Friday, August 26, 2011

My Strange Nichijo Coincidence

These days nearly all anime is "filmed" in a real location, and you have a car and an obsessive personality, you can travel to the pleasant lakeside town where Please Twins was is set, stroll through the halls of the real K-On! school, or visit the the village Hinamizawa was based on in Higurashi ~ When They Cry (though I'd be terrified of being horribly murdered there). As a fan living in Japan, I can visit -- the otaku term for it is seichi junrei or "make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land" -- that beautiful bridge from the AnoHana anime...however I generally don't expect anime to come to me. The other day I was randomly googling information on the anime Nichijou, which can best be described as Lucky Star meets Azumanga Daioh with lost of jokes about Buddhist statues, when I got a surprise. It turns out that that, by an incredibly random chance, the setting for the town in Nichijou is...J-List's home city of Isesaki, Gunma. Every background, every intersection, every building you see in the anime is an identifiable part of our city, including the amusement park, which is visible from my window right now, and the location of Hakase and Nano's house, which I pass every day when I go to the gym. I thought that someone at Kyoto Animation must be trolling J-List big time, but it turns out that the manga-ka happens to be from this city.
This isn't the only coincidence I've encountered in Japan. While I was studying Japanese in college, I read lots of manga, since the panels are mostly filled with dialogue being spoken by characters, which gives students something to pattern their spoken language on. The manga I most read was Touch, the classic tale of Tatsuya, who was forced to lead his high school's baseball team to victory at the Koshien Championships after his twin brother is killed in a car accident. Imagine my surprise when I found that the city I'd moved to just happened to be the birthplace of the artist, Adachi Mitsuru...and my wife even shares his birthday. A lot of fans of Russian idol Yulia Nova visit two sites in Japan regularly, J-List and the official website of the photographer, Satoshi Kizu. Would you believe that, again by chance, he just happens to live about 2 km from the J-List office? Is our city some kind of "power spot" that makes these coincidences happen?

WTF? It turns out Nichijou is based in J-List's home city.
Some links (1, 2, 3, 4) showing the town of "Tokisadame" which are shots of near J-List. Not only are these in the same city as us, they're in the same frigging neighborhood. So frigging werid... 

In the map that shows in episode 2, J-List is located here, just north of Kezoji Park. The hell???

Election Time: Japanese Indecision '11

All eyes are watching the upcoming election for president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which will determine the country's next Prime Minister. Will it be be Trade Minister Banri Kaieda, Agriculture Minister Michiko Kano, or perhaps or Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda? Personally my money is on former Land, Infrastructure and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara, the "Tony Blair of Japan" (you'll be hearing that phrase a lot in the foreign media I predict), who made a name for himself by publicly cancelling an expensive dam project. He had the good fortune of being forced to resign his post when it came to light that he'd accepted political donations from a "foreigner" (really a zainichi Korean, born and raised in Japan), which meant that he was not a part of the current government during the disasters of March and the debacles that followed. Of course, a lot of Japanese voters would probably prefer Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, who was the face of the government in the aftermath of the disasters, and who enjoys widespread support now. While the candidates make public their various political positions, they must also work to win the support of former PM Yukio Hatohama and his co-Kingmaker Seiji Ozawa (no relation to that Ozawa), who control the largest wing of their party.

Time to elect a new Prime Minister. Thank God there's no election this time.

J-List Anime Eyeglasses Contest Update

Remember, you get a free pair of awesome J-List Anime Glasses with every order, which let you become your favorite anime character. J-List is having a fun J-List Anime Eyes Photo Contest too, and we'll give $250 gift certificates to the best three photos our customers send in. We're extending the deadline to September 15h to allow customers who haven't gotten their glasses yet to send in photos. Will your photo be one of the lucky winners? (J-List anime eye glasses are available while supplies last, details can be seen here.)

Cool Products Friday, August 26, 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.
Monthly Anime Style vol.2 w/ Nadia Nendoroid Petite
Before there was Gurren Lagann, before there was Evangelion, the most awesome Gainax anime ever was Nadia of the Mysterious Sea. Here's a great issue of the popular magazine Monthly Anime Style that comes with the rarest of wonderful treats, a Nadia Nendoroid!
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Hiragana Times Sep 2011 NO. 299
Hiragana Times Sep 2011 NO. 299 Hiragana Times is the magazine that you can trust to always give you the latest cultural news from Japan, plus great ways to study your Kanji.
Tabitomo Conversation  JAPAN
Tabitomo Conversation ~ JAPAN If you're ever planning a trip to Japan, having a conversational tip book is a great help. Made for beginners to intermediate learners in mind.
2012 Calendar -- Deluxe Joy of Sushi **preorder**
2012 Calendar ~ Deluxe Joy of Sushi *preorder*  We think if we put this calendar on our wall we'll be hungry all year long, looking at the artful style of sushi everyday. Great for foodies.
2012 Calendar -- Michi  Japanese Proverb  **preorder**
Other Gorgeous 2012 Calendars Posted We've got other outstanding 2012 calendars posted for preorder too, incl. kanji calendars, traditional art, plus Japanese tea gardens, wow!
Little Devil Ageha  Koakuma Ageha Sep 2011
When it comes to fashion, you can't find anything more on the bling-bling edge as Ageha magazine, featuring all the trends of the Shibuya into one colorful magazine filled with tons of great information and photos. So much fun to read.
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Shimapan Dream  Sky Blue M
Shimapan Restocked See a nice restocking of shimapan for girls and guys to try on. Great for "stealth cosplay" or daily wear.
White School Swimsuits  Skirt Type (XXXL Size)
School Swimsuits ~ Skirt Type The cult of the suku-mizu (the Japanese school swimsuit) is seen in anime a lot, and we've restocked several for you today.
Helio Touwa Lucky Charm -- Good Relationship  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko **Preorder**
Denpa Onna items In Stock We think Erio and the characters from Denpa Onna are great, so we're pleased to have so many new items from the series here.
Kyubey Face Cushion  Puella Magi Madoka Magica **Preorder**
Madoka Magika, AnoHana Products Although a flotation device featuring Menma is a rather black joke (since she died by drowning), we've got it, plus Madoka stuff!
Kanade 1/10 Figure BEACH QUEENS  Angel Beats! **Preorder**
Kanade 1/10 Figure BEACH QUEENS ~ Angel Beats! The adorable Angel Beats figure of Kanade in "beach mode" is in stock, for anyone who wants to pick one up before she sells out.
One Piece Fragrant Pen  Green / Chocolate Scent
Back to School with One Piece Anime Pens Get ready to face the challenges of another year of school with these great One Piece pens, pen cases and more.
Project DIVA Presents  Miku Hatsune 39's Giving Day  (Blu-ray Disc)
We Love Hatsune Miku We're huge Hatsune Miku fans at J-List, and we've restocked her awesome live concert on Blu-ray. Fully compatible with North American players.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable Fans of the Madoka Magica are going to have a hard time waiting for the release of this PSP game, so you better pre-order soon while you still can!
K-ON! After School Live!! ***Preorder***
Restocked PSP Games The amazing K-On!! rhythm game for PSP is restocked, plus the Miku Hatsune dancing game (with pantsu), Queen's Blade, OreImo and more.
Pixiv Girls Collection 2011  Pixiv Official Art Collection
Restocked Pixiv Artbooks The best bishoujo art from artists' social networking website Pixiv is restocked on J-List today. We consider it our mission to carry cool items like these.
Anime Picture Book (ehon)  My Neighbor Totoro
We Love Totoro See some fun restocked Totoro products, including those delightful Totoro picture book and more. Click to see the new items.
Hello Kitty LED Lantern Strap -- Red
Hello Kitty LED Lantern Strap Take Hello Kitty everywhere with you, and let her light the way with this kawaii LED strap the also looks like a traditional lantern.
UHA Devil Fruits One Piece x Shigekix
We love anime, and we love Japanese snacks, so naturally we carry a lot of anime snacks on the site. The newest is Devil Fruits Gummy Candies from One Piece. Long live fun anime snacks from Japan.
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Yamayoshi Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) Potato Chips
Other Delicious New Snacks We've got potato chips flavored like kara-age, the Japanese style of fried chicken, plus new 100% Juice Gummy.
Popin' Cookin' Oekaki Gummy Land
Nice Restocking of Japanese Snacks See the entire Popin' Cookin' series (sushi, bento, doughnuts and more), Hi-Chew candies, Thin Tomato Pretz, Ramune Candy, Ume plums and more.
Metal Mode Stylish Bento Set  2 tier Bento Box  Elastic Band  Chopsticks Set
We Love Sleek and Stylish Bento We love us some stylish and modern bento boxes, and have restocked several of the more elegant ones, for guys and girls.
Easy Daily Lunches  Mainichi rakuraku Obento
Great Ideas for Bento Lunches See fresh stock of Easy Daily Lunches, filled with ideas for healthy bento creations, with color photos to help you get ideas for your next lunch.
Kawaii Frog Spoon
Kawaii Frog Spoon We like to find things that are very unique to Japan, and especially kawaii. When we saw this cute frog spoon, we knew it had to be shared.
Pocky Chocolate Parody Chopsticks
Pocky Chopsticks ~ Why Not? Back in stock: the cool Pocky chopsticks, which come in chocolate and strawberry versions. J-List lives to sell products like these.
genki textbooks restocked
Restocked Japanese Study Products The most popular Japanese textbook series is the Genki series, and we've restocked it for you today. How much nihongo can you learn this year?
Samurai Sword Key Chain -- Black
Samurai Sword Keychains & More Also enjoy miniature samurai sword keychains, a ninja "shuriken" strap with power stone, plus our fun Retracting Parody Ninja Blade.
iPod  iPhone USB Cable
iPod & iPhone USB Cable Keep your iWhatever connected to your computer with this highly portable connector that features a retro coiled cord design. Very useful.
Illustrator huke Art Book BLK w/Figma BRSB **Preorder**
Illustrator huke Art Book BLK w/Figma BRSB *Preorder* The master illustrator behind Black Rock Shooter has a new artbook + figure coming, with Steins;Gate and BRS art!
Kirino Kousaka 1/8 Figure -memories-  Ore Imo **Preorder**
Awesome Kirino Figures *Preorder* Fans of Kirino from OreImo need to check out these cool new figures ready for preorder. We especially like the Kuroneko crossover.
Erio Towa 1/10 Beach Queen Figure  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko **Preorder**
Other Preorder Figures There are many great figures awaiting a home with you form popular anime series like Denpa Onna, Ikoku Meiro no Kurowaaze, Samurai Girl and more.
Ashi-Pan  Panties Around the Leg
Ashi-Pan ~ Panties Around the Leg Panties that are half-way off are strangely more mesmerizing than all the way. This book takes that as the theme with great photography.
Kyonyu Artworks
Kyonyu Artworks With over 1000 color images of gorgeous ero babes with kyonyu talents, this artbook is an amazing find. So beautiful, so sexy.
Tobimono GIRLS -- Noriyasu Yamauchi illustrations
Awesome Artbooks Restocked, Too Then enjoy this classic artbook by one of Japan's most well known artists. Super classic style and plenty of "fan service" for us.
Love Cup Kumi
Love Cup Kumi Take home a little bit of fun with the help of Kumi's Love Cup, an onahole that is sure to take the edge off.
Twins Sister Sandwich  Chihiro
More Awesome Anime Stress Toys Or go all out with a deluxe toy from J-List. We've restocked Twins Sister Sandwich, an innovative novelty that includes hole, shimapan and more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Japanese are the Politest People

It's often said the Japanese are the most polite people on Earth, and this is generally a Good Thing. When foreigners arrive in Japan they're treated as okyakusan -- guests -- and most people they encounter here will be extremely courteous. It's part of the Japanese national character to dislike confrontations of any kind, and I've seen scary boso-zoku bikers turn into shy little girls when I approached them openly, asking if I could take a picture with them. One of the archetypical character types in anime is one who always uses keigo (polite, formal Japanese), like Miyuki from Lucky Star or Koizumi from Haruhi, and fans who are studying Japanese are usually thankful for these characters, as formal Japanese is the easiest to understand. Of course, too much politeness can be a bad thing. It can serve as a barrier, making it hard to make friends, and it can cause other annoyances. A few years ago a Japanese friend of mine lived at my mother's house for a few months, and it was very difficult for her because of his efforts to be extremely polite, listening to the TV at nearly zero volume, insisting he wasn't hungry when she cooked dinner for him, and generally being too polite her comfort.

Japanese are usually very polite. This is usuaully for the best.

Boshi-Techo: a Mother-and-Child Notebook

One theme I write about often is how important children are in Japan, and how much energy the country spends on raising its children well. I've spent the past 16 years raising my own half-American, half-Japanese kids, and I've been continually impressed with nearly all aspects of child-rearing here. Health care is provided free to everyone aged 15 and under in most prefectures, and there's a real structure built around the whole process that provides first-time parents with lots of guidance. One symbol of how important children are in Japan is the boshi-techo, or mother-and-child notebook, which is given to new mothers-to-be, as seen in an episode of Bunny Drop. Everything about the child's development from before birth until the age of six is recorded in the notebook, and it becomes a treasured memory for parents for the rest of their lives (the child abandomment part of Bunny Drop notwithstanding).

A boshi-techo is an eternal link between mother and child.

Goodbye, Prime Minister Kan

The end is near for Naoto Kan, 94th Prime Minister of Japan. I've been a fan of Mr. Kan's for more than a decade, patiently waiting for him to become Prime Minister so I could make KHAAAAN! jokes (warning, sound will play). Mr. Kan tried hard to be a good leader for Japan, especially through the terrible disasters of March, but like every other Japanese PM (with the exception of Junichiro "George Washington Hair" Koizumi), public support for his cabinet eventually fell below the symbolic 20% point, forcing a change in leadership. Part of the problem seems to be the Japanese tradition of deru kui wa utareru*, translated as "the standing nail is driven," meaning that anyone who stands out for any reason, even as a duly elected leader, will suddenly find themselves the target of opposition from all sides. Japanese people seem unable to rally behind a leader and support them for any length of time, even during a period of great national trial. This is one reason why Mr. Kan is the 13th Japanese Prime Minister to hold office in the 20 years I've been in Japan, a period that has seen only four leaders in the U.K.
* In accordance with the Treaty of San Francisco, I'm required by law to write about this phrase at least once a year or I lose my Japan Blogger's license. It's pronounced "de-roo koo-EE wa oo-TAH-re-roo."

I will be sorry to see Mr. Kan go.

Announcing the Start of 2012 Calendar Season

Announcing the start of 2012 Calendar Season! Every year about this time, J-List starts taking preorders for the outstanding calendars from Japan, which are printed exclusively for the domestic Japanese market. The calendars we sell every year come in two sets: first, we post dozens of amazing calendars that capture the natural beauty of Japan; the aesthetic beauty of Japanese sushi or bento, awesome traditional art calendars and more. More awesome calendars are coming, too!

Cool Products Wednesday, August 24, 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.
Comic Gene Aug 2011
Gene comic is always filled with all the great news and features about anime that you've come to expect from such a great magazine. As usual, the best Japanese give you cool omake (free stuff), and this issue is no exception. Enjoy the great new manga!
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Infinite Stratos Bath Towel Type B Charlotte
Infinite Stratos Bath Towels We've also got some soft cotton towels that show some great art from the series IS (Infinite Stratos). They are quite awesome IMHO.
I.S EX Summer Beach Figure Set of 2 Charlotte  Laura **Preorder**
Awesome Swimsuit Figures In Stock Also, we've posted some great figures for summer, from infinite Stratos and A Certain Scientific Railgun. Get them now!
Naruko Anjou iPhone4 Cover  AnoHana
Menma and Anaru iPhone4 Covers Be sure to check out these neat iPhone4 cases with characters from anime Ano Hi Mita Hana. But warning, most sold as preorder so these will go fast.
Revoltech No.103 JEHUTY  Z.O.E
Other Restocked Anime Figures We think that a desk just isn't a desk until you've placed at least one figure on it. Show your fandom with these cool restocked figures, today.
2012 Calendar -- Lucky Cat
2012 Calendar ~ Lucky Cat Make 2012 a comical cat year with this kawaii calendar that will be sure to bring you good luck. Always a popular item.
2012 Calendar -- Famous Castles of Japan (Film Version)
Other Amazing 2012 Japanese Calendars Click to see the other gorgeous calendars we've posted for you. I'll be getting this film calendar of famous Japanese castles, personally.
goth Bible Reserve Subscription
Gothic & Lolita Bible Reserve Subscription Remember that J-List offers popular magazine subscriptions direct from Japan, like the awesome Gothic & Lolita Bible, one of our most popular magazines.
Raquel Gothic 1/6 Figure by Vispo **Preorder**
Raquel Gothic Figures by Vispo Speaking of gothic lolita, words don't describe how awesome these Vispo-sculpted figures are. Almost sold out...
Cosplay in America
Cosplay in America Here's a great book for fans of anime cosplay, a thick glossy book with gorgeous printing showing the best cosplay by fans in the USA!
High School Briefcase Bookbag
Authentic School Briefcase Our most popular Japanese school bag is restocked today. An awesome way to carry your books to school in, or complete that special cosplay.
Socks Glue
'Socks Glue' is Restocked Keep those awesome Japanese socks from sliding down your left with water-based "socks glue" from Japan. Make your own Absolute Zone!
3 Summer Tops Set  Light Gray
3 Summer Tops Sets Restocked Our popular 3 Summer Tops Sets are back with a new color. We think you'll agree that this extra kawaii fashion is great for summer.
Totoro Plush *Smile* -- Small
Restocked Totoro Plush Toys Totoro loves the summer, with the fresh air and warm breezes. Take him home, or one of the many other great Ghibli characters we have in stock.
Castle in the Sky Laputa (Blu-ray Disc)
Studio Ghibli Films on Blu-ray Speaking of Ghibli, true fans will want to get their hands on the subtitled films, Laputa, Whisper of the Heart and The Borrower Arrietty.
Mousse-chan  Fuwa Fuwa Paper Clay Set  Let's Make Original Sweet's House
Mousse-chan Fuwa Fuwa Paper Clay Set See a fun restocking of the Fuwa Fuwa Mousse-chan Paper Clay toys, air-drying clay and molds you can use to make great toys, or anything!
Solar Game and Watch Mini Strap Display -- Parachute
Fun Electronic Toys from Japan There are plenty of fun electronic toys from Japan at J-List, like the classic Nintendo Game and Watch keychain, so much fun to play.
Japanese Carp Men's Cotton Yukata  Size XL
We've got some awesome traditional yukata and kimono available, like this newly added Japanese Koi patterned one for men. Great for wearing to that special summer convention, or wear them around the house.
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Glico Pretz -- Sudachi (Japanese Lime) Flavor
New Japanese Snacks for All Superb new J-snacks today, including Pretz in Japanese Lime, awesome (non-fry) Potelong snacks in Wasabi flavor, plus new Jagariko treats.
DIY Sushi Candy
Popin' Cookin' DIY Sushi Restocked Also, we've restocked the popular Popin' Cookin' Japanese sushi candy that you make yourself. Click to view the YouTube video that shows how.
Kyoto Candy -- Kyou Nishiki
Awesome Traditional Kyoto Candy Traditional Japanese candies from Kyoto are also restocked -- what a great way to enjoy a new side of Japan, its candy culture!
Lotte Acuo Powder Blue Sparkling Gum
Restocked Snacks & Gum Also: awesome Meiji Poiful jellybeans, Morinaga Caramels, new Hi-Chew flavors, Wata Pachi, plus...the official gum of Suzumiya Haruhi?
ASCII Art Bento - 2-tier Tight Box KITA
ASCII Art Bento - 2-tier Tight Box Collect all three parts to this ASCII Art Bento set before they sell out. We love these kind of Japanese kaomoji art, which is so popular online.
Lunch-de-DON Bowl (DONBURI) Type Bento Box
Lunch-de-DON Bowl Type Bento Box We love it when a bento box is innovatively designed, and that certainly applies to the Lunch-de-DON rice bowl-style bento boxes.
Pan Pita  Square  Push Style Sandwich Maker
Random Kitchen Products Restocked Sandwiches can come in all shapes and sizes, thanks to these nifty kitchen products. Also silicon shapers and nori (seaweed) face makers.
NINJA Shuriken Ice Tray
Ninja Shuriken Ice Cube Trays A ninja is always prepared and would never be caught off guard, especially when a party is going to start. Who thought ice cubes could be so fun?
Chibi Maruko chan Kanji Dictionary 2
Fun Japanese Study Aids There are only 102 days until the Japanese Language Proficiency Test is held. Are you ready? Many study products restocked today!
Lucky Cat Family Double Hands  Display
Kawaii Lucky Cat Display Items Restocked Bring some extra good luck to your life with these neat neko (cat) charms, newly restocked and ready to be taken home.
The World God Only Knows Mascot Strap Designed by PoyoyonRock Set of 4 **Preorder**
The World God Only Knows Mascot Straps *Preorder* Get Elsie, Takahara Ayumi, Nakagawa Kanon and Shiori Shiomiya in this set of cool straps, ready for preorder. Kamisama, I love these.
Evangelion 2.0 Premium Figure Seat of the Soul Vol.2 Set of 2 Rei  Mari **Preorder**
Evangelion 2.0 Premium Figure *Preorder* Check out what just came in. These new preorder figures feature Rei and Mari in their Eva cockpits, ready to be deployed into your home.
Ano Hana 'Petan-ko' Rubber Strap Set of 10 **Preorder**
Ano Hana 'Petan-ko' Rubber Strap Set *Preorder* Here's one all fans of AnoHana will want: a deluxe set of high quality character keychain straps, featuring all your favorite characters. Menma mitsuketa!
2012 Calendar -- Aki Hoshino
2012 Calendar ~ Aki Hoshino  Fans of Aki Hoshino, the 30s model who still looks 20, will want to get their hands on this excellent poster calendar to make 2012 more sexy.
PIECES 7  HELL HOUND 01 and 02  **preorder**  -- Masamune Shirow
PIECES 7 ~ HELL HOUND 01 and 02 Take home the infamous artwork of the extremely talented Masamune Shirow -- tons of mecha girls, cyborgs and anything else cyberpunk.
Vibe Toy's Kun
The Japanese never fail to be creative, and here's a fun new personal massager that is as cute as he is eager to please you after a hard day at work. A fantastic new creation from ToysHeart, based in Sendai, Japan. Meaning that, should wish to pitch in and help Northern Japan recover, you have this rather pleasant option available to you. Just sayin'.
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Bible Black 09 -- Hiroko Takashiro Cup
Bible Black Stress Toys Take out your daily stress with the help of the characters from Bible Black with these onna cups designed to give an experience unique to each character.
Mamasen Special Ona-Hole with Drama CD
More Stress Toys Restocked Whether it's from work, family or the fact that your favorite anime still doesn't have a second season! (sigh) we've got what you need to chill out.
Real Kanojo
Restocked Eroge from Japan Also: a healthy restocking of import eroge incl. Real Kanojo and Sexy Beach 555, Ama Futa Mata Sandwich, Virtual Character Trouble.
Cosplay Academy
Recommended Eroge: Cosplay Academy People ask me to recommend eroge in English a lot, and one I like is this super cosplay game by the artist of the Raidy series.