Happy Halloween from J-List! As an American growing up, October 31st was always one of my favorite days of the year, and I have many fond memories of trick-or-treating with friends while wearing costumes my mom had sewn for me. (Aren’t moms the best?) When I came to Japan back in 1991, there was very little awareness of Halloween outside ESL classrooms, which, being a “place where you learn English from a gaijin,” were always decorated with Jack-o-Lanterns and ghosts so the students could get some sense of Western traditions. For the longest time Halloween was little more than an excuse for foreigners in Tokyo to drink and be loud in public while wearing costumes, but it eventually started to gain popularity with Japanese, thanks in part to marketing efforts by Tokyo Disneyland, which puts on various themed events in October. Over the past few years, Halloween has positively exploded among Japan’s cosplay-loving young people, who are all too happy to create amazing costumes and show them off in hip parts of Tokyo like Shibuya. Considering the massive popularity Halloween enjoys in Japan now, I can only wonder what things will be like in a few more years.
I truly love the modern era we live in, with its convenient smartphones that are more powerful than any computer I owned growing up, and world-shrinking services like Twitter, which allow me to tweet about a TV show in which Japanese comedians try to eat Swedish surströmming (canned fermented Baltic sea herring) and get instant feedback from fans in Sweden about it. Computers have become so powerful I can run multiple versions of Windows side by side, useful when translating those wonderful Japanese visual novels we sell, and I can emulate my first computer ever easily on a Mac or PC, just for the nostalgia factor. Still, sometimes I feel there’s something missing, a “tactile” element that hasn’t translated well into our modern age. Back in the Atari 2600 days, I loved to look at the incredibly detailed art on the game cartridges, which could somehow make a game consisting of blinking dots seem much more real than it was. Yasu, J-List’s buyer of manga and artbooks, is the same as me, often talking about the joy of touching an NES game cartridge, or the analog feel of a gashapon (egg toy) machine as you turned the handle to dispense your prize. Happily, it’s possible to sample these, at least, since we have two authentic gashapon machines in stock right now.
While you enjoy your Halloween weekend, your thoughts might turn to the coming Holiday season and Christmas, which is making its way slowly towards us. Since most of J-List’s products, from amazingly soft Totoro blankets to kawaii bento boxes and accessories to our famous lineup of Japanese snacks, all ship from Japan, we like to suggest that customers start thinking about what they want to buy early, so they can choose cheap shipping methods like SAL. This year is a great one to buy cool products from Japan: thanks to the strong yen, all prices have been dropped 20% compared to last year, and all shipping is cheaper, too. To help you get your holiday shopping started, take $10 off any purchase of $40 or more using code MEGUMIGO10! (Good this weekend only.)