Hello again from all of us at J-List!
Despite the fact that Japanese are the longest-lived race (or the 2nd longest lived, depending on the study you read), the Japanese are really big on smoking. 60% of men smoke, and quite a few women, too, which is a little strange to my liberal California way of thinking. Unlike the U.S., where smokers are urged to quit smoking to preserve their health, Japan doesn’t have a problem allowing smoking and generating tax revenue from it. For many years the Japanese government operated Japan’s largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco (they also make a line of canned beverages), and although the company has been privatized, it still retains a semi-official status with the government. Because of the great revenues generated from smoking in Japan, there’s not much pressure for it to go away at present. Even the “warning label” on cigarettes in Japan is a joke. It reads: “Because there is concern that it will damage your health, please be careful not to smoke too much.” People here don’t seem very sensitive about it: it’s still not uncommon for restaurants to not even have a non-smoking section, yet my wife and I seem to be the only ones who think this is odd. Sadly, as tobacco companies have run into more barriers selling their products in the U.S., they’ve increased their advertising and overall presence in Japan. All U.S. brands are very well known in Japan, from Camels to Marlboro to Kool. As in the U.S., they don’t allow cigarette advertising on TV in Japan, however when you go to some movie theatres you should be prepared to see a huge in-your-face ad for some tobacco product or another before the show starts. It’s not something we’re used to seeing in the U.S.
It’s time for more wacky trivia from the Fountain of Trivia, our favorite Japanese TV show. The colorful wrappers on Chupa-Chups were designed by Salvador Dali. The Playboy bunny logo was chosen because rabbits are famous for their sexual appetites (makes sense, really). Pulling a nose hair will cause tears to form in the eye on the same side of your face as the hair you pulled. Tokyo Tower was constructed using the iron smelted from 90 U.S. tanks left over from the Korean War which the Japanese government bought from the U.S.. If you give coffee to a spider, it will weave a crooked web, as if drunk.
There’s a wacky thing that Japanese do to money: fold a 1000 yen bill so that Souseki Natsume (the 19th century novelist who adorns the Japanese 1000 yen note) makes sad or happy faces, depending on which way you look at the bill. I’ll teach you how it’s done so you can amaze your friends with this great Japanese trick. First, take a bill and make an outward fold where each of his eyes are. Make an inward fold through the middle of his face, so that his eyes are higher than his nose (like little mountains). If you look at the bill from above, the face will look sad; from below, and he’ll look happy. Virtually all Japanese known this silly trick, and would be surprised if any non-Japanese knew it. Here’s an example of what it’ll look like when you’re done: http://www.jlist.com/1000.html . If you don’t have any Japanese money lying around, it should work pretty much the same with other bills, too. These bills might be disappearing soon though: in April, a new bill featuring Hideo Noguchi, a famous Japanese biologist, will be issued.
We’ve got another great selection of all-new Japanese products for you, courtesy of the hardworking J-List staff. Enjoy various new manga, DVDs, anime and character items, cool Sanrio items sold only in Japan, and many more cool items!
J-List customers tell us that the #1 way they hear about J-List is through word-of-mouth. We’re very glad to hear this, and we’re always happy to accept referrals! If you’ve got a friend who might be interested in our unique brand of Japanese pop culture, why not tell them about J-List, or ask them to sign up to our J-List updates? Thanks!