Friday, June 15, 2012

How To Apologize in Japanese: Sumimasen

One of the most useful words of Japanese is sumimasen, which generally corresponds to "excuse me," though like most aspects of Japan there's a little more to it than appears on the surface. First and foremost, sumimasen (soo-mee-mah-sen) is used in any situation where you need to apologize for something small, such as causing someone inconvenience by bumping into them in the street, calling the wrong phone number, or ordering curry with fried beef intestines accidentally because you couldn't read the kanji in the menu, something I have actually done. Many situations which would call for a "thank you" in English work better with sumimasen in Japanese, something I learned at a public bath a few weeks after first arriving. We'd stayed a few minutes after closing time, causing minor inconvenience to the staff who no doubt wanted to go home, and as we left my Japanese coworker said sumimasen to them ("we're sorry for taking too long in the bath") rather than the phrase I would have used, arigatou ("thank you for letting us stay a few minutes past closing time"). When I asked about this, I was told that "'Thank you' sounds cheap. 'Excuse me' is a better word for Japanese people." The sumimasen phrase is also used when asking for service in a restaurant, and it's okay to loudly use the phrase to get your server's attention, though you wouldn't do this in the U.S. Like many Japanese phrases, you can use the all-purpose word domo (which loosely means "very") to add a layer of politeness -- e.g. domo sumimasen! ("I'm really sorry!").

Beef intestine curry is so popular, it even has a moe character.

My Japanese WIfe's Shopping Trip

Well, my wife has gone back to Japan, having spent a nice two weeks with me here in San Diego as I prepare for the summer anime conventions. As usual, before her return flight she had me drive her around town to pick up various things to take back to Japan, some for her but others as omiyage (oh-me-YAH-geh), or souvenirs for the J-List staff or other friends. Just as otaku love wonderful candy from Japan, the Japanese staff of J-List appreciate unique snacks from the States, and my wife selected some nice Ghirardelli chocolates to take back. Some American products have excellent reputations with Japanese consumers, and my wife made sure to buy several boxes of Ziploc baggies and two rolls of Bounty extra-strength paper towels. Another item on her list was American toothpaste, which supposedly has more fluoride in it than in Japan, and she had me reading the boxes so she could be sure to buy the toothpaste with the most fluoride in it.

I had no idea American toothpaste was so good.

When Worlds Collide: the Beatles Edition

It's always interesting to explore the "when worlds collide" moments between Japan and the U.S. Tomo, the J-List employee who keeps our site stocked with interesting DVDs, import visual novels and some of the more colorful Tenga stress toys, is a huge fan of the Beatles, and basically taught himself English by translating and memorizing their songs. (When the "perfect edition" CD boxed sets were released he bought both versions, despite each costing $500 in Japan.) I don't think he ever expected to meet an American who had gone the opposite direction, embracing Japanese pop culture in order to learn his language, as I've done. One day we were talking about the classic 1972 song "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, which a student of mine had ironically played at her wedding, not understanding that it was one of the saddest and least wedding-appropriate songs ever written. I had mistakenly thought the song was by the Beatles for some reason, and I'll never forget the look of shock on Tomo's face that an American could get a fact like that wrong -- he assumed that everyone from the West would know everything about the Beatles by default. Ever since coming to Japan I've loved onsen, Japan's volcanic hot springs, and I've been to dozens all over the country. When Tomo told me that he'd never visited one, I was equally shocked that a person could live in Japan and not automatically love the bathing culture as I do. It was quite an educational experience for both of us.

Tomo had been sure that every American would have intimate knowledge of the Beatles by default.

Awesome "Haganai" Products

One of our favorite recent anime series is I Have Few Friends, known by its requisite four-syllable nickname as Haganai, and we have dozens of quality anime figures, plush toys, mouse pads and, ahem, other items, for you to browse. Whether you like the sexy Sena, the tsukkomi character Yozora, trap-ilicious Yukimura, super-cute Kobato or the "perverted science girl" Rika, we have fun items for you.

Cool Products Thursday, June 14, 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.
Dengeki Maoh July 2012
An outstanding new issue of Dengeki Maoh, the magazine with over 500 pages of original manga from side-splitting comedy to epic adventure and more. With top-ranked manga like Persona 4, Amagami, IdolMaster, plus great new titles like Boku to Kanojo no Game Sensou, this is a manga you need to own.
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Animage July 2012
Animage July 2012 Here's an issue of Animage, the magazine that has shaped how we view animation more than any other. July issue filled with the latest anime news!
Persona Magazine vol. 8
Persona Magazine vol. 8 Fans of the Persona series will want to take a look inside another great issue of Persona Magazine. Packed with insider info and great art.
Mahiru Inami Nendoroid Figure  WORKING! *Preorder*
Cute Nendoroid Figures In Stock Any day we can post a kawaii Nendoroid to the site is a good day, and we have two today. Though they will probably sell out fast, unfortunately.
Sena Kashiwazaki Petanko Figure  Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai *Preorder*
Kawaii Petanko Figures for Haganai Fans The "petanko" series of cute seated figures continues with these delightfully moe renditions of Yozora and Sena from Haganai. In stock now!
Revoltech No.119 Gurren Lagann Gurren Wing ver. *Preorder*
Gurren Lagann Revoltech In Stock We have the awesome new Gurren Lagann Revoltech figures in stock, with superb detailing and bodies that can be put in any pose you like.
EVALOGOS EVA-02 Asuka Stainless Eco-Friendly Tumbler (350ml) **Preorder**
Evangelion 'Eva & Logos' Products Restocked Also: for Evangelion fans we're happy to announce fresh stock of the Eva & Logos stainless steel tumblers, a popular item.
Ane Ageha vol. 9 July 2012
Ane Ageha vol. 9 July 2012 Become like the girls of Tokyo with Ane Ageha magazine. Tons of fashion pics and tips on how to do your hair and make-up just like the girls of Shibuya.
Kawaii Illustration Girls T-Shirt  Gray
Kawaii Illustration Girls T-Shirts, More Posted Check out some great fashion items from Japan, like cute illustrated T-shirts, cool 2D bags, and tons of other items to keep you looking good.
Himo Noren -- Azusa Nakano from K-ON!
Fun Anime 'Noren' Door Curtains Restocked Our customers love the colorful and awesome anime-themed noren door curtains we stock, and we got more in today. Also traditional ones!
Nyanko Earphone Jack Accessory No.006  Twins **Preorder**
Cat lovers, prepare to be overwhelmed by cuteness with this teeny-tiny kitten plug designed to be inserted into the 3.5 earphone jack of your phone, whether it's an iPhone or similarly-shaped Android phoned. There are several versions of the cute cats, and they sit securely in your earphone jack and watch you while you use the phone. So cute!
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Persona 4 The Golden ***Preorder***
PS Vita Anime Games in Stock Awesome new PSVita games in stock today, incl. Persona 4 The Golden, Ciel Nosurge, Little Busters!, Tales of Innocance and more. Fully compatible with all Vitas!
Moe Sleeve Mirai Suenaga by Hagure Yuuki **Preorder**
false The Moekana series from Danny Choo is the moe way to learn to read Japanese, and we've restocked the booster pack and other accessories.
Hello Kitty Die-Cut Mug Cup
Some Very Cute Items for your Kitchen We love to surprise our customers with kawaii items for their kitchens, and today we restocked some cute anime cups and more.
Fuwa Fuwa Nyanko Cat Gloves  Black
Fuwa Fuwa Nyanko Cat Gloves Our customers love cosplay products from Japan, and we restocked the popular fuwa fuwa (fluffy) cat gloves and other cute items.
'Tatami' Pen Case
'Tatami' Pen Case Check out this traditional Japanese Pen Case made with woven grass, the same material tatami mats are made from. So nice!
Natsume Yujin Nyanko Sensei Case
Natsume Yujin Nyanko Sensei Case With a design that is distinctly Japanese, this portable case is the perfect way to transport your camera, phone, or other small items.
Morinaga Chocolate Caramel Set of 3
Morinaga Chocolate Caramel Set of 3 Another wonderful treat from Japan, this is the famous Morinaga Milk Caramel, now in a delicious chocolate flavor.
Kracie Happy Kitchen Humberger
Huge Restocking of Top Snack Items Enjoy the delicious Green Tea Chocolate & Cookie Set, UHA Zerosh Shigekix, delicious Glico Cheeza crackers plus epic Kracie Happy Kitchen Hamburger snacks!
Red Lacquered 2 Tier Bento Box w/ Elastic Band
Red Lacquered 2 Tier Bento Box w/ Elastic Band A beautiful and simple traditional style Japanese 2 Tier Bento Box, coming with an Elastic Band and in Red Wood Lacquered surface elegant design.
Free Concept  Bento Box w/ Kinchaku Bag
Free Concept Bento Box w/ Kinchaku Bag  Who said bento are too cute for men? Here's a stylish set of two modern black bento boxes, with transport bag for men! Enjoy your lunch like a boss!
HONWAKA Happy World  Beno Box  Genuine Lacquered 2 tier Box  Elastic Band
Today's Traditional Bento Boxes The quality of a bento box add joy to your life each time you open it up and day itadakimasu! (let's eat!). See today's new traditional bento stock.
Blue Hana-Yuzen Chopsticks  Case Set
Blue Hana-Yuzen Chopsticks & Case Set A really nice set of high quality chopsticks that are very traditionally Japanese. Easy to hold and use.
Animal Mini Fork  Spoon Set  4 Set
Animal Mini Fork & Spoon Set ~ 4 Set We love to find cute products to bring bento enthusiasts around the world, today we have a set of cute Animal Spoons and Forks!
DEKO-BOKO Shamoji  Uneven Sticky proof Rice Scoop
Shamoji Rice Scoops You can't make rice without a rice scoop, and this is a great one because it's got a deko boko (er, bumpy, uneven) surface that helps keep rice from sticking.
Japanese Folding Fan  Pink SAKURA
Beautiful Traditional Products Posted An attractive item from Japan, perfect for the Summer season: traditional Japanese fans, plus Gods of Fortune display and more.
TATAMI  SETTA Sandal  Hemp Pattern
Even More Amazing Japanese Sandals Keep your feet cool in summer with a stylish pair of Japanese sandals, great to walk on. Many styles and sizes available, too, for guys and girls.
Natural Stone Magatama Strap -- Black Onix
Restocked Traditional Items from Japan Plus, you'll want to bring along some extra luck with you when you are battling the demons of the academic finals. These charms are more are now restocked.
SENKYAKU-BANRAI   TORA Lucky Cat Happy Message Mini Display
Lucky Cat Message Display, Magatama We love Lucky Cat products and stock many from Japan, including those cute ones with kanji messages printed on their tummies and more.
Maya Nakanishi 2012 -2013 Calendar
Maya Nakanishi 2012 -2013 Calendar  Maya Nakanishi, a track star who lost her leg, is selling this amazing calendar to raise funds to travel to this summer's Paralympics in London. Wow!
Sena Kashiwazaki 3D Oppai Mouse Pad  Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai *Preorder*
Sexy Oppai Mousepads Anime and hot 2D moe girls fans will love our new selection of sexy oppai mousepad, or how to gently rest your wrist on something soft and warm.
Death Star Silicon Ice Maker *Preorder*
Death Star Silicon Ice Maker *Preorder* Star Wars fans, the ultimate silicon ice mold is here. Strike fear into the hearts of all who oppose you with your very own Death Star. That's no moon...
Nyanko Sensei Earphone Jack Accessory No.001 'Chara-Clean' *Preorder*
Nyanko Sensei Products, Other Anime Figures Fans of the Nyanko-sensei from Natsume's Book of Friends will enjoy this earphone jack accessory. Also: a Samurai Girls figure you will love.
Diary -- Rina Ito
We're huge fans of the elegant and high quality photobooks printed in Japan, and if they feature gorgeous JAV idols in the pages, so much the better. This is Rina Ito's first photobook, featuring the gorgeous newcomer who just started her career in April. In addition we have fresh stock of some other photobooks you might like to see, including Rio / Tina Yuzuki, smokin' hot!
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Tamaki Mukousaka Oppai Mouse Pad  Toheart2 XRATED -Illustrated by Urotan **Preorder**
Tamaki Mukousaka Oppai Mouse Pad A sexy oppai mousepad featuring popular heroine Tamaki and her mammoth breasts, covered by only a single band-aid. Nosebleed time.
Yuka Yoshino 1/7 Cast off Figure  Tsundero **Preorder**
Epic Cast Off Figures In Stock We carry dozens of great "cast off" figures for our naughtier customers, and today we have the Tsundero and Highschool of the Dead figures in.
Anaru Tokyo
ANARU Tokyo Our customers love the large catalog of adult toys we offer and this is our first time carrying an amazing toy made for use in another place.
ONA BEAT DX Vol. 3  K-On! Parody Toy  OnaBeat!
Parody Anime Stress Toys Fresh stock of the oh-so-realistic K-On! DX Ona Beat toys, which simulate Yui, Mio, Azusa and more. Great for those lonely nights.
Otokonoko 'Trap' Stress Toys Restocked In the "oh no they didn't!" cateogory, Japan has created onahole toys for "trap" fans. Our customers love these things, so we restocked them today.
Gucho Nure Monster  Kakusei
Other Random Stress Toys Restocked See other random toys restocked, including the battery-powered Greatest Stroker II, the Airi Himekawa Air Doll, and the amazing Gucho Nure Monster.
Sora to Kumo to Kimi no Koi  First Limited Edition
Sora to Kumo to Kimi no Koi ~ Limited Edition Live the moe-packed school life of your dreams in this beautiful new visual novel from Klein. Six heroines to target.
Bakunyu Maid Hunting Perfect Version -- Mogudan
Bakunyu Maid Hunting Perfect Version The perfect edition of Mogudan's Baknyu Maid Hunting, featuring both volumes of this juicy erotic anime. Several other epic hentai titles restocked too.
Blonde School Girl Nakadashi Hi-Vision Collection (Blu-ray Disc)
Blonde School Girl Nakadashi Hi-Vision Folks at Glay'z label went on a trip to eastern Europe and bring back this awesome footage featuring Blonde students taking full loads inside.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sad News From Osaka

Japan is, on the whole, a very safe place. The number of murders in the entire country is among the lowest in the industrialized world, and whenever one occurs in our prefecture it's talked about for years, it's such a rare event. When crimes do happen, there's often an unexpected and random element to them that that baffles us with its senselessness. A good example of this is the crime of randomly stabbing a passer-by on the street with a knife, known as toori-ma, literally meaning "a devil who was passing by randomly." Sadly there was one such random knife attack in Osaka this past weekend, and Shingo Minamino, the producer for Nitroplus who was responsible for the outstanding music of such games as Demonbane and Steins;Gate, was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed, along with one other random victim. The Japanese and international otaku community are expressing their sadness at the loss of such a talented music producer.

Some very sad news about the genius behing Nitroplus's most incredible games.

Random Japanese Grammar: "Small Tsu" Edition

The Japanese language has a lot of unique features, like its syllable-based pronunciation system in which ka, ki, ku, ke or ko can be expressed but never a k sound by itself. It's also one of the few languages with a written character for a "glottal stop," which is a brief pause when saying words like Hawai'i with the proper pause in between the two 'i' vowels. Usually expressed in the Roman alphabet with double consonants, some words that have this brief pause (called 'small tsu') include gakkou (gah-[small pause]-KOH, meaning school), tanoshikatta (ta-no-sh-KAH-[small pause]-TAH, meaning "it was fun"), or a word I like a lot, meganekko (me-ga-ne-[small pause]-KO, or characters who wear glasses). So when you learn Japanese, you need to internalize that a word like saka (hill) is completely different from sakka (writer). One reason I recommend textbooks or flashcards that only feature hiragana, katakana and kanji as opposed to romanized Japanese is, forcing yourself to learn the actual characters helps your Japanese pronunciation, since the rules of English (like silent 'e' and all that) will only trip you up when trying to pronounce words correctly.

I love characters who wear megane, called maganekko.