Unlike countries like Saudi Arabia, Canada or the United States, Japan has almost nothing in the way of natural resources, no way to create economic value, for example, by digging up oil or minerals stored in the ground. This turned out to be a good thing, however, as Japan realized as it was modernizing in the late 19th century that its most valuable resource was its own people, which could only be developed through education. I was surprised by how involved Japanese parents get involved in their kids’ education, doing everything from standing along the side of the road to make sure children are safe as they walk to school to volunteering to join the PTA to help plan school events to shuttling kids to their juku (evening study school) every night. The symbol of education in Japan is a leather school backpack called a ランドセル randoseru, from the Dutch ransel, which parents or grandparents proudly buy for children when they enter the first grade, and which literally carries their hopes and dreams for the future. What’s interesting is that these school backpacks haven’t changed much since they were introduced back in 1885, and if my kids want to feel a connection with their mother, they can get her old school backpack out of the closet and see what she was studying on the last day she used it. As with Japanese school uniforms and school swimsuits, awareness of randoseru backpacks has filtered into the West through Japanese pop culture, and when actress Zooey Claire Deschanel was photographed wearing one by journalists, she became topic of conversation throughout Japan. If you’re interested in getting a Japanese school backpack for cosplay or other use, we just happen to have a few in stock.
Happy 萌えの日 moe-no-hi or Moe Day! Due to the way the kanji for moe (萌) looks like the characters for “10-month 10-day” (十月十日) or October 10, today has been designated as the unofficial “Moe Day” by fans. Moe – pronounced mo-EH, and no relation to a certain bartender on The Simpsons – is a collection of archetypical character traits of extremely cute female anime characters that have come to define many anime shows over the past fifteen years or so. One thing you need when designing a moe chara is a couple of endearing personality flaws, like the charming ditziness of characters like Yui from K-On! or Tsukiko from Hentai Neko or the carefully crafted idiosyncrasies in each of the girls from Is The Order a Rabbit? or Love Live: School Idol Project. While we’ve had characters that could affect fans emotionally for decades – I fondly remember buying Macross plastic models I didn’t intend to put together mainly for the Minmei art on the box back – the term moe came about in the early 90s, probably as a result of the popularity of Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) at the time. Moe seems engineered to bring out the “protective oniisan” instinct in males, but a lot of female fans report they’re also drawn to the extreme cuteness of these characters. So who is your favorite moe character or show?
The Japanese have a fun tradition called fuku-bukuro or “Lucky Bags” in which you get a bag filled with random stuff from Japanese department stores and other stops. Our customers love our annual Lucky Bag tradition, so this year we decided to start sales of the ecchi grab bags — huge collections of awesome products which are sent to you in a secure box from either Japan or San Diego — a few weeks early. Each is filled with awesome English eroge titles and DVDs, personal stress toys, personal lotion, manga and shrinkwrapped JAV DVDs, and we really went out of our way to make sure this year’s lineup of products was great. Browse them all now! (Non-adult grab bags will be posted to the site in November.)