Unlike the U.S. or most of Europe, Japan is a very homogenous country, where people tend to consider themselves part of the same genetic stock despite the sometimes obvious differences in facial features and hair and skin tint due to the presence of Korean, Mongolian, Ainu, Russian and other blood in the veins of “pure” Japanese. Somehow this tradition of “one-ness” has amalgamated into the unifying body of knowledge known as joshiki, things that any reasonable Japanese person is expected to know. Just as all Japanese take it for granted that chrysanthemums are a flower reserved for laying on gravestones rather than giving to one’s wife, as I accidentally did to her great amuseent, we foreigners often have our own joshiki that can seem alien to the Japanese. We have a friend who owns a company and once complained that he had rather a lot of debt, including several different bank loans at different interest rates. I made the obvious (to me) suggestion that he get one new loan at as low a rate as possible and use it to retire all the other loans, and this was the most brilliant idea he’d ever heard — apparently no one thinks of things like that here. When it comes to saving for a rainy day, the common sense of many people is to put their money in the bank, even if it pays a paltry 0.2%, or a whopping .75% if you opt for a 10 year CD. I once tried explaining one American joshiki of investing — that the younger a person is, the better it is to hold stocks, since you have more time to recover from any problems you run into — to my conservative mother-in-law, who has never owned stock in her life because some people have lost money in stocks in the past. Suffice it to say that she didn’t see the point I was trying to make.
While this Japanese tradition of most people being on the same wavelength is usually a positive thing, there are downsides, one of which I call the “tyranny of the majority.” My wife made breakfast for me the other day, which included two eggs fried “eyeball” style (what fried eggs are called in Japanese) and several strips of bacon. “This is turkey bacon, right?” I asked her, and she gave me a sidelong glance at my sarcasm. While Japan is a great place, with warm and friendly people and many beautiful sights to see, it lacks some of the choices you’d expect to find in a wealthy, modern country, including any kind of healthier products made with turkey meat. Whenever I go back home to San Diego I bask in the many choices around me, from the variety of imported beers available in stores to authentic Rold Gold pretzels to delicious whole-grain breads, and bagels, oh those bagels. I drink skim milk most of the time when I’m back home, not because I like it, but because it’s all but impossible to find here in Japan, a country where the majority has decided that milk should be thick and creamy, with 4.7 per cent milk fat. This can make it a challenge for people with special needs to live in Japan, for example vegetarians often have trouble finding food that is completely free of animal products. Before I started J-List, I worked for a few months at the local city office as a “Facilitator of Internationalization,” basically helping other foreigners who needed help getting city services. The person who had been in the job before me had left early due to various frustrations that reportedly included not being able to drink anything, since everything from cola to green tea has caffeine in it, which was against his religion.
All of us at J-List wish everyone in the U.S. a warm and happy Thanksgiving on Thursday. This is one of those holidays that can be hard to follow when you’re far from home, and it’s quite common for our entire Thanksgiving to consist of a bucket of “Kentucky,” as KFC is called here. It’s possible to find frozen turkeys imported from Brazil (which contain guidance about how the turkeys were prepared in accordance with the laws of Islam, since they are also exported to the Middle East), although the bird we got last year was so small we had to modify the cooking instructions downwards. This year we’ve got a box of good American stuff like mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and of course pumpkin pie, but we’ve decided to substitute turkey with pollo a la brasa, spit-roasted chicken from our favorite Peruvian restaurant. While you’re recovering from dinner, remember that J-List stands poised and ready to help you with any and all shopping needs this long weekend, and we’ve got thousands of rare and amazing products for the Japan-focused person on your list this year.
We’ve got an announcement for fans of our PC dating-sim games today: the upcoming Snow Sakura has been declared “Golden Master” and is now being duplicated, just in time for the start of winter (don’t you love our timing?). This is a really special game of love and “H” in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, in which you play Yuuji, an average Japanese youth surrounded by a circle of beautiful girls, Saki, Kozue, Rei, Misaki and Misato. Although you knew the girls when you were small, for some reason you can’t remember much about those days, only that you made a promise to one of the girls under the magical Snow Sakura tree. The mystery is, which girl was it, and why did you forget? This game has it all — great characters, a long story with lots of depth, hilarious comedy scenes and a huge number of beautiful “ero” game CG. You can still preorder it and get free shipping when it ships!