Thursday, June 28, 2012

Japanese Pronunciation Guide 2012

Every once in a while I like to revisit the rules of Japanese pronunciation, since the language can be tricky. First, understand that Japanese is a syllable-based language, meaning that sounds always come in consonant + vowel syllable pairs (e.g. ka, ki, ku, ke, or ko, never just a "k" sound by itself), or as a single vowel syllable. The exception is the letter n, the only consonant that can appear by itself, without which we wouldn't have the word "ramen" (and that would be a travesty). Vowels are easy as pie in Japanese -- there are only five, identical to the ones in Spanish:
A - "ah" rhyming with "fall"

I - "ee" rhyming with "feel"

U - "oo" rhyming with "fool"

E - "eh" rhyming with "let"

O - "oh" rhyming with "go"
Some things to keep in mind. First of all, discard if you can the spelling rules of English, like "silent e" on the ends of words. Every syllable is pronounced, so that the last name of voice actress Yui Horie would be pronounced "ho-ri-eh." There is no short "a" sound (as in "cat") in Japanese, so if you find yourself saying words like kanji (Chinese characters) or the final syllable of ichi man (the number 10,000) like the word "at" or "fan," try to say "KAHN-ji" and "ee-chi MAHN" instead. If you're interested in learning Japanese, I always recommend textbooks and study guides that force you to work in the "native" Japanese writing system, hiragana, as its much easier to pronounce well if you move away from Romanized Japanese. The Kanji Practice Flashcards from White Rabbit and the Genki Japanese textbooks both use kana are both good for learning as they avoid writing any Japanese words in the Roman alphabet, forcing you to learn to read and pronounce correctly.



The Mechanics of Pachinko in Japan

Pachinko is the national pastime of Japanese men, and most anytime you drive by one of the many pachinko parlors around my house, you'll see a parking lot nearly filled with cars. The point of the game is to take a bucket of silver balls that you buy from the proprietors and shoot them into a pinball-like machine, hopefully holding the controller at just the right angle that the balls will fall into certain holes in the machine, causing more balls to come out. If you are a "pachi-pro" or a person who's really good at playing the game, you'll end up with more balls than you started out with. Since gambling is illegal, you can't redeem the balls for money, but you can exchange them for valuable prizes, which you take to a smaller business located next door to "sell" to get your money -- a good example of tatemae (the way we pretend things are in society, though it's all a big lie), which I wrote about last time. While I'm not personally a fan of loud, smoky pachinko parlors, the industry renders an important service for anime studios whenever they license famous shows to create Fist of the North Star-branded pachinko machines, so I can't complain.


Pachinko is a huge industry in Japan.

Kotobuki Taisha: Quitting Work to Get Married

There are many differences between Japan and the U.S., and some of them can be downright hard to reconcile. When I was a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL), I would frequently have smart, dedicated female students who worked very hard to learn English so they could work the dream job they'd always wanted to work...but the moment some man brought out a ring and proposed to them, they'd give up their careers and happily become a housewife. It's a pattern I've seen numerous times running J-List, too: our incredibly talented female employees often seem to come with a ticking timer, and we never know when the time will come for kotobuki taisha, a word that can be translated as "joyful retirement from one's company for the purpose of marriage." Not every woman feels the urge to quit her job when they tie the knot, especially the closer you get to cities, but in more rural Gunma (100 km north of Tokyo) the general pattern is for women to quit when they get married, or 1-2 years later when children come along, then re-enter the workforce 6-7 years later when their kids enter school. The other day I received word that Ai-chan, the capable J-List employee who keeps our site stocked with awesome bento boxes and kawaii things for your kitchen -- despite her name, she is not an A.I. -- will be getting married and leaving J-List in a few months. We wish her every happiness!


Most women quit their jobs (including J-List) when they get married.

School Days is Shipping! Long Live School Days

The day has come at last: we're finally able to announce that School Days, pretty much the most epic eroge ever made, is finally in stock and shipping. This is a fabulous game, fully animated and 100% uncensored, with a rich and complex story and dozens of game endings, including new endings made for the HQ version. We're shipping the Normal Version along with limited numbers of the Collector's Edition this week, with the rest of the games to go out next week. You can order School Days right now, or if you haven't seen it yet, browse the excellent official School Days English site.

Anime Expo 2012, J-List Will Be There!

Everyone is getting excited about Anime Expo, and no one more than J-List. We'll be at the show in a big way, with hundreds of awesome products from Japan, from anime and kanji T-shirts to figures to our trademark English-translated visual novels. J-List will be in booth 911 (virtually impossible to forget), so make sure you come by and say hello! We'll also have an awesome English eroge panel on Friday night -- make sure you're there because we'll have free stuff for everyone + some exciting new announcements. I'll naturally be posting to Twitter and Facebook, so if you don't follow us on one or both of these platforms, consider doing so now!

Cool Products Thursday, June 28, 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 JBOX.com 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 JBOX.com websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the JBOX.com updated products link.
Dengeki G's Festival Comic vol. 24
The latest edition of Dengeki G's Comic Festival is here! Featuring awesome manga for you to read through this summer + a free hug pillow cover! As usual, Dengeki G's Festival is one of our favorite magazines because of all the awesome free stuff fans get. (It's a little on the "H" side so please see this book on the J-List side.)
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Dengeki Visual Art's 2012 Summer
Dengeki Visual Art's 2012 Summer Pick up the latest issue of Dengeki Visual Art's, the premier art magazine for fans of Key and other Visual Art's brands.
J-List's Megumi Original iPhone Snap Case
J-List's Megumi Original iPhone Snap Case Made after numerous customer requests, J-List is proud to give you our very own Original iPhone Snap Case, with our cute Megumi on it! We'll have it at AX too!
Anime T-Shirt -- Waiting in the Summer (Anonatsu)
Waiting in the Summer Licensed Anime T-Shirt! Another new licensed anime shirt by Anishirts, this time base on the popular anime series 'Waiting in the Summer' -- Now available!
Anime T-Shirt -- High School of the Dead Logo
And We Have 'Another' T-shirt TOo Anishirts, the home of otaku fashion delivers a new officially licensed t-shirt, this time base on the popular horror anime series "Another."
White School Swimsuits  Skirt Type (XXXL Size)
School Swimsuits, Striped Socks, Other Cosplay The cult of the suku-mizu (the Japanese school swimsuit) is seen in anime a lot, and we've restocked several for you today. Also cute "neko" products!
Japanese Style Eye Patch for Anime Cosplay - Evangelion
Moe Moe Eye Patch See other fun cosplay products restocked, including the classic anime eye patch, as seen in Evangelion, Ikki Tousen and Another.
Kiss You Pair Shirt - Gray  Men's Shirt
Fun Fashion Items Posted Cute and stylish pair of shirts for lovers, available for men and women in gray and black. Rock the pair look like Asians do!
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan PINK  size 5L
Shimapan ~ Striped Panties Restocked The holy grail of anime cosplay are shimapan, worn by the cutest anime girls. See pink and blue in stock, in M and 5L "trap" size.
THE IDOLM@STER2 Nendoroid Petite Box (Set of 8) *Preorder*
IDOLM@STER 2 Nendoroid Petite Box Your very own idol unit awaits in this box of adorable chibi Nendoroids. It'll take a master producer to find just the right position for all of them.
Rorona 1/8 Figure  High Priestess Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland **Preorder**
Atelier Rorona, Estelle Bright Figures You'll also want to take a look at these cute figures of Rorona from Gust's Atelier series and Trails in the Sky heroine Estelle Bright. So gorgeous!
Rilakkuma Plush Large
Today is Rilakkuma Day There's nothing like hugging a giant, soft bear plush toy from Japan to make you feel better, and J-List has posted several awesome Rilakkuma products restocked.
Nausicaa and Laputa Fox Squirrel -- Kitsune Risu
Kawaii Ghibli Plush Toys Restocked Also: get your very own Laputian Fox Squirrel in plush form, plus the epic Totoro and Jiji rattles for babies. Also the house from Spirited Away.
Totoro 2013 Calendar -- Theater in Forest **Preorder**
Ghibli 2013 Calendars available for Preorder The 2013 Ghibli calendar available for preorder now at J-List. Illustrated with all you favorite characters from Ghibli Studios.
Totoro 2013 Schedule Book **Preorder**
Ghibli 2013 Schedule Books: Totoro, Laputa, Ponyo! Ghibli already has its collection of 2013 Schedule Books available for preorder. The quality on these is extremely high and all Ghibli fans will want one.
JLPT N3  Nihongo Power Drill N3 Moji, Goi
JLPT N3 ~ Nihongo Power Drill N3 Skill up your Japanese level before taking the JLPT test, with all the drills and practice tests you need from these amazing books.
Basic Kanji Drill New -- 2nd Grade
Japanese Kanji Study Books Restocked Also, fresh stock of the Japanese kanji drill books used by Japanese children, with several back in stock. Study like the Japanese do!
DECOLE Manmaru Panda Mug Cup  Spoon
Ridiculously Frog & Panda Mug Cups 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.
Nyanko Sensei Cafe Au Lait Bowl **Preorder**
Nyanko Sensei Bowls, Cups, and More If you're a fan of the adorable Nyanko-sensei, then check out this selection of cute bowls, cups, plushes, and more. Something for every room in the house!
Morinaga Milk Caramel Soft Cookie
Morinaga Milk Caramel Soft Cookie Another wonderful treat from Japan, this is the new Morinaga Pudding Cookie -- a delicious cookie stuffed with a filling of real milk caramel flavor.
Kyoto Candy -- Kyou Nishiki
Awesome Kyoto Candy Restocked We love traditional candies from the Showa Period, and here are many great Kyoto Candy favorites restocked, plus Kompeito!
Neru Neru Nerune -- Three Flavors (Set of 3)
Restocked Neru Neru Nerune, Other Snacks Enjoy the fun DIY gummy candy from Kracie, plus Pineapple 100% Juice Gummy, Bourbon Cubyrop Candy (note, contains no bourbon ^_^) and more.
Takoyaki Electric Cooker
New Takoyaki Electric Cooker  Make your own Takoyaki (breaded octopus balls) with this new awesome Takoyaki Maker from Japan.
HENOHENOMOHEJI Genuine Lacquered 2 Tier Square  Bento Box  Elastic Band
Traditional Bento Boxes Restocked We love carrying awesome traditional bento boxes from japan, and have restocked several today, incl. "Hiragana Face" and more.
UKI-UKI Animal Lunch Picks  10pcs (5 types)
Awesome Bento Lunch Picks Also for bento fans, we've got several different kinds of decorative bento picks -- decorate your lunch and then eat using the picks!
KURETAKE ZIG MANGAKA Cartoonist Black Pen Asssortment Set  0.1  0.5  0.8
Restocked Japanese Pens for Manga & More This full set of three pens are appropriately named mangaka, for these pens are used by many top manga artists.
Ninja Sword Letter Opener
Fun Miniature Ninja Swords, More See some fun traditional products restocked, including little samurai swords for opening your mail and authentic miso soup bowls, yum!
Spirited Away Hanafuda**Preorder**
Fun 'Hanafuda' Cards Hanafuda is a fun game that's been played for millenia in Japan. We have traditional, Star Wars and "Spirited Away" Hanafuda for you to try!
Jaina Solo 1/7 Easy Assembling Kit  Star Wars ARTFX BISHOJO **Preorder**
Jaina Solo 1/7 Star Wars Bishojo Figure Kotobukiya presents a moe rendition of an iconic character from the Star Wars expanded universe - Jaina Solo!
Cat and Chair 1/8 Figure Alice ver. **Preorder**
Cat and Chair 1/8 Figure Alice ver. *Preorder* From the pages of doujin comic Neko no Wakusei (Planet of the Cats) comes this exquisite figure of a sexy catgirl lounging on a chair.
Karen Araragi Figma Action Figure  Nisemonogatari **Preorder**
Karen Araragi Figma Figure ~ Nisemonogatari Show your support for Nisemonogatari's Fire Sisters with this Figma action figure of Karen Araragi.
Nyaruko Nendoroid  Haiyore! Nyaruko-san **Preorder**
Nyaruko Nendoroid ~ Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Fans of the hit Lovecraftian parody anime Haiyore! Nyarko-san, check out this Nendoroid figure of everyone's favorite Crawling Chaos.
Saber Nendoroid Figure Fate/Zero ver. **Preorder**
Finally, Even More Kawaii Anime Figures Finally, even more awesome figures for you, including Nendoroid figures of Fate:Zero, Infinite Stratos, and Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. Gorgeous!
Dengeki Moeoh Aug 2012
All you moe fans get ready for another great issue of Moeoh (The King of Moe). Tons of amazing artwork inside from some of the best moe artists in Japan, covering both popular eroge titles as well as anime and more. Comes with beautiful posters too! These issues always sell quickly so grab one before they're gone.
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GANTZ/K -- Natsuna
GANTZ/K ~ Natsuna Get to know the Heroine of the movie Gantz better, Natsuna, in this beautiful and sexy perfect bound photobook.
Kare to Ninmu to Sex to
Kare to Ninmu to Sex to Yaoi artist Yoshiike brings you his latest creation, an amazing Erotic Modern Ninja Story for the Yaoi genre lover.
Pestering Wife
Pestering Horny Wife A high quality onahole by ToysHeart Japan, realistic reusable stress relief accessory for men that replicates the inside of a hot horny wife.
Gucho Nure Monster  Kakusei
Our Most Popular Onahole Toys See other random toys restocked, including the battery-powered Greatest Stroker II, the Airi Himekawa Air Doll, and the amazing Gucho Nure Monster.
My Girl Yuria  DX Love Doll
Restocked Love Dolls for Lonely Nights Got other restocked items too, including the My Girl Yuria doll, the most realistic anime doll we've seen yet, and several other products.
Onatsuyu  Female Nectar
Popular Lotion, Massagers & More Plus massagers, lotions, toys, vibrators and more, all from Japan and all for your personal pleasure.
School Days HQ -- Collector's Edition **Preorder**
School Days HQ is NOW SHIPPING Preorders for the best English-translated eroge ever released are piling up. Did you get your order in? Orders will go out in the order received so order now!
JAST USA Memorial Collection  Three Classic Bishoujo Games
JAST USA Memorial Collection A reedition of JAST USA's classic Bishoujo Games Memorial, including 6 old school visual novels on one disc! Rediscover the classics of Dating-sim.
D.C.III  Da Capo III
D.C.III ~ Da Capo III The wonderful Da Capo series returns for its 10th anniversary with this brand-new game starring five cute new heroines.
Little Busters!
Restocked Import Eroge from Japan Enjoy excellent import H-games, like Little Busters, Your Diary and Summer Rain by Kantoku (!!), Yuri Ghost on the Rooftop, and Those Who Are Sung.
Hitomi Kitagawa the Best
Hitomi Kitagawa the Best  One of the most active and popular JAV actress of the moment, Hitomi Kitagawa is up for a new best-of put together by Wanz. If you look at no other breasts today, click through and see this woman's, man they are well-shaped.