Pachinko is a popular past-time in Japan, especially with men. It’s basically a vertical pinball-style machine, with the object being to shoot metal balls at just the right angle needed to make them go into certain holes inside the machine, which makes more balls come out, so that you end up with more balls than you started out with. Although gambling is illegal, you can exchange the balls for “prizes” which you turn into “sell” back to the pachinko parlor. Gunma prefecture, where we live, happens to be the Detroit of the pachinko world — virtually all major manufacturers are based here, and there are more pachinko parlors than in other parts of Japan. As with all industries, pachinko companies must work hard to come up with ways of attracting customers, and it’s common for new machines to sport LCD screens and slot machine displays and innovative cabinet designs. Recently pachinko parlors are turning to famous anime shows to attract customers. Leiji Matsumoto has redesigned his famous anime Space Cruiser Yamato (aka Star Blazers) as Great Yamato II, a line of pachinko machines designed to capture the hearts of a new generation of players. I’ve posted some scans from a recent newspaper flyer advertising some new pachinko establishments in our area — the art is pretty cool. See them here: http://www.jlist.com/pachinko/
Transliteration is the act of moving a word from one writing system into another, and with languages like Chinese and Japanese, there are always different approaches to this problem. This is why you get variations like Peking and Beijing for the capital of China or an alternate spelling of “Leon” for photo idol Reon Kadena’s first name. Japanese is a syllable-based language, and has a system of syllabary sounds built into its structure. For example, you can express the sounds ka, ki, ku, ke, and ko in Japanese, but not “k” all by itself. One point of contention is how to Romanize three syllables that don’t fit easily into this pattern, pronounced “shi” “tsu” and “chi.” Should they be written as they’re pronounced (called the Hepburn method), or should the “consonant + verb” pattern be preserved even if it results in written words that foreigners can’t pronounce correctly (called the Nihon method), e.g. writing the word pronounced “tsuchi,” meaning earth or ground, as “tuti.” As with computer platforms, students of Japanese are usually willing to fight over the system of Romanization they think is best (whichever one they happened to learn first).
Among the many interesting products from Japan we carry, J-List also stocks all English-language dating-sim games in print, which allow you to interact with cute anime characters in interesting and uniquely Japanese stories. While most of the titles we carry are for those 18 and older, we do sell a line of non-adult “H games without the H,” which allow everyone to you play through exciting the multi-ending stories on any DVD player, Playstation, Xbox or Mac or PC with a DVD-ROM drive. The newest interactive DVD game we have for you is Ishika & Honori, a great new game in which you must assist a cute-but-bumbling pair of Paranormal Defense Force investigators as they try to unlock a terrible mystery. Enjoy this great new game, in stock now!
Remember, J-List has hundreds of great gifts for your loved ones (or you!) this season. If you run out of time or want to add something cool at the last minute, consider a J-List Gift Certificate, which makes it easy to give the gift of wacky Japanese pop culture to anyone. Because you can choose either a physical gift certificate in gift box (mailed from San Diego) or an email-only gift certificate which is delivered instantly, these gift certificates are great for anyone looking for the perfect gift for the Japanophile on your list.
J-List carries many delicious snack items from Japan. Japan is famous for delicious chocolate-covered stick snacks like Pocky and Fran, and this year’s flavors are really amazing. In addition to a larger package of original Pocky, our favorites this winter are Cocoa-Powder Rich Pocky and Strawberry and Chocolate Pocky Decorer (“the Pocky that’s like eating a decorated cake”).