Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting Ready for Chocolate Season in Japan

Valentine's Day is not far-off, and Japan is starting to get into "chocolate mode," with lots of TV news pieces discussing the trends in chocolate this year. For reasons unique to Japan, February 14th has become a day for women to show their devotion to the men in their lives by giving them chocolate, a custom I'm rather happy with, being a guy and all. For casual giving there are hundreds of prepackaged chocolate gift boxes sold in stores, and often female office workers will give small boxes of giri choco or "obligation chocolate" to male co-workers or bosses to make them feel happy. Girlfriends, wives and daughters will often make handmade chocolates for their special men to show their love and thank them for working hard. If you'd like to give this a try this year, we've got a selection of chocolate molds and related products that you can pour melted chocolate or cake mix into, and J-List also sells dozens of amazing chocolate treats from Japan, from Japan-only Kit Kat varieties to Pocky and much more.

Japan is starting to think about chocolate.

Why You Should Learn Japanese Using Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji

When I was at Narita last week I went into a bookshop to browse for Japan-related books we might want to carry on the site. I picked up one book on Japanese grammar but put it back on the shelf immediately, as it was a book I knew I'd never want to sell on J-List. The reason was that the book taught Japanese using romaji, that is Romanized Japanese, or Japanese sentences written using the English alphabet rather than hiragana, katakana and kanji. The reason learning from a book that teaches you through Romanized Japanese is bad is that your brain has difficulty separating the rules of English pronunciation from Japanese, and this will greatly harm your ability to speak the language naturally. Near J-List there's a river called the Tone River, pronounced "toh-nay," but if you learn the name through romaji rather than proper written Japanese because you might pronounce it "tone" like the English word. In English we have "silent e" on the ends of many words, which the Japanese call "the magic e" (maho no E) by the way, but this would get in the way of saying the family name of Mami Tomoe from Madoka Magika correctly (it's toh-mo-eh, not toh-mo). Finally the number 10,000 is used in Japanese a lot, since it's the basic unit in the Sino-Japanese numeric system, but if you read ichi man in Romanized Japanese you're likely to pronounce it like "itchy man" rather than "ee-chi mahn." This is why we recommend books like the Genki series and White Rabbit kanji cards which force your brain to learn properly using kana and kanji, or books that at least offer both on the page, like the Hello Kitty bilingual guide book we posted today.

Moe Moe Presisdent Ohama Jokes

Remember that download orders for our popular eroge visual novel My Girlfriend is the President are open now, so you can choose between a fast and convenient Internet Download edition version of the game, or go for the shrinkwrapped game in DVD-ROM format. Enjoy the hijinks of your girlfriend President Ohama, the super-cute Russian President Putina, a moe starship called Ell, and more! Click here to see English-translated eroge available by download.

Remember the J-List 2012 Calendar Sale

More good news: we're having a an awesome sale on all our 2012 anime, JPOP, Japanese idol and ecchi calendars. Now we're having a great sale which lets you buy one Japanese calendar and get the second one for half off (total discount is 25% off the total of any 2 or more calendars, allowing you to get as many as you like and get the discounted price). Want to score one of this year's Lucky Cat traditional art calendars before they're gone, or spend a year with the awesome girls of illustrator Tony Taka on your wall? Now's your chance, before the calendars you want are gone forever.

The End of TV "Jidai Geki" Period Dramas in Japan?

One aspect of Japan I've always been impressed with is the way popular culture is closely tied to history in the form of jidai geki or samurai period dramas, which is incidentally where we get the word "Jedi" from. It's not at all strange for an average Japanese person interested in modern forms of media like anime and video games to also love watching intense stories about historical figures in the Edo Period. Sadly, the last few decades have seen the decline in commercially produced jidai geki on television, with the number of weekly shows falling from a peak of 32 in 1972 to just one today, as Japanese viewers get older and sponsors show less interest in funding the programs. Long gone are such gritty classics as the blind swordsman Zatoichi, or Lone Wolf and Cub, the tale of a man whose family is killed, forcing him to flee with his young son. Even the venerable Mito Komon, the tale of a Japanese lord who roams Japan disguised as a kimono cloth merchant solving problems for people he meets and dispensing the Shogun's justice, ended last month after an incredible 42 year run. Although commercially-produced period dramas have fallen on hard times, they're alive and well over at NHK, Japan's version of the BBC, where shows like the massive-budget Taiga Drama are made every year.

Sadly, the era of broadcast period dramas has ended.

Cool Products Friday, January 13, 2012

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.
Newtype Feb 2012
It's time for a new issue of Newtype, the number one magazine for fans of awesome anime and moe girls. Get an exclusive look at the new season of anime, with shows like Aquarion EVOL and Guilty Crown, plus the upcoming Nanoha A's and Eureka 7 movies. And of course, you also get free stuff in the form of posters, calendars, and more!
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Comptiq Feb 2012
Comptiq Feb 2012 Check out the latest issue of Comptiq, another awesome magazine for fans of moe anime and games. Get a free Lucky Star calendar and more!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Collection (Set of 5)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Collection The complete collection of Madoka Magica gashapon figures is now in stock. Get Madoka, Homura, Mami, Sayaka, and everyone's favorite, Kyubey!
Arsene 1/8 Figure  Tantei Opera Milky Holmes **Preorder**
Arsene ~ Tantei Opera Milky Holmes  Fans of Milky Holmes are going to be amazed when they finally get their hands on this Arsene. Also enjoy a Final Fantasy XIII-2 figure.
Revoltech No.071 Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann *Preorder*
Revoltech, Figma Figures In Stock You'll love these awesome new action figures, featuring Robocop, Hatsune Miku, and three versions of Gurren Lagann!
I Have Few Friends - Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 1  (Blu-ray Disc)
I Have Few Friends vol. 1 (Blu-ray Disc) Grab the first volume of Haganai on Blu-ray and enjoy tons of special features, including a limited edition artbook and drama CD. A collector's dream!
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st Visual Collection (Jyo)
Restocked Anime Artbooks Super anime-kei artbooks restocked today, incl. the Nanoha the Movie 1st Visual Book, the Bungaku Shojo artbook and...oppai?
2012 Calendar -- Evanglion 2.0 **Preorder**
2012 Anime Calendars On Sale! We're loaded with epic anime calendars right now, including the 2012 Evangelion calendar. We posted interior pictures today, and they are gorgeous!
The Perpetual Calendar
Perpetual Calendar Restocked That "eternal calendar" that can be used year after year is restocked -- it's stylish and awesome and would go well in your room or office.
Japanese Hoodie - Sakamoto Nyan
You'll love this original J-List hoodie featuring Sakamoto Nyan, the cutest and most lovable kitty this side of Japan, and naturally made with high quality sweatshirts, not the inferior blends you see in shops. This is a limited hoody so you should pick one up before they sell out. Another great original J-List product, made in the USA.
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iTunes Japan Music Card
Random iTunes Japan Links It's fun to look for random things on the iTunes Japan store, like traditional enka tunes or the dreamy music from Ghost in the Shell: SOC.
Totoro Soft Half Blanket 100 x 140 cm w/Box
Awesome Totoro Blankets Restocked Every year the super-soft Totoro blankets we sell drive customers to say things like, "I can't believe how soft and warm it is. Thank you J-List!"
Kanji Test for 2.5 Millions  Premium
Nintendo DS Software to Learn Japanese Great Japanese study software for the DS restocked, including Kanji Test DS 3, Kanji Test for 2.5 Millions, Kanji Training, Perfect Kanji and more.
Pilot FRIXION PEN 3 colors Set  / Magical Erasable Pen Set of Black  Blue  Red
New Japanese Pens, Awesome Camera Case Our new Pilot FRIXION pen is an erasable ballpoint, perfect for taking notes. We also have a stylish camera case that all your friends will envy.
Yubisashi x Hello Kitty JAPAN English Edition
Yubisashi x Hello Kitty JAPAN English Edition Let the eternally adorable Hello Kitty be your guide to Japan with this great bilingual phrase book and study aid.
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 (kinds various).
Nestle Kit Kat Sakura Matcha Latte **Preorder**
Nestle Kit Kat Sakura Matcha Latte *Preorder* The latest flavor of Kit Kat is green tea latte with a touch of cherry blossom, for the cultured palate. A seasonal special, so get it while it lasts!
Glico Winter Pocky Coffee (Set of 3)
Glico Winter Pocky Coffee (Set of 3) There's always a new flavor of Pocky to try. Grab these winter-exclusive sticks for a rich chocolate taste with a hint of coffee. The rage in Japan.
Kracie Neru Neru Nerune -- Ramune Flavor (Nerunerunerune) Set of 3
Neru Neru Nerune Restocked, Too Then see Ramune Neru Neru Nerune, the bizarre Japanese powdered candy you mix and eat. It's fun and very random! Brought to you by Kracie.
Yokohama Limited Kit Kat Strawberry Cheese Cake
Restocked Japanese Snacks, incl. Kit Kat! Japan's Kit Kat flavors are famous all around the world, and we've got them all, from Kyoto Green Tea to Yokohama Strawberry Cheese Cake!
Red WAON Bento Box Set  Square 2 tier Bento Box  Chopsticks  Bento Bag
Traditional-Modern Bento Boxes Big restocking of several bento boxes today, including the WAON Traditional + Modern and Kerria Ellipsoidal Genuine Lacquered bentos boxes.
New SAND de PANDA -- Heart  Push Style Easy Sandwich Maker
Push Style Easy Sandwich Maker (Heart) Nothing makes a child smile more than a handmade sandwich in the shape of a heart. Of course many adults find it cute as fun as well.
Microwave Petit Taiyaki Maker
Microwave Taiyaki Maker Takoyaki Makers Discover some amazing cooking that is also easy, thanks to the miracle of the microwave oven. Taiyaki and Takoyaki are restocked today.
DECOLE Manmaru Panda Mug Cup  Spoon
Ridiculously Frog & Panda Mug Cups, More We defy anyone to find a cuter panda or frog coffee cup than the awesome ones we're restocking today. Other cute kitchen items posted as well.
Tabi-no-yado 5 Famous Japanese Onsen Bath Salt Set  15 packages, Noboribetsu, Kusatsu, Hakone, Shirahama, Beppu
5 Famous Japanese Onsen Bath Salt Set Feel like you're in a Japanese onsen (hot spring) when you drop one of these bath salts in your tub. Makes your skin feels silky smooth.
Japanese Classic Waraji Sandals
Ninja, Samurai Products Restocked Many traditional products restocked today, including our most popular samurai sandals, the Ninja Retracting Parody Blade, and Wooden Ninja Sword.
Navy Simple Striped Men's Cotton Yukata  Size  XL
Beautiful Kimonos and Yukatas from Japan Live the life of a samurai or geisha with these cool, authentic kimonos from Japan, for both men and women.
Popular Traditional Items Restocked This is cool: a wooden case with the official seal of the Tokugawa Shogun, you can flash it at Japanese people like they do in Mito Komon. Holds stuff too.
Momo Velia Deviluke 1/8 Figure  To LoveRu **Preorder**
Momo Deviluke Figure ~ To LoveRu *Preorder* Check out this impishly cute figure of Momo from the hit harem anime To LoveRu. Extra moe, for the discerning collector. Preorder now.
Wild Tiger S.H. Figurearts  Tiger  Bunny **Preorder**
Tiger & Bunny Figures by Figurearts *Preorder* Then take a look at these awesome action figures of Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks from the "henshin hero" anime Tiger & Bunny. Too cool!
Awesome Photobooks Restocked See some delicious photobooks restocked, too, featuring kawaii and ero-kawaii Japanese models. We also of a pose book for artists.
Monster Hunter Unofficial Fanbook  Monhan no Erohon G2
We have some unbelievable doujins for you today, each jam-packed with erotic goodness for your consumption. Taking center stage is a massive 300-page anthology of Monster Hunter doujins from Udon-Ya. Huge breasts and skimpy armor abound. We're also offering an amazing full-color Evangelion doujin with all three of the heroines from the new Eva movies. And there's plenty more, so take a look!
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Cure Girl - Coffee Kizoku Artworks
Cure Girl - Coffee Kizoku Artworks Enjoy some amazing erotic art with this artbook from the popular moe eroge Cure Girl. Over 100 pages of cute girls in sexy situations.
Oppaai!  Oppai in TV Animation
Restocked Ecchi Artbooks, Too Got some nice "H" artbooks on the site today, including one that gives an in-depth look at all the wonderful oppai in your favorite anime. Click to view.
Many of you will have had fantasies of slipping yourself between the warm flesh of a woman's enormous breasts, but finding a woman who will lie still for long enough can be a challenge. The Japanese have come through with a new toy that promises to let us experience this feeling any time we want. Inside the toy are little soft oppai to make you forget your worries. Made in Japan.
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Shakuhachi Musume Oral Pump
Shakuhachi Musume Oral Pump What will the Japanese think of next? This new onahole will give you the experience of a thorough oral experience, without the necessity of a date.
I Have Few Sexual Desire!?  Aozora Hinata
Anime Parody 'H' Toys Relax with a product that will give yourself a relaxing vacation from the stress of your daily life, with parodies of favorite anime characters.
Love Body Mini
Love Body Mini This mini sized adult toy is perfect for traveling or those who want to have one handy, but in a secret location. A very popular J-List product.
Pururun Angel Bust 3
Great Oppai Products Restocked J-List prides itself on its wide variety of oppai products for lovers of soft breasts. Try Angel Bust, the oppai hole, and more!
Hitomi - My Stepsister
Hitomi - My Stepsister We've got dozens of outstanding English-translated dating-sim games for you, like the popular Hitomi My Stepsister, such a fun naughty story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beat Takeshi's Unbelieveable Miracle TV Show

One interesting Japanese TV show I watch sometimes is called "Miraculous Experience Unbelievable," a drama-variety show hosted by famed director and comedian Takeshi Kitano (universally known as "Beat" Takeshi inside Japan) which presents true stories of human trial and triumph each week. An episode I caught the other day told the story of the "Bionic Heart woman," an American girl who had to live for several months on a portable mechanical heart while she waited for a donor to be found. In a scene where a doctor was telling the woman and her parents about her serious condition, my Japanese father-in-law asked, "What is the doctor doing, telling the woman she might die at any time? Doesn't he know he should tell the parents separately and keep the problem a secret from the patient?" This is an old Japanese tradition that says doctors should never share information with seriously ill patients, but tell their family (especially the oldest son, if there is one) and let them decide whether to share the information or keep it secret. It's quite a big cultural difference from the way things are done in the U.S.

There are a lot of cultural differences bewteen Japan and the West.

A Big Fuckin' Sale in Osaka

You never know what random Japan-related thing will become popular on the Internet next. One day it'll be a TV commercial about a cute bowl of custard pudding who eats his own head with a spoon, then it'll be a cat who flies through space on a rainbow. Last week a department store in Osaka held a very interesting sale with a sign that went viral on the Internet almost at once, for obvious reasons. This hilarious sale shows us several things, first and foremost that the Japanese primarily view English as a decoration that's kakko ii (meaning cool, good style) rather than as a serious vehicle for communication, and don't think too deeply about what they write. It also shows that the word in question has no power to shock when the context is changed to a place like Japan, where people know the word through Hollywood films but don't care if it's used around them. (In this context its meaning in Japanese is something like sugee, pronounced "suu-GEH," a colloquial version of sugoi meaning "amazing, incredible" sale). I learned first-hand how some of these words lose their power while raising bilingual kids in Japan. Since Japanese people don't understand the "bad words" in English anyway, my son never showed the slightest interest in using them.

A very unique sale in Osaka.

Kanji in Japan vs. China

Last time I wrote about our trip to Taiwan, which was both chaotic and fun. While I couldn't make myself understood to anyone if they didn't happen to speak English or Japanese, the fact that I could read Chinese characters made it possible to identify most items on a menu, tell which shops were restaurants from the street and so on. While it's not that hard for me to identify certain words in kanji, there's quite a lot of room for weirdness when it comes to what they actually mean. For example, a vacant toilet in Taiwan shows the characters null + person, but in Japanese this word (mujin) would only be used for an uninhabited island, not for a restroom. The characters for hand + paper mean a letter (tegami) in Japanese, but the same characters in Chinese are toilet paper -- both are kind of logical, if you think about it. Finally, a public bath is sentoh in Japanese, literally meaning hot water you can enter for only one sen, an old coin that's worth 1/100 of a yen, but in Chinese this word means "soup," which can really be confusing.

Japanese speakers can read Chinese, though meanings can differ.

My Girlfriend is the President Download Edition is Shipping!

We've got good news for fans of the popular new eroge visual novel My Girlfriend is the President: download orders have begun! Now you can choose from a fast and convenient Internet Download edition version of the game, or go for the shrinkwrapped game in DVD-ROM format. The game is great, fully translated into English and fully uncensored, with nothing removed or changed from the original. Enjoy the hijinks of your girlfriend President Ohama, the super-cute Russian President Putina, a moe starship called Ell, and more! Click here to see English-translated eroge available by download.