Hello again from all your friends in Japan!
Japan is currently full of anxiety over the future of the national pension fund system, the equivalent to Social Security in the U.S. Although citizens are ostensibly required to pay into the fund each month, there is no enforcement of the system, and as a result, many self-employed Japanese refuse to make their payments. It turns out that several high-ranking politicians in the current government had skipped a few years worth of pension payments, even while they contemplated new ways to require Japanese citizens to pay into the system. Both Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, the soft-spoken middle-aged man with “bar-code hair” who was the voice of the government during the Iraq hostage crisis, and Naoto Kan, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Japan’s only important opposition party, have both resigned their posts to take responsibility for the problem. The issue of what kind of lifestyle Japan’s aging citizens can expect over the next few decades is big in Japan right now — Japan is after all a country with a high cost of living, where real estate doesn’t grow in value and a 1% return on a certificate of deposit is considered great.
No matter how long I live in Japan, there’s an area of the Japanese language I just can’t seem to pick up: Japanese abbreviated numbers. Often, numbers such as phone numbers on TV commercials are expressed as spoken Japanese words, with each syllable corresponding to a number according to some complex phonetic system that’s impossible for gaijin to figure out. Want to order the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper? Just dial 026-999, which somehow corresponds to “ofuro de kyu-kyu-kyu” or “Let’s get squeaky clean in the bath.” Back in the mid-90s, before cell phones became the norm, Japanese young people carried pagers (“pocket bells”) that could display numbers, and it was common for friends to communicate between themselves using these bizarre number-based messages. For example, to send “good morning” you’d send 084 (“oh-ha-yo”, short for ohayo gozaimasu). The Japanese also teach multiplication tables to their kids quickly using these confusing number messages — by the end of the second grade, my son had memorized all his times tables.
There’s an unfortunate phenomenon that affects all Japanese who use computers or “waapro” (word processors) at work: they lost almost all ability to write Kanji, or Chinese characters. With the steady acceptance of computers into Japanese life, many people use keyboards all day long, and as a result, almost never actually write characters by hand. Because kanji is a very structured system, not writing it for long periods of time makes you forget how to write (although reading ability is retained). I imagine this happens not only with Japanese, but with all cultures that use kanji. I am affected by this problem as well, as I almost never hand-write Japanese anymore, and it’s shocking when I go to write an easy character but can’t bring it up in my mind.
For the new update, we’ve got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of 80s and 90s anime, we have a treat: selected Japanese music CDs for you to check out, including some dynamite Macross CDs that are impossible to find
- If you love Ruroni Kenshin, this is your lucky day: we’ve got the new Samurai X Story Image Figure series, with full sets in stock for you
- For any students of Japanese, we’ve restocked a popular item: traditional Japanese report-writing paper (genko yoshi)
- Manga is claiming its place in the world’s popular culture — be on the leading edge with the new issue of Monthly Dengeki Gao, with over 550 pages of brand new Japanese manga stories and cool stuff
- For fans of Japan’s gorgeous swimsuit idols, enjoy the new hardcover photobook of Aya Hirayama
- Next, we have a cool item for fans of the Thunderbirds show: Mega Bloks toys (compatible with Lego)
- For fans of Tomy’s “Tomica” die-cast cars, we’ve got the new Toyota Prius 2003-2004 model in stock
- Fans of our Japanese snacks, enjoy delicious Chelsea Fruit Yogurt candies, delicious Bisco cookies loved by kids in Japan, and a fun item, chocolate eggs that you open to reveal a cool Disney figure inside
- Also, a new item: delicious Sapporo-style miso ramen that you can make at home
- We’ve restocked many snack and gum items, including various furikake (food that you sprinkle over white rice), delicious miso soup varieties, soy milk candy, Dakara “Pocari Sweat” gum, and various sugarless Xylitol gum varieties
- Dragon Quest fans, we have a neat new toy series featuring the monsters from the classic game series
- We’ve got another great all-purpose stainless steel case that can be used to carry medicine or just about anything else — or use it as a portable ashtray if you want to practice good smoking manners
- We’ve got a handy item that cleans venetian blinds for you easily, very hand to have around the house
- For Totoro and Studio Ghibli fans, we have some great new items, including a music box from Kiki’s Delivery Service, deluxe plush keychains, plush Totoro toys that are to die for, and more
- Godzilla fans, we’ve restocked the popular Godzilla 2000 phone strap/keychain, so you can take big G with you anywhere you go
- Finally, we’ve got an all-purpose soft case that can hold many things, fresh stock of our authentic Shogi board and wooden pieces, more chopsticks and items for your kitchen, and many other great items!
For our 18+ customers, we’ve got many new products. The new items include:
- First, we’ve got a great item: a cool new issue of Gal’s Shower, the popular wet-themed Japanese magazine
- Also, for fans of Japan’s indies JAV, we have an issue of the all-indies DMM featuring two special 120 minute DVDs
- Then we’ve got a nice magazine for fans of “Oneesan” types, a word which can mean older sister but in this case refers to women aged 22-28
- Photobook fans, check out the gorgeous glossy photobook offering of Saori Kamiya, Yugure no Toki (Sunset Time)
- Don’t miss the gorgeous hardcover photobook of Shinobu Ikehata, the luscious Japanese “Relax Angel”
- We’ve also got a new “Chinkame” (small pocket format) photobook featuring the private Polaroids of 11 popular JAV stars
- For H manga lovers, we have some nice new comics posted for you, including the very cool anthology Gorgeous Sisters Stories by Tsukasa, the lovely Caramel Lip by Tenma Comics, and Runaway Daughter by AV Comics
- Yasu has restocked many manga volumes, too, including Michael Plan, Skirt Chasers, Condensed Milky, Beast Toys and more
- Also, from the excellent people at Behind Moon who make such wonderful hermaphrodite-themed doujinshi and CG collections, we’ve got their latest: a cool new CD-ROM of dynamite images for you
- For DVD collectors, we’ve got some great new items, starting with the great Blue File DVD release of Naho Ozawa, featuring 3 complete video releases compiled onto one disc for you (region free)
- Then welcome yourself to the Max Cafe, a very special place where the stylish Ryoko Mitake is waiting to serve you (region free)
- Then, for fans of Soft on Demand’s wacky “newscaster play,” enjoy the lovely Nana Natsume who brings you all the “H news” (region free)
- We’ve got another “teacher’s pet” DVD by SOD, too, featuring the lovely Mizuki Yoshizawa and Minami Aoyama (region free)
- Next up, return to Hungary to see the dynamite performances by natural girls there, filmed by Japanese directors and Japanese actors (region free)
- Then we’ve got the lovely Kazuha Murayama starring in a great new wet offering in the Dream Shower series — don’t miss it (region 2)
- Finally, we’ve restocked many popular DVD titles for you, including Super Angle of Oppai by Anna Ohura, Kyoko Ayana Complete, and great titles by Ami Ayukawa, Mai Sakashita and more!
Remember that we’re still having our great $1 shipping sale on all English-translated dating-sim games. Since we’ve got a huge variety of games in stock for you, with a variety of themes from romantic to dramatic school sim to comedy and more, we hope you’ll check out what we’ve got for you!
Also remember that J-List carries excellent magazine by our “reserve subscription.” This means that you can get great anime, JPOP, fashion and other magazines sent to you as soon as the new issue is out in Japan — a few days earlier than newsstands receive them here, in fact. Hundreds of customers are getting great new Japanese magazines through J-List, and we are happy to serve you all. Payment through any method is fine (credit card, check or money order, etc) and you can stop your subscription at any time.