DX Massager 'DENMA'
DX Massager 'DENMA' If you've watched a few JAV titles, you've probably seen this, the most famous personal massager used in Japan. Restocked today.
God Catching Alchemy Meister
Restocked Import Eroge Then see several top-tier eroge restocked, including God Catching Alchemy Meister, The Devil on G-String, School Mate 2 and Tears to Tiara.