Important note: the launch of the new J-List website is coming next week, most likely on Monday-Tuesday. This will entail some downtime as the switchover is made, though much less than last month since much of the old customer and order data has already been synched. While all customer accounts and orders will be carried over to the new system, wishlists will all be erased. This means that you should take a screenshot of your current wishlist now so you can re-create it with the new system. Arigatou!
The Japanese are very big on seasons, often believing that Japan is the only country in the world blessed with four distinct seasons because they visited California a couple times. Now that the heat of summer has largely given way to autumn, companies are rolling out new seasonal products, from Kirin’s venerable Aki-Aji (“The Taste of Autumn”) beer to this year’s Sweet Potato shakes and anko sweet bean pies from McDonald’s Japan. It’s also time for convenience stores to start selling one of my favorite foods, 肉まん nikuman (pronounced “niku-mahn”), which are steamed Chinese buns with flavored meat inside. They’ve got quite a long history, being mentioned in the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms nearly 2000 years ago, and if you ever visit Yokohama’s famous Chinatown you really need to try some. The ones sold in convenience stores aren’t quite as good, but they’re hot and tasty nevertheless, and cheap at just 110 yen. Variations on the basic “beef and bread” nikuman buns include pizza-man (tomato sauce and cheese), curry-man (curry-filled bread), and sukiyaki-man (steamed bun filled with sukiyaki flavored meat, yum).
While the word “otaku” most commonly associated with fans of anime, manga and games, there’s really no limit on what people can decide to obsess over in a fun way. There are idol otakus who follow groups like AKB48 or Momoiro Clover Z, train otakus whose goal in life is to someday catch a glimpse of the legendary “Dr. Yellow” diagnostic train, and “tower otakus” who take joy in visiting various towers in Japanese cities, like Tokyo Sky Tree and Yokohama Marine Tower. While some might associate the otaku lifestyle with the nerdier side of life, cooking, camera and health otakus are recognized categories, and my Japanese wife is a card-carrying “brand otaku,” never able to pass a Louis Vuitton store without going in. Sometimes it can be surprising what Japanese decide to embrace, like bus otakus (though the more specific term is “bus baka”), who buy and restore rare buses from the 60s and 70s, or traffic signal otakus who travel all over Japan taking pictures of rare and archaic traffic signals. The other day I saw a book dedicated to “cassette tape otakus” detailing the history of high quality audio cassette tape brands sold in Japan in the 70s and 80s, so I naturally grabbed some stock for the site.
One of the biggest game releases for us as a company has been Shiny Days, the massive sequel — prequel, actually — to the smash hit School Days, which tells the story of what would have happened if the characters had met the previous summer. The game release has been a complex one, in part because it’s such a massive game (16 GB of fully animated video, with over 35 endings and the ability to romance virtually every major and side character…and each character’s mother). The complexity of the game coupled with assembling the artbook, mouse pads, keychain and other items, coupled with J-List’s impending site refresh, has caused some unfortunately delays, but we’re finally going to start shipping the Limited Edition on Sept 30…and download codes will go out to all preorder customers on Sept 25! Preorder your copy now!