Sunday was the centennial of the death of Lafcadio Hearn, one of the first gaijin to “turn Japanese” and live in Japan permanently, writing about all that he saw here. Born on a Greek island in 1850 and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he emigrated to the U.S. and worked for a time in newspapers. In 1890, he came to Japan to teach at Tokyo University and was immediately taken with the beauty of everything he saw here. He wrote many books, including Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan, and was a major bridge between Japan and the West during these years. He married the daughter of a samurai and became a naturalized Japanese citizen, taking the name of Yakumo Koizumi and converting to Buddhism. A lot of the impressions of Japan we have today came through Hearn’s writings, and the character of Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai was based partially on him.
Fall is here, and in Japan that means it’s time for Fall Traffic Safety Week, a special time when Japanese police go out of their way to promote traffic safety, enforce seatbelt laws, and check for drunk drivers. The goal is to make everyone aware of their own driving and help reduce accidents. Traffic accidents are the 5th leading cause of death in Japan; there were 8,000 deaths in 2003, compared with 42,000 in the U.S. The Japanese do many things to promote what they call “safety driving,” including carrying traffic safety good luck charms (omamori) and posting safety slogans on overpasses on the freeway to remind drivers to drive slowly and give the right-of-way to the cars in front of you. On the other hand, Japan didn’t enact a child carseat law until 1999, and up til that time it was quite common to see housewives driving with their kids standing up in the car — very dangerous.
For a country that loves English enough to make cars named Mazda Bongo Friendy and Mitsubishi Bravo Exceed, you’d think there’d be a lot of English in use here. Well, outside of people who happen to work alongside foreigners in special jobs (like the hardworking Japanese staff of J-List), there isn’t any more English in daily use in Japan than there is French use in the U.S. Although every can of beer and canned coffee has a decorative English description on it — “Sapporo beer is made from the finest hops for a delicious taste and refinement” — you’d be surprised how easy it is to find yourself standing on a train platform with not a single sign in English telling you which train to get on. Since I read Japanese, I tend not to notice it that much, but whenever I’ve got friends from the U.S. out for a visit, I realize how difficult little things like getting around the country can be. The Japanese do their best to promote “internationalization” but it can be difficult with so few native English speakers in the country.
Just when you thought we couldn’t have a better selection of 2005 Japanese calendars: announcing even more soon-to-be-released anime calendars from Kodansha, including Tenjo Tenge, One Piece, Naruto, Prince of Tennis, Tsubasa and Holic, Magic Teacher Negima, Samurai Deeper Kyo, G-Taste, and more. These anime calendars are extra-large, with thick glossy card-stock for pages and spiral-type bindings (so you can keep the calendars for years without removing the pages). They’re shipped flat, not rolled, and no mailing tubes are needed. Preorder these very special calendars today, as our stock will be limited!
J-List carries virtually all the English-translated dating-sim games available from Japan, and now we’ve got a new offering for you: Idols Galore!, a new title in which you manage the careers of Japan’s top pop stars. The pop idol world is very competitive though, and sometimes the girls have to give some special attention to their manager to stay in his good graces. A wacky new game from G-Collections, in stock and shipping now. Unlike the Japanese version, this game is fully uncensored.
For the new update, we’ve got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:
- First, for fans of the incredibly detailed Mononofu series, which features historical swords and weapons out of history rendered in incredible die-cast metal (wow), we have the super 4th series, featuring armor from Japan and Europe
- The Japanese are masters at engineering things to be small and precise — we have some excellent small pen-keychains that enable you to carry a great pen with you anywhere you go
- For fans of Japanese snacks, enjoy delicious pickled plums, tasty rice crackers, and delicious milk candies, made with “Jersey Milk” (although New Jersey is a bit far from Japan)
- Also a favorite of mine: yummy raisin cookies from Bourbon, as well as a general restocking of Japanese chewing gum
- For Miyazaki and Lupin the 3rd fans, a treat — a set of heroines from the Lupin series, including the classic female characters created by Hayao Miyazaki for the series
- If you love Japan’s cute culture, we have an amazing PostPet figure that moves when you clap or make noise
- For JPOP fans, enjoy a new photobook featuring the lovely Ai Takahashi, of Morning Musume, an incredibly charming and beautiful face
- Star Wars fans, we have fresh stock of the cool Star Wars Lego vehicles, sold only in the Japanese market
- For your kitchen: some really cool chopsticks with classic ukiyoe images on them
- If you’re a fan of the Sailor Moon live-action series, which features super-cute live-action actresses playing the Sailor Senshi, we have the new DVD in stock (region 2)
- We have some nifty “practice chopsticks” that make it easy to eat like a pro — they come with little fish you can practice picking up
- Next, we have more wacky “pin badges” (funny pins with cute characters on them)
- Also, an all-purpose carrying case for anything from an iPod to important personal documents
- Studying Japanese? We’ve restocked our very affordable mini dictionaries for you
- Finally, find a cute spoon for Hello Kitty fans, more delicious petit pizza snacks, and more!
For our 18+ customers, we’ve got many new products. The new items include:
- For fans of extremely built Japanese gals, we have the new issue of Gal’s Dee, which has renamed itself Poroon (pronounced “poh-rohn”), which is the sound of, er, something bouncing
- Next, the new issue of Nuichauzo, translated as “I’m Gonna Get You Off,” featuring deliciously evil Japanese girls in love hotels
- For fans of Japan’s gorgeous hardcover photobooks, enjoy the elegant hardcover offering of Takako Yamada, a fabulously beautiful Japanese model
- We have another volley of great doujinshi for you, with new just-released books that feature beautiful artwork
- For our H manga collectors, we have three excellent new books for you, including Radical Girl by Sakura Mitono, the elegant Chikan Play by Tsukasa Comics, and a fascinating shoujo crossover H comic
- For our yaoi customers, be sure to pick up the new issue of Muscle Men before it sells out
- DVD collectors, enjoy some great new DVDs for you, starting with Sakura Shiratori’s debut as an ultra high-class soap girl (region free)
- Then enjoy 3 hours of excellent performances in a new Blue File offering by Anna Suzukaze, a pure and lovely star from Japan (region free)
- Then lovely Tokyo girls engage in a “sweat endurance contest” to see who can endure being in a hot room in the middle of summer, a bizarre indies concept from SOD (region free)
- Next, we have a dynamite “wet” offering from Waap, featuring nine gorgeous JAV starlets getting spewn on big time (region 2)
- Then, from Moodyz, the super debut of a dynamite star, Hikari Kisugi, stars in her first indies production, a treat for everyone! (region 2)
- We’ve restocked several DVD titles, including several by Aoi Sora, and added new “free shipping DVDs” for you too!
Remember that J-List carries a wide variety of snacks from Japan, with about 150 different items in stock at all times, with everything from Pocky (all flavors) to Japan’s famous caffeine gum, Black Black. Because J-List is based at the source, right there in the heart of Japan, we’ve got hundreds of cool and fun items that have never made it out of Japan, which you can order. We are always adding to our snack section too, so check back often!