Hello again from Japan, where “UFO” and “VIP” are pronounced as words, not spelled out (e.g.” you-foh” and “vipp”).
All Japan was shaken by the terrible tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia. I happened to hear the news right after it broke, jacking into a talk radio station in Atlanta (what would we all do without the Internet?). The Japanese are very proud of their participation in the Shuttle program, and of the three Japanese astronauts, Mamoru Mouri, Koichi Wakata and Chiaki Mukai, who have flown into space. Mukai-san, the Japanese astronaut who flew with John Glenn some years ago, happens to hail from Gunma Prefecture, right down the road from J-List, and we’ve taken our kids to the Prefectural Space Museum in her hometown that’s dedicated to teaching Japanese young people about space. Among the many thousands of people that receive J-List’s updates is a friend of ours, NASA’s liaison to Japan’s space agency NASDA, who would have known all the astronauts who died in the tragedy. Our hearts go to out to everyone involved in the exploration of space in this sad time.
The Japanese do love tests. In addition to their world-famous college entrance exams, the Japanese have standardized tests for just about everything, with levels that are similar to the belt colors in karate and judo. Just about every subject, from abacus to waapro (word processing) to accounting have national tests that students and adults are encouraged to study for and take. The most famous standardized test in Japan is Eiken, also known as the Step Test, a series of tests that Japanese students take over the course of their lives — level 3 while in junior high school, level 2 while in high school, and level 1 if they really want to try a challenging test after college. There are standardized tests for Japanese brush writing, penmanship, and even a test for calculating rapidly and accurately with a calculator. All sports have their own various standardized tests, including skiing — my son, who recently started to ski, will be taking his first tests next year. For gaijin like you or me, there’s a test for learning Japanese called the Nihongo Noryoku Shiken or the Japanese Ability Test, taken each December at various cities around the world. Level 4 tests basic kana and kanji, levels 3 and 2 are progressively harder, and level 1 is a really difficult test required for all students who want to enter a Japanese university. Japan’s test mania may seem odd, but it is a good way to motivate people to study and better themselves.
What color are your eyes? All Japanese people have brown eyes, although if you ever ask them what color their eyes are, they’ll tell you “black” (because the center of the eyes are black, as opposed to the iris). Japanese are often interested in the eyes of foreigners, since they come in different colors, something totally unknown in Japan (although they do have color contact lenses here). When I tell Japanese that my eyes change color depending on what I’m wearing, ranging from green to hazel to blue, they usually don’t believe it’s possible. My wife and I are studying Spanish, and recently I was asked by my teacher, a Japanese who grew up in Peru, if I saw the world through a blue or green tint because of the color of my eyes.
We’ve had some bad news on the Hello Kitty massager front — the factory that makes these has stopped production, and we’ve been told that our current stock is all that will be available. If you’re looking for the ultimate Japanese pop culture item, we recommend the Hello Kitty vibrators, which are cool on so many levels. Also, buy 3 or more of these great items and get 15% off!
For the new update, we’ve got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, if you love Macross/Robotech, we’ve got stock of the very rare blue and red Super Valkyries from Yamato — fully transforming and perfectly detailed
- For fans of great Japanese film on DVD, we’ve got the original Japanese release of The Ring, for fans of the U.S. film who want to see the terrifying original (region 2, Japanese dialogue only)
- For fans of Japanese Race Queens, see a great photobook featuring the lovely Ran Enoki, as well as fresh stock of the popular Gal’s Paradise card series
- If you love rare snacks from Japan, enjoy the new items we’ve got for you, including Caplico (ice cream you can eat anywhere), delicious chocolate 5 yen coin candy, delicious egg furikake, and squid
- Camouflage is definitely “in” this year in Japan — we’ve got a handy camouflage room organizer that you can use to store anything
- For Hello Kitty fans, many items, including a cute Kitty silk purse, a hand-knit Kitty mascot that’s so cute, and a rare set of Kitty finger puppets!
- For fans of the only-released-in-Japan Hot Wheels, we’ve got a new vehicle for you from a classic anime
- Enjoy a new keychain set for fans of One Piece, the famous Jump anime and manga
- For Totoro and Sun Arrow fans, enjoy several new items, including a cute Mei doll, fresh stock of the dynamite tin toy items
- For Ultraman fans, we’ve got a cool item — a rubber Ultraman mask
- We’ve got lots of fun Hamtaro items, including the Hamtaro drawing set, fresh stock of Hamtaro Hiragana notebooks and more
- J-List loves to carry “parody goods” from Japan, such as the Bandage Memo (post-its that look like band-aids), fresh stock of the wasabi lighting keychain and more
- Finally, enjoy puffy carriers that protect your possessions (great for laptop computer), a neat dish-drying rack for your sink, fresh stock of bento boxes and chopsticks for your kitchen, fresh stock of stylish Blythe dolls, and more!
For our adult customers, we’ve got many new 18+ products. They include:
- For lovers of fine Japanese adult magazines, we’ve got the new Gokuh, the delightful and bold magazine of erotic photography from Eichi Publishing
- We’ve got the new issue of the extremely popular Gal’s Shower, a wonderful all-bukkake magazine for fans of this unique Japanese fetish
- Don’t miss Mini-Skirt Sexy DVD, featuring 180 minutes of beautiful and erotic Japanese Race Queen sexy ladies and a full color magazine
- We’ve got some great photobooks for you as well, including a very authentic first nude photobook by a nurse at a famous Tokyo hospital, and a superb nude featuring the lovely Natsuki Abe
- Japan as a country is very fond of dressing up in costumes, which is called “cosplay” — now you can dress up as an erotic maid with a new item we’ve got for you
- For hentai doujinshi fans, we’ve got another selection of top-notch erotic underground comics, although we have only limited stock — so check quickly!
- Also, for fans of more convention Japanese hentai “wide” manga, enjoy a super two volume set by Masayoshi Mukai and EX Comics
- Also, a new item: two “eComics” which are complete hentai comics on two great card-sized CD-ROMs that are beautifully printed, a very nice item for collectors
- For fans of adult DVDs from Japan, we’ve got a great lineup for you today, starting with a new Adult Video Wrestling special, 120 minutes of the finest realistic sexual pro wrestling we’ve seen (region free)
- We love the pure beauty and girl-next-door looks of Hikari Kisugi, and now you can see enjoy her erotic loveliness in a Blue File release, 3 hours of her best work on one disc! (region free)
- Mirei Asaoka was one of the queens of 1990’s adult video, and she shines again in a great new 4-hour release from Alice Japan (region free)
- Enjoy two girls with wonderful “exploding breasts” (as they say in Japanese) — Maria Yumeno and Ryo Aihara team up in a new “coupling” DVD from SOD (region free)
- The sultry, burning eros of Airi Niiyama is captured in a new offering from Wanz Factory, a great erotic DVD for fans of Japanese bondage play (region 2)
- Finally for fans of highly developed Japanese lesbian performances, see a new Le-Zu-Bian offering from U and K!
Remember that J-List makes dozens of magazines available through our “reserve subscription” system. Basically, we’ll pre-reserve the current issue of each month’s magazine for you and have it in the mail to you by the time it’s in bookstores here in Japan — a few days earlier, actually, since we get our stock earlier than most bookstores. We’ve got many different anime, toy, JPOP/JROCK, idol and other magazines available, we just know there’s something you’d love to get each month. See the magazine subscription pages on our site for more information.