Hello again from Japan, the home of Melon Soda, a popular soft drink here (good with vanilla ice cream in it too).
Japan has long been famous for being a very safe country with very little crime. Within reason, you can probably leave a camera on a park bench and come back several hours to find it still there, and I had a friend who managed to lose his wallet in different parts of the country three times, and each time it was turned into the police with money still inside. Over the past decade with all its economic troubles, though, there has been an unfortunate increase in crime here. Robberies occur all too regularly, and our rural liquor shop has been broken into twice by crooks searching for cash to steal. Other crimes, such as leaving phone messages from pay-for-access return numbers so that they incur charges if they return the call, or trying to get parents to repay bogus “debts” their children have incurred, are popular with the yakuza. Japan’s still a very safe place — it’s big news when there’s a murder in our prefecture of 2 million — but of course no place is perfect.
Since America is generally made up of people who originally came from somewhere else, it’s interesting to ask people you meet about their ancestry (mine is a pretty generic mix of Irish and English). While Japanese people have lots of Mongolian, Korean and Ainu blood sloshing through their veins, they usually consider themselves to be just “Japanese,” with no thought given to any other ancestry they might possess. (Japan’s Korean minority, which goes out of its way to preserve their own native traditions and language inside Japan, are an exception.) In lieu of tracing what countries their forebears may hail from, Japanese are often quite aware of which of the four traditional classes their ancestors belonged to during the Edo period (1603-1868): samurai, farmer, craftsmen or merchant. Foreigners joke that all Japanese insist that their ancestors were samurai, but according to my wife, her family was originally part of a samurai family based in in Ota under the Tokugawa shogun (we have a famous family crest and everything).
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 indeed black). 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. I was asked by a friend, a Japanese woman who grew up in Peru, if I saw the world through a blue or green tint because of the color of my eyes, which kind of freaked me out.
For the new update, we’ve got some excellent restocked and updated products for you, including photobooks, manga, DVD titles (all varieties), toys (including the new Pinky Street figures), delicious snack items (Tea Dog and new Pocky!), cool wacky and traditional items from Japan (traditional Japanese door curtains!), and more. Check out all the great items we have in stock for you! View all items updated over the past three days with this link: http://www.jlist.com/UDPATES/3/
Remember that J-List carries dozens of rare and cool items by Shirow Masamune, the creator of Ghost in the Shell (which spawned The Matrix), and pretty much the most incredible artist in Japan today. He’s an accomplished hentai artist as well, and you can enjoy his incredible illustrations in the Galgrease posterbooks which we have in stock. Each posterbook set features four double-sized posters and comes with a pack of cards. Get all three sets and get 15% off, too.