Japan is very different from the States, and there are different social engines at work here. While I feel it’s important not to over-beautify Japan with talk of the Way of the Samurai, or giri and ninjo (the Japanese classical ideals of honor and empathy), there are some concrete social concepts that are part of everyday life here. One is the concept of in-groups (uchi) and out-groups (soto), the idea that people outside of your group (your family, school club, company, etc.) are treated different, in effect by erecting a verbal “barrier of politeness” between you and them. Relationships in Japan are very vertically oriented, with a clear top and bottom — you always speak differently to someone older than you, or to someone higher than you in a senpai/kohai (senior/junior in an organization) relationship. In North American English, we tend to speak more or less the same way to everyone, regardless of their age — this ability to talk with people without excess formality is something English speakers do every day. However, when speaking with a superior in Japanese, you’d generally use polite language; failure to do so would sound “cheeky.” I’m 36, and I’ve got Japanese friends in their 50’s, but I can only think of them as “friends” (tomodachi) if I’m thinking in English; if I think about them in Japanese, they automatically become “acquaintances” (shiriai) in my brain.
There are some other concepts at work in relationships in Japan. One is “enryo,” a word which means restraint or as a verb, to refrain from doing something. My Japanese teacher at SDSU explained it to us like this: a Japanese person comes for a visit to your home. You offer them a drink, and they say no thanks, they’re fine. You offer again a few minutes later, and again they decline your offer. Finally you make your offer a third time, and they gladly accept. It may sound odd, but enryo is a kind of politeness that’s important for getting along in a country with so many people crammed into a small space. It seems to be related to Japanese humility (kenson) — if you tell a Japanese woman how pretty she is or compliment her English, she’ll probably disagree with you strongly, a way in which Japanese avoid being boastful. There are many phrases in Japanese that illustrate this tendency to show humility in front of others. For example, when you give someone a gift, you usually say “Here’s something that’s not interesting” (tsumaranai mono desu kedo…) or if you bake someone a cake, you say, “I’m not sure if it tastes good or not…” (Oishii ka dou ka wakaranai kedo).
We’ve gotten in another huge volley of 2005 calendars yesterday and have added them to the site. We now have a total of 150+ amazing Japanese calendars in stock and on hand, with another 100 available for order but not in stock yet. Although it’s our busiest time of the year, we love Japanese calendar season because of all the really special items we’re able to make available for everyone — uniquely Japanese calendars like the Joy of Sushi or Bento, talented artist calendars like Yoshitaka Amano, sexy idol calendars featuring beautiful women like Chisato Moritaka, delightful and rare anime calendars, and more. But remember — calendars are a very seasonal item, and our current excellent supply will start to dwindle fast as the year rolls on.
Today we have a very special item for you: very limited stock of the ultimate Ghost in the Shell fan item, the Innocence Collector’s Box, a massive 20 lb box that comes with tons of incredibly rare and special items for fans, including five DVDs totaling 549 minutes playing time, two art books, a deluxe figure of the gynoid robot, and more. Stock will be very limited on this amazing item, as it’s already nearly impossible to find in Japan even though it just came out. (We’ll be getting the Innocence Gabriel bassett-hound music box version in on Friday for fans who want to wait for that item.)
J-List’s anniversary sale on English-translated dating-sim games is almost over! During the month of October, we’re offering $1 shipping on all H games for you, allowing you to save tons of money on the excellent dating-sims we sell. International customers get half off the normal shipping, so if you’re outside of the U.S./Canada, you can save too. As always, buy 4 or more games, get 20% off, too!
Interested in the hit Japanese mannequin drama OH! Mikey? This is a deliciously bizarre parody of an American family living in Tokyo, with fashion mannequins playing all the parts of the story. In addition to the cute antics of young Mikey, there is the oh-so-dapper father James, his wife Barbara, the playful Tony and Charles, Mikey’s venomous cousin Laura, and more. All five DVDs in the OH! Mikey series are subtitled in English, so you can enjoy this most excellent and wacky example of Japanese television even if you don’t understand Japanese. (The DVDs are region 2, so we humbly recommend the region free DVD players we just happen to have in stock). 3/22/05