Friday, September 16, 2011

Count vs Non-Count Nouns in Japanese

All in all, "here are your gums" is not something you'd expect to hear outside a discussion of orthodontics, but a Japanese friend of mine said it to me once. She was handing me a big bag of gum I'd bought that day, and had assumed that since each piece of gum was individually wrapped, it was proper to pluralize the word. Without a doubt, telling which nouns can be counted (one apple, two cars) from ones that must be organized into groups first (one bag of gum, three pieces of furniture) is a big challenge for Japanese learners of English. Not only is there no direct differentiation between count and non-count nouns, you don't even need to mark plural vs. singular words, unless you need to be specific for some reason. Although kanji is the single most difficult thing to learn about Japanese for us, there are many examples in Japanese grammar where things are simpler than they are in English, which is fine by me.

There's no difference between count and non-count nouns in Japanese. And no plurals.

Lazy Japanese Net Users Love Twitter

In addition to our popular Facebook page and the Tumblr I launched a few months ago, I have a fairly active Twitter feed, where I can chat and exchange ideas with readers from all over the world. Twitter has been a big success here in Japan, and every month 10 million users visit the Twitter homepage, representing 1.5% of the company's users worldwide. I think Twitter has a lot to offer Japanese users. First, it's ridiculously easy to use, unlike the more complex social networking site Mixi or video site Nicodouga, and it preserves anonymity, which is a must for Japanese users. Tweeting is a non-threatening way for Japanese users to practice their English with gaijin, or vice versa. While it's quite easy to fit a lot of information into Twitter's 140 character limit due the compactness of information in Japanese sentences, the character limit gives users an excuse to be extra lazy, using abbreviations like KTKR for kita kore or "this is it, I've been waiting for this." One of the most popular terms on Twitter is the word nau, that is, the English word "now" written in hiragana rather than katakana as it should properly be, and the meaning is basically, "I'm currently at this location..." Incidentally, we've got a wacky Twitter cushion with the word nau on it, if you want to be like Japanese Internet uses.

Twitter is a hit with lazy Japanese net users.

Steins;Gate Thoughts

Well the Steins;Gate TV series has finally ended, and I enjoyed it a lot. As a card-carrying fan of any hardcore science fiction story involving time travel it was an outstanding show, with many dramatic twists and turns that only Nitroplus -- the creators of some of the most awesome visual novels ever, including the Cthulhu-themed eroge Demonbane and the available-for-preorder Song of Saya -- could have brought us. Besides single-handedly popularizing Dr. Pepper with Japan's otaku class, the show has raised the bar for elegant sci-fi in anime forever. My son has played the Japanese version of the game already, and he's been filling me in on all the alternative endings that aren't in the anime. (Incidentally, we've got the Japanese PC version on the site for order, if you're curious about those other endings.)

Steins;Gate was a satisfying anime series.

Time To Start Thinking about Halloween?

J-List would like to remind you that Halloween is not far off, and to help you keep that in mind we're posting some fun anime cosplay products, like the new Evangelion Plugsuits One Piece uniforms in three colors, kawaii cat ears plus the first Halloween limited edition chocolates from Japan. Click to browse all cosplay items now!

Cool Products Friday, September 16, 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.
Animedia Oct 2011
Known for bringing exclusive scoops from the artists and designers behind all your favorite anime series, get the inside scoop on current new shows from Japan with this great issue! This issue comes with some great omake the we know you want.
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Figure Maniacs Otomegumi vol. 44 2011
Figure Maniacs Otomegumi vol. 44 2011 One of our favorite magazines is Figure Maniacs, which is dedicated to documenting every gorgeous anime figure that's released by the major toy makers.
Now (Nau) Twitter Cushion
Now (Nau) Twitter Cushion Just found a great pillow that any fan of twitter will want to have on their bed or couch. Taking one home tonight.
Japanese T-Shirt -- Dark Side of the Nyan Cat
Japanese T-Shirt ~ Dark Side of the Nyan Cat Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan NyanNyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan Nyan NyanNyan Nyan Nyan!
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan Mint  size M
Restocked Shimapan A huge restocking of popular shimapan striped anime panties in all colors. Will you choose blue, green, pink or...?
Macross Frontier Chara-Con  Klan Klan / TOYOTA SUPRA
Fans of cars and Macross are going to have an otaku-gasm over these awesome remote controlled cars that are modeled after real Japanese cars that you can customize with great Macross Frontier decals. Drive them around and race or display the cool itasha cars in your room.
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Macross Frontier the Movie  Sayonara no Tsubasa -- Hybrid Pack Super-Dimensional Special Edition (Blu-ray Disc) ***Pre-Order***
Macross Frontier Movie 2 w/PS3 Game *Pre-Order* This is great: the 2nd Macross Frontier movie coming on Blu-ray, and it comes with the full version of the PS3 Macross game (which is great)!!
Kyubei Business Card Holder 'Make a Contract with Me' **Preorder**
'Make a Contract with Me' Card Holder We don't know how effective Kyubey's often said words will be in your business, but this business card case featuring Kyubey is just awesome.
Totoro 2012 Schedule Book -- Embroidered Patch **Preorder**
The New Totoro 2012 Schedule Books Great news! We've gotten the first of the 2012 Ghibli and Totoro Schedule Books in, ready for immediate ordering. Totoro, Cat Bus, Kiki and Laputa.
Capcom Girls Calendar 2012 **Preorder**
Capcom Girls & Hero Calendar 2012 looks to be a great year, and it is sure to be a better year if you've got one of these great Capcom character calendars.
2012 Calendar -- Ayumi Hamasaki **Preorder**
2012 JPOP & KPOP Calendars JPOP stars like Ayumi Hamasaki, Koda Kumi, and Morning Musume, plus the top KPOP stars active in Japan!
2012 Calendar -- Chiaki Takahashi **Preorder**
Kawaii Idol & Actress Calendars for 2012 J-cuties like Chiaki Takasashi, Maomi Yuuki, Riko Marumi, Nanao, Haruka Ayase, and Saki Aibu.
Evangelion Costume Party -- Asuka
Evangelion Costume Party ~ Asuka, Rei, Mari Become a plugsuit pin-up model at your next costume party with one of these amazing Evangelion-style dresses. Great for Halloween!
Touhou Project  Undefined Fantastic Object
Restocked Touhou Games Fans of Touhou Project can now get all the original games here at J-List, and play these great shooters with downloadable fan translation patches!
Pikachu Pokemon Best Wish Plush
We Love Pokemon We love Pokemon here at J-List, and stock dozens of products. The new plush toys we restocked are very kawaii.
Totoro Wooden Music Box
Wooden Totoro Music Box Restocked One of my favorite J-List products is this wooden music box that hides a dancing Totoro when you open it. You can store you jewelry or other stuff inside.
Bee Kawaii earphone  Pink
Awesome Earphones from Japan Those darling bee-shaped earphones are back in stock, too. They're fully compatible with any music player you may have, and are cute as heck.
Germanium Detox  Relax Foot Sheet
Interesting Health Items Restocked We've got some fun Japanese health items restocked, incl. the Celnon Body Massage Brush for Cellulite, Germanium Detox & Relax Foot Sheet and more.
Lotte Toppo Halloween ver.
Chocolate is starting to ship out, just in time for Halloween. All of today's new snacks feature Halloween designs -- great snacks for next month. Take your pick of delicious Toppo or the always fun Koala's March!
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Meiji Karl -- Pumpkin Soup Flavor (Curl)
Meiji Karl ~ Pumpkin Soup Flavor (Curl) "Curl" are the curly corn snacks from Meiji that always settle an appetite for something crunchy between meals. Halloween limited edition.
FritoLay Doritos -- Mix Vegetable and Consomme
Restocked Snacks, Too Authentic FritoLay Japan Doritos and Cheetos flavors, Japan only Mentos, Wasabi Pretz, Turant Habanero snacks, plus Glico Cratz beer snacks!
CUSTOM MODE Green Volume 2 tier Bento Box with Chopsticks
CUSTOM MODE Volume Bento Set A great bento box for men, designed with a sleek modern shape and plenty of storage for those with a hefty appetite. Two different colors restocked today.
Kawaii Bento Boxes
Kawaii Bento Boxes See fresh stock of our English-language bento book which will have you making awesome kawaii bento lunches in no time.
The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook: 1800 Sentences for Everyday Use Incl. CD
The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook Restocked Japanese study books, too, including the best phrase book we've seen, and a guide for building vocabulary in Japanese.
Basic Kanji Drill New -- 2nd Grade
Japanese Study Books Restocked Then: fresh stock of the Japanese kanji drill books used by Japanese children, with several back in stock. Study like the Japanese do!
White Lucky Cat Tea Cup
Lucky Cat Tea Cups Restocked Awesome: those Lucky Cat tea cups, which can be displayed as art objects of turned upside down to drink tea from, are back.
NYAN-PON  Lucky Cat Pair Netsuke
Fun Traditional Phone Straps, More We've also restocked some of our most kawaii traditional phone straps (aka netsuke), incl. Lucky Cat, Lucky Rabbit and more.
Japanese T-Shirt - 'Fight The Power'
Japanese T-Shirt - 'Fight The Power' J-List has awesome original T-shirts featuring anime and kanji designs. This shirt strikes a blow against censorship. Row, row, fight the power!
Moka Akashia 3D Oppai Mouse Pad  Rosario  + Vampire **Preorder**
Rosario + Vampire Oppai Mouse Pads *Preorder* Fighting carpal tunnel syndrome never felt so good with the help of an oppai mouse pad, like these great preorders of Rosario + Vampire.
Nendoroid Petite ClariS Set irony ver. **Preorder**
Nendoroid Petite ClariS Set *Preorder* The starlet JPOP duet who perform the song "irony" from Ore no Imouto now have their own figures from Nendoroid. Cool.
Aigis 1/6 Figure ART WORKS ver.  Persona3 **Preorder**
Aigis 1/6 Figure ART WORKS ver. ~ Persona3 *Preorder* We've got some great ART WORKS figures in today that we know that you'll want to have after you take a quick look that them, like this Person3 figure.
Ching Came Golden Best!
I am a huge fan of the elegant grace and beauty of the Ching Came series of photobooks, which capture the most beautiful women in elegant and fashionable poses. This book series is so popular, thousands of female fans collect them, in addition to guys.
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2012 Calendar -- Sarah **Preorder**
Awesome Ero Calendars for JAV Fans Put up some high-quality photo print calendars of the hottest girls in Japan, who want to show you their silky smooth bodies all year long.
Shizune Futou 1/6 Cast off Figure  Oshioki Sweetie **Preorder**
Shizune Futou 1/6 Cast-Off Figure *Preorder* We have some very special cast-off figures coming out soon that are ready for preorder now, like this excellently detailed Shizune Futou from Oshioki Sweetie.
Twins Sister Sandwich  Chihiro
Twins Sister Sandwich Restocked Then see fresh stock of one of our favorite stress toys, which will relieve your stress in three different ways.
Everhole : 2.22  Rei Mizuna
Everhole : 2.22 ~ Rei Mizuna Evangelion fans apparently love the new Mari parody toy, because it sold out in record time. Here is fresh stock. "Smells good...smells like LCL."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Learning the Japanese Words Behind English Ones

A couple of posts ago I mentioned a funny scene in the Nichijou anime in which Yuko and Mio try to avoid using English words, which can be difficult as there are a lot of them in daily use. This is a Very Good Thing for native English speakers, as it means that 10-15% of the words you're likely to use on a daily basis are already in place in your mind, even though you may need to get used to "English" terms like "rinse in shampoo" (which means conditioning shampoo). Still, a funny thing happens when you study Japanese long enough: you start encountering Japanese versions of these English words. For example, most Japanese would use the word "kiss" in English, and yet it's not that uncommon to encounter the original Japanese word (seppun) in a novel which was trying to sound more literary. The English word "pink" is used in Japan, but someone might use the word momo-iro ("peach colored") instead, for aesthetic reasons. If you needed a Phillips head screwdriver these days you'd ask for a purasu doraiba or a "plus driver," but older Japanese wouldn't know what this newfangled word meant, so you'd have to ask them for a neji-mawashi instead.

Otaku: Good Term or Bad?

The other day I caught a CNN blog post about the term otaku, and whether it was a positive or negative label in Japan -- arigatou for the link to J-List, guys! Originally a formal word which means "you" or "your family," the word otaku came to describe people who pursue their hobbies -- generally manga, anime and related media -- to the point of obsession. As a general rule, non-Japanese who grew up after the release of the Space Invaders coin-op game in June 1978 -- which I define as "the point when everything cool started flowing from Japan" -- will probably have a positive view of the term otaku, but in Japan this is not always the case. Here the word often carries a negative connotation, despite the recent rise in famous personalities like Shoko Nakagawa, Kill Bill star Chiaki Kurimiya and Gackt being open about their otaku lifestyle. While I would probably advise most gaijin who deal with Japanese people to get to know them a bit before "coming out of the closet," you probably won't need to: these days, Japanese practically expect any given foreigner they encounter to be extremely knowledgable about all forms of Japanese pop culture. Maybe what we need is a new word that doesn't have a negative meaning. Perhaps something like tsuu (aficionado, used to refer to the most passionate fans of Kabuki or Takarazuka theatre), or "mania" (a lightly softer term for someone who really loves their hobby, e.g. tetsudo mania for "railfan").

Konata is my favorite otaku. Who's yours?

iPhone Stuff @ J-List

J-List carries fun iPhone and other products from Japan. We love the Poddities carabiners and attachable leather cases, which are an outstanding concept from one of our favorite Japanese companies. We've got tons of awesome anime-themed headphones and earphones, including the official Monster Hunter headphones. Finally, we've got a great way to turn any iPhone or compatible sized phone into a full sized telephones, with the Smart Handy Phone dock. So awesome!

Being Sick in Japan

I managed to catch a natsu-kaze or "summer cold" which has knocked me out for the past couple of days, so I thought I'd write about what it's like to be sick in Japan. I went to the doctor and was given several envelopes of prescription medicines including antibiotics, congestion medication, plus this awful powder you have to swallow. (I noted that the dispensing nurse took care to explain what each type of medicine was for, which is a fairly new development that I believe came about due to foreigners living here and asking for specific information that Japanese patients never thought to inquire about.) When Japanese get sick they eat a watery rice porridge called okayu, and most Japanese detest Western-style oatmeal since it seems like something sick people should be eating. There's a whole slew of local cold remedies here, my favorite of which involves boiling a leek until its soft, folding it inside a tenugui (a traditional hand towel from old Japan), then wrapping it around one's neck and going to bed. Other ways to beat a cold include shoga-yu, hot water with grated fresh ginger in it and a little honey to improve the taste, or tamago-zake, or a raw egg added to hot sake. My preferred way of curing a cold is to put one of those Japanese fever-reducing sheets on my head then curl up in front of the TV to watch a few hours or anime.

There's a lot of moe art about being sick, for some reason.

Cool Products Wednesday, September 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.
egg Oct 2011 volume 180
Keep up on all the hottest fashion news with the newest issue of egg Magazine, a girl's #1 stop for Shibuya fashion advice. Egg is the #1 selling Japanese fashion magazine at J-List, and our customers love the awesome pictures and fashion ideas found inside.
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Comic Rex Oct 2011
Comic Rex Oct 2011 We couldn't think of a cooler name for a monthly manga magazine, that always has great series to follow, all with furigana written with the Kanji.
2012 Calendar -- Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai **Preorder**
More 2012 Anime Calendars Posted All the hottest animes of 2011 are getting calendars for 2012, like Ano Hana, Blue Exorcist, Kokuriko-saka Kara and more.
2012 Calendar -- Nozomi Sasaki **preorder**
Gorgeous Japanese Idol & Actress Calendars And 2012 just won't be as wonderful without your favorite cutie on the wall greeting you everyday. Check out our newest preorders.
Miku Hatsune Pitamin
Miku Hatsune Pitamin Stress Toy You can squish her, you can poke her, you can even hug her. This squeezable office stress toy of Miku is something we know you want.
Ningen Gakki
Ningen Gakki Restocked An interactive toy that generates sounds when your body completes the circuit. Great for parties or for, um, couples.
Black Rock Shooter Strength 1/8 Figure -animation version- **Preorder**
Black Rock Shooter Strength 1/8 Figure That gorgeous 1/8 scale figure of Strength from the Black Rock Shooter anime has finally come in, and she's a beautiful creation indeed.
Bleach iPhone 4 Cover **Preorder**
iPhone 4 Accessories We're happy to report we've gotten in the new Bleach iPhone 4 case, and it's lovely. Browse our iPhone 4 cases as they'll be disappearing soon.
One Piece Character Bento Book
One Piece Character Bento Book Spice up your lunch with the pirate characters from One Piece. Comes with awesome bento ideas plus silicon molds!
Japanese Style Eye Patch for Anime Cosplay - Evangelion
Japanese Eye Patch for Cosplay Enjoy our wacky eye patch for Evangelion or Ikki Tousen cosplay, with the restocking of one of our favorite cosplay products.
TATAMI  SETTA Sandal w/ Black Strap  Size XL
Great 'Tatami' Sandals Restocked Your feet will feel like they are walking though Kyoto with these relaxing and comfortable traditional sandals. Large size for gaijin too!
Horse Head Mask
Suddenly...Horse Head! This crazy cosplay item is just so wacky, so scary that we couldn't pass it up. Make a big impression at your next party with it.
Shimapan Dream  Magenta M
New Shimapan Discount Great news for fans of shimapan striped panties: you can now get a discount if you buy several sets together!
Pretty Angel - Black and Purple Striped Socks (Stockings)
More Awesome Japanese Striped Socks These knee-high socks are really popular this year, undoubtedly due to the smash hit "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt."
Exride GANTZ BIKE for Figma Figure **Preorder**
Exride GANTZ BIKE, Mega Man We have a slick motorcycle from GANTZ that any Figma can ride, plus a new Mega Man figure you will love.
'Oreimo' Yunomi Type.B  Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
'Oreimo' Green Tea Cups Enjoy your Japanese tea with the characters from the awesome show. Quantities limited, sorry if this sells out.
Cooling Pad for Fever  Netsu Sama Sheet
Cooling Pad for Fever ~ Netsu Sama Sheet Beat colds this winter with netsu-sama sheet fever reducing sheets. Any girl you attach them to will become 100% more moe.
'I Like What I Like' - Girl's Fitted
Awesome T-Shirts for Girls, Too In addition to our standard shirts, we have a line of popular girl's fitted tees, like, "I Like What I Like So Get Off My Back" (which we got from a BL game).
Meiji Qun Gummy -- Lime Flavor
Enjoy super tart QUN Gummy, new "Coffee Jelly In" Country Ma'am cookies, plus amazing cooked macaroni snacks you can munch out of the can. It's always fun to discover new Japanese snacks at J-List!
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Kracie Furidama Kit - Ramune Flavor
Restocked Snacks from Japan Enjoy the Furidama gummy ball from the makers of Popin' Cookin,' Hi-Chew in Melon flavor, Meiji Chocolate Mint Gum, Sours Ramune Gummy, and more.
Let's Make Eraser with Microwave  Cake
Let's Make Eraser with Microwave Restocked The Japanese are very creative, and we've restocked the Let's Make Eraser with Microwave series, which lets you melt and create erasers!
Carved Wooden Lacquered  2 Tier Bento Box  Elastic Band  Ume / Japanese Plum
We Love Traditional Bento See two gorgeous bento boxes restocked today, incl. Mt Fuji & Rabbits Lacquered bento and Carved Wooden Bento. Fully microwave safe!
Rabbit Slim Thermos Bottle 250ml  Black
Rabbit Slim Thermos Bottle 250ml ~ Black Speaking of rabbits, this slim thermos will keep your drink hot or cold and look cute doing it! A simple, elegant design for fans of Japanese art.
Niko Niko Punch 3 -- Face Bento Decoration
Nori Punches Restocked. Too The nori punches that let you make cute faces on your rice balls, decorate bento and more -- restocked! Extremely popular with J-List customers.
eco green japan
KATAMETE-PON ~ ECO Powder to Dispose Oil "Eco powder" that you sprinkle over oil you've used, and it becomes hard instantly, so you can throw it away without harming the environment.
School Girl Complex
Gorgeous New Photobook Explore the ero of the school uniform in this photo book emphasizing the beauty of the female form in an artistic cosplay setting.
Genki I (Second Edition) Textbook  An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 Textbook
Big Restocking of Japanese Study  Whether you want to learn just a little Japanese or go for level 1 of the JLPT, J-List is here for you. The Genki textbooks are all restocked today.
Japanese T-Shirt 'Yandere Girl Tribute' (Standard Men's)
J-List's 'Yandere' T-Shirt One of my favorite shirts, a "Yandere" shirt for fans of anime girls who love you so much, they'd kill you. A fun shirt with lots of kanji.
Yuzen TATAMI Mouse Pad  Dark Blue, Black
Yuzen TATAMI Mouse Pad Make your workspace into a wafu (Japanese-style) center of peace and tranquility with this bamboo mouse pad.
Red Mari Gauze Towel
Red Mari Gauze Towel Wrap it around your neck, or use it in the shower, this elegantly styled towel has a great flare of the traditional Japanese artistic senses.
Rabbit Moon Style Soup Bowl  Mochitsuki Type
Fun Traditional Products Restocked Then enjoy some of our best bento accessories and kitchen items, including newly restocked miso soup bowls, a traditional flat marbles game and more.
Astraea 1/7 Figure Swimsuits ver.  Sora no Otoshmono **Preorder**
Astraea 1/7 Figure ~ Swimsuits ver. *Preorder* This beautiful figure from the series Sora no Otoshimono, has such fine detail, it looks just fantastic. Beautifully pre-painted.
Chris Makise 1/10 Figure Beach Queen  Steins;Gate **Preorder**
More Awesome Beach Queen Figures Add a few more awesome babes to your Beach Queen series collection. Enjoy Kurisu from Steins;Gate or Houki from Infinite Stratos.
2012 Calendar -- Miyuki Yokoyama **Preorder**
Sexy Ero Calendars Posted, Too Make 2012 the sexiest year yet, with one (or more) of these hot calendars features beautiful nude gravure photos on large format printing.
Love Body Ren
Adult Toys and Dolls Restocked The Japanese love finding new ways of making the time-old act of loving more fun. See our Love Body Ren, Pururun Angel Bust and more!
Tsun Ero
Anime Stress Toys Also, some fun products for fans of "parody" anime onahole toys. K-On, Kagami from Toradora, plus more for you to discover.
Rance Quest
Rance Quest "I would play this for its gameplay alone, even without its ecchi scenes," says our in-house game guy. An amazing series to enjoy.
Houkago Custom Time  Customize Lovers
More H-Games from Japan Also, Gyakushu, Sengoku Tenshi Djibril, Houkago Custom Time, Do Love Me Seriously and other great import eroge.