Friday, August 19, 2011

Japanese Dentists

There are certain positive aspects of living in Japan, including the fact that it's such a peaceful country -- you'll generally feel safe anywhere you go here. Japan is less blessed when comes to dental care, and gaijin living here love to complain about the dentists here. While Japanese dentists are good at fixing teeth, they're famous for making you come back dozens of times to finish your dental work, instead of getting it out of the way in a few visits. I once had some reconstruction work done on three teeth that took an incredible 18 months of twice-weekly visits, which was a huge waste of my time. I believe Japan's dentists take so long to work on teeth because of the way the National Insurance system is structured -- they're only allowed to charge a certain amount to the system each day, so they spread it out as much as they can.

Most gaijin are not fans of Japanese dentists.

Japan Avoids Multi-Culturalism?

I happened to see that the "manifesto" of Norwegian gunman and all-around asshat Anders Behring Breivik included words of praise for Japan for avoiding "multi-culturalism" and being a homogenous society. I couldn't disagree more: while Japan is one of the more homogenous societies in the world due to its unique history, which included being closed off to the outside world for 250 years, it's as unique and varied a place as anywhere in Asia. Pretty much everything good in Japan came from the outside world, from Buddhism and kanji writing back in the 6th century, industrialization in the 19th and peaceful integration with the world economy in the postwar period, and Japan has gained much from the many ethnic foreigners who live here and contribute to society as a whole, even if we make up 3% of the total population compared to 12%, as in Norway. The Japanese are aware that they're more insulated culturally than other nations and do their best to combat this trend, promoting ideas like kokusai-ka, a term that can be translated as "internationalization" or actively opening yourself up to ideas and cultures from around the world.
Thanks, I had to get that off my chest...

Japan is actually very open to other cultures and ideas.

Western Gaijin have "Chinest Envy"

When you're a white guy studying Japanese in university, a funny thing happens: as you progress in your studies there are fewer and fewer Caucasians in class and more Asians, especially Chinese. Since Japanese and Chinese share the kanji writing system, Chinese speakers get to read Japanese more or less "for free," although they're often not sure how to pronounce a lot of words, as kanji in Japan have two readings, a "Japanese" pronunciation and a "Chinese" one. Western foreigners who have to work harder to master the challenging-but-beautiful characters tend to have a bit of "Chinese envy," wishing that they, too, could waltz in and learn Japanese after a year of study or so. On the other hand, the Japanese language makes heavy use of random loan words from English, and when TV pundits throw around smart-sounding terms like "assessment," "agenda" and "motivation," we understand them while the Chinese are scratching their heads. (By the way, if you're interested in learning Japanese, J-List can help...)

Chinese have an easier time of learning Japanese.

Cool Products Friday, August 19, 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.
Mayo Chiki! Vol. 1
One of the most popular anime series on TV is Mayo Chiki, the story of a butler who turns out to have a secret -- he's really a she. Loaded with fanservice and great art, this manga is easy to read because it features furigana next to the kanji!
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Queen's Gate -- Noel Vermillion
Queen's Gate ~ Noel Vermilion  Fans of Queens Gate (or Queens Blade) will want to get their hands on this new artbook, with an RPG you can really play!
Shunya Yamashita illustration Works III ** preorder **
Awesome Artbooks Restocked We're big fans of the art and character design of Shunya Yamashita, and have restocked his popular artbook. Every page is gorgeous!
NEPTUNE mk2  Limited Edition
NEPTUNE mk2 ~ Limited Edition Break out your PS3 for a great bishoujo game. This limited edition gives you tons of free stuff, including two figures. Wow!
Restocked Visual Novels from Japan We love all manner of unique games from Japan, and have restocked Rewrite, the gorgeous visual novel. Get the limited edition before it sells out.
Hatsune Miku 1/8 Figure Lat ver. Character Vocal Series01
Hatsune Miku 1/8 Figure Lat ver. Take home this super cute Vocaloid Hatsune Miku figure, who is ready to dance into your living room or office. Love her nerdy glasses!
2.5 Ore no Imoto ga konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Trading Figure Set of 8 **Preorder**
OreImo Trading Figure Full Set Enjoy the super-kawaii female cast of Oreimo in this adorable figure set! My chibi-Kirino can't be this cute. In stock, though it will sell fast.
Suzumiya Haruhi Nendoroid Petite Summer Festival Set **Preorder**
Haruhi, Megaman & Other Figures Create your own dramatic cross-series displays with these great figures like Haruhi, Megaman, and more. Kyonkun, denwa!
OTACOOL 2  Worldwide Cosplayers **preorder**
Celebrate Otaku Culture with OTACOOL We love the OTACOOL series of books that help us celebrate otaku culture. Click to see the awesome Worldwide Cosplayers book, restocked today.
Peacock  Sakura Women's Pink Kimono
We've just got in some new, authentic Japanese kimonos, perfect for looking stylish in every season. Choose from either sakura in red or peacocks in pink. Very elegant. They also come with English instructions on how to properly put them on.
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Totoro Slim 2-tier Bento Box
Totoro Slim 2-tier Bento Box Bring Totoro with you to lunch with this super cute bento box set that fits plenty of food for even the hungriest of tummies. Great design, too!
Sitting Jiji Plush Medium -- Kiki's Delivery Service
Studio Ghibli Items Restocked Got some fun items for Hayao Miyazaki fans today, incl. several "Sitting Jiji" plush toys from Kiki's Delivery Service and more music boxes.
Kanji Entry Pen for Elementary School
Yay Japanese Pens! Japanese pens are the best in the world, and we've restocked some great ones in time for school. The official Kanji Entry Pen, Pentel Tradio and Air Press.
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 32  Electronic Block Mini ** preorder **  Science Projects for Adult
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 32 This is your chance to preorder this amazing science project where you can build your own transistor logic board. A great home project.
Morinaga Hi-Chew -- Peach
Today's Delicious New Snacks We've got some very delicious new snacks today, like Pringles Salsa and Tropical Chicken flavors, and Morinaga Peach Hi-Chew.
Meisan Petite Salt Candy -- Ume Flavor
Meisan Petite Salt Candy Also: traditional Japanese "salt candy" which is more than just delicious: it contains salt your body needs to combat the hot weather.
Neri Ame - Traditional Liquid Candy w/ Chopsticks
Traditional Japanese Snacks We've restocked some of our most epic traditional Japanese snacks, incl. Neri Ame, the "liquid candy" you knead with chopsticks, plus Ramune Mochi!
Lotte Doraemon Kawarinbo
Restocked Snacks from Japan Enjoy Doraemon Kawarinbo candies, various flavors of Morinaga Hi-Chew, UHA Puccho and Zerosh gummy plus "green tea" marshmallows, wow.
Super Mini Cube ONIGIRI Maker
The Japanese love onigiri -- shaped rice balls -- and J-List offers many outstanding ways to shape rice to make it fun to eat. Look for a big restocking of our most popular onigiri products, great for bento fans!
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OURAN  Red Sakura Bento Box With Chopsticks  Elastic Band
Sakura Bento Box With Chopsticks We carry a complete bento sets which come with everything you need including chopsticks. See these traditional bento boxes, restocked today.
Natural Rubber Kitchen Gloves
Natural Rubber Kitchen Gloves My mother had small hands, and she loved buying the small rubber gloves they sell here whenever she'd visit Japan. Now we have them on the site.
The Kihon 200 - The Basics Recipes
The Kihon 200 - The Basics Recipes The 200 basic recipes of Japanese cuisine are detailed in this great new recipe book - all you need is here! A great Japanese cookbook.
Kanji de Manga: 4-character Words If you want to learn Japanese, why not do it through manga? This book helps you learn 4-character compound words, an important part of the language.
Japanese T-shirt DOMO-KUN Cute Character DOMOKUN NHK
Japanese T-shirt DOMO-KUN J-List has been a Friend of Domo-kun ever since the cute brown monster became an icon in the Interwebs 13 years ago. This is our most popular T-shirt.
Natural Bamboo Cool Pillow
Restocked Traditional Items from Japan Awesome traditional items restocked, incl. the Natural Bamboo Cool Pillow, plus authentic Buddhist prayer beads for fashion or enlightenment.
Chris Makise 1/8 Figure  Steins;Gate **Preorder**
Kurisu Makise ~ Steins;Gate *Preorder* This excellently designed figure of the young genius Kurisu Makise from Nitro Plus's Steins;Gate is here for preorder. "Christina!"
Meiko Honma 1/10 Figure Beach Queen  Ano Hana **Preorder**
Meiko Honma 1/10 Figure *Preorder* The story of Ano Hi Mita Hana is very emotional, but we can't help but feel like playing on the beach when we see Menma's Beach Queen figure.
Mikoto  Kuroko Pouch  Toaru Kagaku no Rail Gun **Preorder**
Mikoto & Kuroko Pouch ~ *Preorder* Fans of the To Aru Kagaku No Railgun will want to check out this stylish and useful pouch that is now ready for preorder.
TSUBASA -- Tsubasa Amami
Great Restocked Photobooks We have some outstanding photobooks, including Tsubasa Amami's popular release plus the fiery Yuma Asami's glossy photobook too.
Anemone  Perfect Pussy Toy
Modeled after this real thing, this onahole is so convincing that you'll be surprised it doesn't want you to hold it when you're done. They say its perfect, but the only way you'll know is if you try it for yourself.
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TENGA 3D Spiral Restocked They look like they belong in a museum of modern art, but they're amazing stress toys to take the edge off after a hard day's work. Restocked today.
TENGA New Hole Warmer
Other Tenga Toys Restocked Also, enjoy the Tenga Hole Warmer, which brings the realism to a "hole" new level, plus the best lotion for your private time.
Sengoku Tenshi Djibril (Makai Tenshi Djibril 5)
New Eroge: Sengoku Tenshi Djibril Load it onto your computer and have this adventure game take you to magical places, including some very eroi ones.
The Devil on G-string  G-senjou no Maou
Restocked Import Eroge, Too See the <>ecchi Clannad sequel, Sakura-iro Quartet, BOIN Super Pack, and more restocked.
Princess Waltz *Preorder*
Recommended Game: Princess Waltz In a dance of flashing blades one princess must emerge triumphant. Guide hero Arata through romantic intrigue and find victory in the Princess Waltz!
Queen's Blade Rebellion -- Laira
Queen's Blade Rebellion ~ Laira Enjoy another brand-new Queen's Blade artbook, with such sexy visuals, they are quite nosebleed-inducing. Love it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Of Japanese Grammar and Zombies

Recently I wote about the anime and light novel series Kore wa Zombie desu ka? and I thought I'd give a short grammar lesson. One of the most useful words of Japanese is the "subject marker" wa, which is essentially a grammatical particle that indicates the subject of a Japanese sentence. (Example: kono manga wa shiro-kuro desu, "this manga is black-and-white"). The official Romanization of the title is KOREHA ZOMBIE DESUKA?, and if you wondered what the "HA" was doing there, well, the particle wa is always written with the hiragana that's normally read ha, which is where this comes from. Personally, I learned Japanese by treating example sentences as mathematical formulas, switching in different words to create new meanings. It's as good a way to study nihongo as any I know of.

Memorizing Japanese sentences is a good way to learn.

New Eroge Posted for Preorder

Great news -- we're posting the upcoming Japanese eroge Yumina the Ethereal up for preorder now. The game -- a gorgeous full RPG with scrolling maps, dungeon crawling and combat -- is the story of Yumina, a girl who's dangerously close to failing out of her academy class. Her only hope is to enter the Student Council War with Ayumu, the battle to become student council president and change the regulations so she can pass to the next grade. Of course it isn't that simple... Her classmates turn out to be from other dimensions, and the protagonist Ayumu gets the chance to romance and pursue various other heroines as the story unfolds. Recommended for fans of Princess Waltz and Aselia.

Japanese and Korean Address Are Confusing

One thing you don't generally think of a lot is addresses and how they work, or how easy it is to find your friend's house when he lives on 123 Main Street -- just drive down the street and watch the numbers scroll by. Japanese addresses are a lot harder to deal with, based on an archaic system of dividing land into ever smaller arbitrary units. A Japanese address will generally contain a prefecture, a city, a "town" within that city, and a complex number like 3-25-10 that has little to do with the numbers around it. Finding a certain location using only this information is virtually impossible, and it's a requirement that any printed advertisement feature a small map indicating how to get to the shop if they want any customers to visit. For added fun, streets are seldom named, meaning you have to memorize how to get places abstractly, like "turn left at the beauty shop, then right at the pachinko parlor." South Korea has a similarly confusing system which they inherited from Japan, but now they're doing something about it: a great remapping of the entire country, with Western style street names and with sequential house numbers. It's an amazing undertaking, and I hope it goes well for them.

Japanese addresses are archaic and confusing.

J-List Meets Costco

There's a big change in store for the J-List crew this summer: the impending opening of a Costco about ten minutes from here. When I came to live in Japan in 1991, it was frankly not a convenient place to live, and if you didn't want the meager items Japanese stores decided to stock for you, you had no alternatives. Back in those days Japan had official policies trying to keep out large foreign retail shops, which were disruptive to the charming but inefficient mom-and-pop stores that dotted the landscape. During the 1990s this trend reversed, however, and large companies like Toys "R" Us and Ikea started making inroads. Costco -- a large membership warehouse club chain -- opened its first store in Japan in 1999 and has been growing at a fast pace, as Japanese consumers learn the joys of buying a year's supply of detergent and tiramisu in a container so large it can only be called a "bucket." While I am happy about having a Costco so close to me, closer to my Japanese home than my house in San Diego in fact, I have mixed feelings, too. It seems wrong somehow that Japan should be this convenient, and I'm also worried about gaining weight from too much tiramisu.

Iincredibly, a Costco is opening near J-List.
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.
Comptiq Sep 2011
Comptiq is the extremely popular magazine for all things relating to games, manga and anime. It is always filled with great features and omake (gifts), like this month's figure from the series Fate/Extra.
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Hetalia Conversation Book  English for Traveling All About USA
Hetalia Japanese/English Conversation Learn Japanese or English with the help of your favorite Hetalia characters. Before you know it, you'll be speaking like a native.
Japanese T-Shirt -- Niisan, Looking for Sister (Imoto)
Japanese T-Shirt ~ SCIENCE! (Fitted Girl's Tee) A great new T-shirt based on a 4chan meme, our new Science! shirt is a hit. For the awesome nerdy girls who like science too, here's a girl's version.
egg Sep 2011
egg Sep 2011 Those into the kogal fashion world need to check out this magazine. From fashion to make-up, you'll always find what you need to look stylish.
100% White Cotton Panty size L
Restocked Pantsu, Other Good Things In addition to more shimapan striped anime panties, we're restocking the classic white pantsu that go so well with high school uniform cosplay. Just sayin'.
Meow Meow Collection Hoodie  White
Meow Meow Collection Hoodies Bring out the funky neko (cat) inside of you with these cute hoodies we just got in. A great fashion item your friends will want to steal.
Japanese Style Eye Patch for Anime Cosplay - Evangelion
Random Restocked Products Enjoy our wacky eye patch for Evangelion or Ikki Tousen cosplay, plus the Laughing Poop Gimmick Toy, fun seaweed punch for bento and more.
Evangelion Portlait 2x2 Quartetto Full Set of 5
Evangelion Portrait 2x2 Quartette Full Set of 5 If you have waited to start your collection of Eva figures, you are in luck. This great 5 piece set features Shinji, Rei, Asuka, and Kaworu. An amazing set.
Mio Akiyama Nendoroid Plus Action Plush
Mio Akiyama Nendoroid Plus Action Plush These adorable plushies from Goodsmile partner brand Gift look just how you'd imagine SD versions of the K-On! girls. Stock is very limited.
Angel Beats SR Series Figure Set of 5
Angel Beats SR Series Figure Set of 5  Check out this great set of Angel Beats SR capsule toy figures, with no blind figures or randoms. They're very kawaii!
Ruiko Saten 1/8 Figure  To Aru Kagaku no Railgun **Preorder**
Anime Products Restocked The gorgeous Saten-san from A Certain Scientific Railgun, the wonderfully ecchi Luna Luna from Queen's Blade, plus a Kirino Cushion cover.
Hello Kitty DX Ice Cube Tray
Hello Kitty Ice Cube Tray 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.
Studio Ghibli Music Box -- Jiji Family
Restocked Totoro and Ghibli Products Enjoy some fun Ghibli items, including Kiki's Delivery Service and Totoro music boxes, with great music by Joe Hisaishi. Great for collectors.
Miku Hatsune Project DIVA  Popular Edition
Restocked Miku Hatsune, Other PSP Games Enjoy the awesome Miku Hatsune pantsu simulator, I mean game, plus Oreimo, Toradora, A Certain Magical Index and other anime PSP games!
Smart Ivory Clip Calculator
Fun Stationery Items We always have fun stationery items in stock at J-List. See our Milk Chocolate Photo Album for storing your sweet memories, plus a great calculator.
Glico Collon Cafe Au Latte
We have Jaga Butter Pretz for that authentic Potato + Butter summer festival taste, plus the amazing Collon chocolate cookies in "Cafe au Lait" flavor. Yes that's just about the wackiest name ever attached to a chocolate product.
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Kracie Furidama Kit - Grape Flavor
Kracie Furidama Kit - Grape Flavor Make your own Japanese candy treat at home with this furidama kit, and kind of grape gummy treat. Amaze your friends with this!
Baby Star Oyatsu Korokke Snack
Restocked Snacks & Gum Baby Star Croquettes Snack (yum!), Rich Toppo in several flavors, Poifull Mint candies, Green Tea Milk Caramels, "No Time" gum, plus amazing rice crackers!
Genuine Lacquered Miso Soup Bowl Style Bento Box  Rabbit
Great Bento Boxes Restocked Take a look at our some of our classic bentos we've restocked, including the Miso Soup Bowl and Happy World Bento Box. So nice!
Lacquer-style Square Sake Cup *Black*
Awesome Sake Cups from Japan You aren't really drinking sake unless you are drinking it from a square cup, or one with great ukiyoe art on it. Become a master of sake with these.
Home Made Kawaii Crepe Microwavable Mold
Home Made Kawaii Crepe Microwavable Mold Make your own healthy homemade crepes with little hassle or cleanup, thanks to this amazing microwavable device. Very cool.
Decoration Pencil for Character Bento or Crepes
Decoration Pens for Character Bento or Crepes When you want to decorate your food, you'll find it becomes much easier with the right tools, like these great squeezable decoration pens.
HIRAGANA Study Bento Cup  48pcs
Awesome Bento Cups, Picks and More One of our favorite bento accessories, little paper cups that teach you hiragana as you eat!
Hiragana Bath Chart Never waste time that could be used to study Japanese! With this hiragana bath chart in your bathroom and you'll be one step closer to understanding Japanese.
Melanchory of Suzumiya Haruhi 'Tameiki' EX Figure Set of 2 Haruhi  Nagato **Preorder**
Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi 'Tameiki' *Preorder* This is cool: a two figure set for Haruhi fans that's perfect for summer. Features Haruhi and Nagato wearing summer short kimonos.
TigerBunny Wrist Band -- Wild Tiger **Preorder**
Tiger & Bunny Wrist Bands *Preorder* Show your support for the best robot pilot with these cool wrist bands from the show Tiger &amp Bunny.
Reina First Photobook -- Reina Fujie
Restocked Sexy Photobooks These artbooks combine the beauties of the Japanese female body with the artistic work of great photographers. Very classy and sexy.
Loisirs Creatifs -- Amane Soh illustrations
Restocked Artbooks Do you prefer to look at sexy moe girls than their real-life counterparts? Great illustrations by very talented artists. We love 2D!
Mai Ichijou 1/7 Cast off Figure  Mai FAVOLITE **Preorder**
Mai Ichijou 1/7 Cast off Figure *Preorder* Here's a great ero figure based on the popular Mai Favorite manga, with super detail and clothes that can be, er, "cast off."
Magic Hole Magical Onanie  1   Lyrical Nanoha Parody Toy
If you're a fan of the Nanoha magical girl anime, here's a way to bring your love of the characters in the show to the next level: a series of unique onahole toys for personal stress relief. Wow!
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Tsun Ero
Restocked Stress Toys & More We've restocked some of our most popular stress toys too, including the Tsun Ero and Oreimo hole toys, plus amazing massagers.
Air Doll  Eri Himekawa
'Love Dolls' Restocked Browse our fun "love pillows" page, where you can find great toys that are inflatable, can wear clothes and more. Amazing!
The Forbidden Hospital Ward  Kindan no Byoutou
The Forbidden Hospital Ward ~ Kindan no Byoutou Here's an outstanding import eroge title that was just released, in which you explore the secret world of a lonely hospital at night...
Song of Saya  Saya no Uta + Hanachirasu *Preorder*
Saya no Uta + Hanachirasu *Preorder* Remember: you can preorder the legendary Saya no Uta, which comes with Hanachirasu included free. Two fantastic titles from Nitroplus, coming soon.
Yumina the Ethereal **Preorder**
Now you can preorder one of the most awesome eroge titles to come along in years, the gorgeous RPG Yumina the Ethereal. Features dungeons crawling, scrolling maps, combat and more.
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