Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Charm of "Haafu" in Japan

Wherever you're from in the world. there's a good chance that your blood contains contributions from different national groups -- maybe some German or Italian blood from this branch of the family, or perhaps a dash of Cherokee to keep things interesting. To people from the melting pot that is the United States, mixed ancestry is taken for granted, and it's quite common to talk about about where your ancestors came from with others. This is one discussion you probably won't hear in Japan, a very homogeneous country where virtually everyone considers themselves to be of identical stock, and discussions about why that guy from Kyushu looks several shades darker than everyone else are frowned upon. The exception to this rule are individuals who are haafu, or half Japanese and half-Western, who exist in the special place between futsu (normal) Japanese and the incredible varieties of face, hair and body types seen in Westerners. To many people, haafu seems to be the perfect blending of Japanese sensibilities and Western mystique, and there's a large group of "talents" on TV whose mixed blood helps them appeal to fans. Currently the top haafu star in Japan is a model named Rola, who is part Japanese, Russian and Bangladeshi, and her elegant "otherness" is winning her many fans.


Rola has a blend of features that Japanese fans love.

Fun with Transliterating Words into Japanese

When you learn a language as different from English as Japanese is, you have to get used to concepts not always translating over on a 1-to-1 basis. There are separate words for white ducks (ahiru) and brown ducks (kamo), or for coldness in the air (samui) vs. coldness to the touch (tsumetai), and poor gaijin will invariably produce the wrong word to their general embarrassment. Often English loan words are modified slightly when they're imported into Japanese. For example, the word for a strike in baseball is sutoraiku but a labor stoppage is a sutoraiki (ki on the end instead of ku), to avoid confusion. Some similar examples include gurasu for a glass of water but garasu for glass in a window, bureiku for taking a break when you're tired but bureiki for the pedal you press to stop your car, or always using the word "fruit" in its plural form (furu-tsu) to keep it from being phonetically identical to the word "flute" (furu-to). Another classic one is their use of aian for "iron" when talking about the metal, including the golf club and the superhero Iron Man, yet the object used to make clothes look nice is transliterated as airon...a totally different word as far as the Japanese are concerned.


Different words for iron (the metal) and iron (the thing you use on clothes).

My American Fourth of July

Wednesday marked Independence Day in the U.S., and since Anime Expo was kind enough to end before the holiday this year, I found myself with a rare opportunity to show Yasu -- the Japanese J-List employee who keeps our site stocked with quality manga and artbooks as well as random plush toys -- what a real Fourth of July was like. We took in a parade in Julian, a pleasant little town in the mountains above San Diego, and Yasu was amazed to see the number of people who had turned out, waving flags and singing patriotic songs. For various reasons including embarrassment over their nationalistic past, the Japanese have little opportunity to show off love of their country, and there are no holidays like the Fourth of July, Veteran's Day or Memorial Day to celebrate national heroes. The closest thing to Arlington National Cemetery in Japan is Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of Japan's soldiers are interred, but the place is constantly embroiled in controversy because several wartime criminals are also interred there. Later Yasu went to see fireworks and was on hand to witness the embarrassing glitch that caused 18 minutes worth of rockets to be shot off in 18 seconds, which was an event he won't soon forget.


We had a memorable 4th!

Fun Bento and Kitchen Items from Japan

For years J-List has been a great place to find kawaii things for your kitchen, whether it's our extensive selection of bento boxes and accessories to cute mug cups and a large selection of cookbooks. Whether you're looking for a fun way to make your kitchen more Japanese or just want to enjoy some soy sauce with lunch, we've got lots of items to browse. Click to see the most popular bento and kitchen items, as ranked by our customers.

Cool Products Saturday, July 7, 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 Daioh Aug 2012
The new Dengeki Comic Daioh, a thick, slick, hip manga magazine featuring some of the best artists and stories in Japan today. 800 pages to enjoy, including Muv-Luv Alternative, Gunslinger Girl, AnoNatsu, Gurren Lagann, Toradora, and Yotsubato!
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Girls Girls Girls 8  Colorful Girls
Girls Girls Girls 8 ~ Colorful Girls E2 is back with a new sequel of its most successful book, Girls Girls Girls volume 8! 100+ pieces of gorgeous moe art in full color.
Yui Hirasawa 1/7 Figure Swimsuits ver.  K-On! **Preorder**
Yui Hirasawa 1/7 Figure Swimsuits ver. ~ K-On! I love the Beach Queen swimsuit anime girl collection, and here's Yui in her swimsuit, ready for the beach. Buy her before someone else does.
UTB Up to Boy Aug 2012
UTB Up to Boy Aug 2012 Immerse yourself in Japan's idol culture with a new issue of UTB. Recommended for fans of AKB48, S/Milage, and all cute Japanese girls.
Shoxx Aug 2012 vol. 234
SHOXX Aug 2012 vol. 234 A new issue of Shoxx is posted, for fans of Japan's amazing "visual-kei" J-ROCK band culture. So epic to look through each issue!
Pokemon Pikachu Ice Shaver
Pokemon Pikachu Ice Shaver The perfect item for summer parties, this is the original Pokemon Electric Ice Shaver (naturally it's electric, since it's Pikachu). We also have shave ice syrups.
Totoro Kids Pillow
Totoro Kids Pillow A cute Totoro Pillow for Kids, very cute, colorful and comfortable, to decorate your room. I would have loved to have something like this back in the day.
Spats Dream  M
Awesome 'Spats,' Other Cosplay Items A lot of anime characters wear "spats," a Japanese word that means spandex pants or bicycle shorts. See these and other cosplay items restocked.
Stripe Panty and Half Top set 5L size  Blue Shimapan
Restocked Shimapan Striped Panties for Everyone And for all you lovers of Japanese cosplaying and fashion, we've got Shimapan in stock in a variety of colors and sizes, even for, er, Hideyoshi fans.
Gothic Lolita Apron
Gothic Lolita Apron Show off your cute body with equally cute apron that can double as cosplay wear. Awesome gothic lolita girl sold separately.
Knee-High Striped Stocking Socks  Black
Knee-High Striped Stocking Socks Look super-kawaii in a pair of striped knee-socks, which have been a specialty of J-List's for a long time. Click to see our newly restocked items.
Japanese T-Shirt -- SCIENCE! (Standard Men's shirt)
Japanese T-Shirt ~ SCIENCE! We love making anime T-shirts and have been doing it for years. I personally love the Science! parody shirt. Which is your favorite?
2D Bag  Red *Preorder*
2D Bag for a 3D Life, Restocked Today Walk into a vortex of 2D/3D with these amazing bags that are soon to be released. You're carrying a real bag but it looks like it animated!
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko Plate
Cute Anime Plates We love to find random anime items for our customers, and today we have the Fate Testarossa and Denpa Onna anime plates!
Usakoro Kyubey Powder Plushy  White
Random Plush Toys Restocked We love to find random plush toys from Japan, and we have the Usakoro Kyubey plush, along with Sakura Miku and cat plushes that you should see.
Red Kaomoji Plushy Daruma  Medium
Red & Gold Kaomoji Plushy Daruma Dolls Traditional and modern Japan come together in these cute and cuddly kaomoji daruma dolls. Each has ASCII art straight from the Japanese internet!
Catfish Avoiding Natural Disaster (Earthquakes) Display
Catfish Avoiding Natural Disaster  Bring luck and happiness into your life with this very special Catfish statue set, believed to protect its owner against natural disasters like tsunami.
Biore Makeup Remover Oil  Skin Care Lotion Sheets  48 Sheets
Biore Makeup Remover Care Lotion Sheets A nice body care accessory from Biore Japan, this is the Makeup Remover Sheets, soaked in a nice moisturizing oil and lotion.
Black Charcoal Strong Deodorizer
Cool Products for your Home Charcoal that removes odors, fizzing BUB, sakura clothes pins, your home will become a Japanese shrine of cleanliness with these.
Cross Line mc-1 Metal Case for iPhone 4/4S  Baby Pink
Cross Line mc-1 Metal Case for iPhone 4/4S We love to find iPhone products from Japan, and have some fun items to choose from. See the last of the popular phone strap metal case, J-List's official case and more.
iTunes Japan Music Card
iTunes Japan + Cthulhu = ??? You can score all the great OP and ED songs from Haiyore Nyarko. Also, a new single from Momoiro Clover!
Hatsune Miku Project DIVA 2nd  Popular Edition
Hatsune Miku 'Pantsu' Games Restocked If you love pantsu, I mean awesome Vocaloid Hatsune Miku, we've restocked her hit PSP games, which are great for watching something with green-and-white stripes.
Steins;Gate
Other Anime Games Posted We have some fun products for PS3 fans too, including both Steins;Gate versions and other anime games you should browse. Great art by BRS creator Huke!
Hello Kitty Dish Strawberry Pattern
Hello Kitty Dish Strawberry Pattern Here's a super cute Hello Kitty plate for young kids, made of real porcelaine, it's a nice new official Sanrio product for all Kitty fans.
Re-ment Hello Kitty Kaiten Sushi Full Set of 6 **Preorder**
Hello Kitty Miniature Sushi, More Then see the ever-popular Re-Ment Miniature Hello Kitty Sushi Set, the only Hello Kitty Sushi Set you need. Traditional Ningyo Yaki maker too!
Kutsuwa Study Flashcards w/Check Sheet
Japanese Flashcards, Other Study Products See more Japanese study items restocked, including flashcards plus the excellent Zebra Check Set for memorizing any information.
FURO-MEMO  Black  Bath Water Proof Ring Memo
FURO-MEMO and FURO-tan Also, don't you hate it when you're in the bath and have an idea, but can't write it down? See fresh stock of our waterproof notepad and study cards!
Meiji Cream Collon
Glico, makers of Pretz and other wonderful snack foods, bring you the tragically-named flavored cheese snack Collon. We also have a new variaty of Meiji Copan, delicious pieces of toast in cream cheese flavor, along with a large restocking of our most popular J-Snacks.
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Glico Takoyaki Pretz w/Takoyaki Sauce Set of 3
Restocked Japanese Snacks Enjoy Meiji Pizza and Takoyaki Gummy candy, Takoyaki and Pudding Pretz (w/sauce you put on!), Shigekix in Ramune and other flavors, new Hi-Chew and more!
Felix Gum Box
Amazing Gum From Japan Enjoy delicious gum from Japan too, including the cult hit Felix the Cat Bubblegum, which our customers love. "Fusen no Mi" gum from Lotte restocked too.
Rabbit Playing on The Milky Way 2 Tier  Bento Box w/ Elastic Band
Rabbit Playing on The Milky Way Bento Box  A new gorgeous bento box with a beautiful lacquered wood finish on the lid and cute rabbits and sakura flowers running along. Great design!
Lacquered 3-Tier Bento Box w/Chopsticks - Awesome Style
Awesome Traditional Bento Boxes, Too See other fun traditional bento boxes too, from Hakoya and other companies we respect a lot. I love the 3-tier Picnic Style Bento personally.
Chopper Man Tight Bento Box
One Piece, Totoro Bento Boxes Bento is just a little bit better if its got Totoro or One Piece's Chopper Man printed on it, don't you think?
PITTARI  Panda Sandwich Case
Nobody Makes Cute Sandwiches Like Japan There's no sandwich like a Japanese sandwich, and we've restocked our sandwich makers which make your lunch kawaii. Highly recommended.
Navy Striped JINBEI / Summer  Relax Wear Set   XL size
Fun Items for Summer from Japan! Get into the spirit of summer when you put on a pair of Japanese Jinbei summer kimono-pajamas, which I wear all summer long.
KATORI-BUTA  Ceramic Mosquito Coil Server Pig Shaped
Katori-Buta, Transforming Towels Restocked Also, wonderful traditional products for summer, including the Katori-Buta ceramic pig for holding mosquito coils, wonderful fuurin wind chimes and more.
Star Wars Lightsaber Chopsticks Light up ver.  Darth Vader **Preorder**
Star Wars Lightsaber Chopsticks *Light Up* What could be cooler than Star Wars lightsaber chopsticks? Ones that really light up! A totally fun way to eat your food in Jedi and Sith style!
Yu Narukami 1/8 Figure G.E.M Series  Persona 4 **Preorder**
false An amazing figure of Yu Narukami from Persona 4 G.E.M. series, produced by Megahouse and measuring 22cm tall (8.6 inches), 1/8 scale.
Chihaya Kisaragi 1/7 Figure Brilliant Stage Idol Master **Preorder**
Chihaya Kisaragi 1/7 Figure Idol Master Fans of THE IDOLM@STER - Brilliant Stage, enjoy this new Chihaya Kisaragi 1/7 scale figure, measuring 21cm tall (8.2 inches), made by Megahouse.
Yozora Mikazuki Puni-M Mouse Pad**Preorder**
Yozora Mikazuki Puni-M Mouse Pad *Preorder* A superb colorful and sexy oshiri (hips) mousepad from Yozora Mikazuki of the anime series "I have few friends." The hottest mouse pad we've seen yet.
M Jo wo Yari Houdai
M Jo wo Yari Houdai A great digest magazine coming with a 210min DVD, for a live preview of all the best new Japanese Adult Video titles available.
Color Comic Collection 3  Comic Unreal
Color Comic Collection 3 ~ Comic Unreal Volume 3 of the gorgeous glossy Color Comic Collection is here, featuring 31 short hardcore sex stories printed on beautiful color glossy pages.
Tonari no Koibito wa Onesan (Hatsujouki)
Tonari no Koibito wa Onesan (Hatsujouki) Presented by artist Jamingu this new hentai manga tells the story of a young man in love with his hot kyonyu neighbor. Hot!
Discipline ZERO  Blu-ray Perfect Version (Blu-ray Disc)
Discipline ZERO ~ Blu-ray Perfect Version The popular Discipline H-anime series returns in an encore 2-part original series -- for the first time together in a single new Blu-Ray edition!
Sujiman Kupa Roa
Sujiman Kupa Roa ~ Real Onahole A new awesome onahole designed and crafted in Japan, that uses 2 types of soft silicon material to enhance your experience. S- So realistic!
Cutie Hip with Shimapan
Awesome Love Doll and Parody Onahole Toys We also restocked popular love doll products including the Super Sonico toys plus something special for AKB fans and a silky "Meiki" toy.
Swap Cock Shooter -- Matori  Black Rock Shooter Parody
Black Rock Shooter Parody, Other Onahole Toys We also restocked some of our favorite parody onahole toys, including Black Rock Shooter, a popular series with our customers.
Groomon, Tenga Stress Toys Restocked There's no denying that Japan is great at designing things. and we've restocked our popular GROOMIN "stealth" stress toy plus our Tenga products.
School Days HQ *Preorder*
We're happy to have School Days shipping, and know that our customers will love playing what may be the best eroge ever -- with full animation, a massive 13 GB of data to play through, 21 unique endings (only 3-4 of which are "dark" like the anime). Note that we're still shipping preorders, several hundred a day, and will get all of them out very soon -- thanks for your patience if your game hasn't shipped yet. (Yes, a download edition is coming, once we give time for people to get their preorder package games, since everyone waited so patiently.)
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Nakadashi 10 Times Blu-ray Special -- Shiori Kamisaki (Blu-ray Disc)
Nakadashi 10 Times Blu-ray ~ Shiori Kamisaki  Gorgeous Shiori Kamisaki is the star of the amazing Blu-Ray, focused on hot hardcore fuck scenes with creampie finish.
19 Years, The Awake of Desire -- Misa Makise
The Awake of Desire ~ Misa Makise Makise Misa, the new young SOD star who got her first movie filming broadcasted live on the internet returns in a new production by SOD.
Lesbian Penis Band Bus of a Black Gal
Lesbian Penis Band Bus of a Black Gal A new hardcore lesbian production featuring hot tanned girls, assaulting other girls with strap on dildos, in the back of a bus. SM plays included!