I remember when I first started learning Japanese, I wondered how Japanese text entry could work on a computer. I pictured some horrible keyboard with hundreds of keys, but in reality, Japanese computers use the same QWERTY keyboards as everyone else. Japanese input is accomplished through a front-end processor, basically a program that ships with Japanese Windows and all copies of Mac OS X that handles converting your text into the correct mix of hiragana, katakana and kanji before it’s pasted into your document. With Japanese text input selected, you type some text with the keyboard — for example, aoi sora (青い空） which means “blue sky.” Hit the space bar, and the computer will convert the text you’ve just typed into the kanji/kana combination it thinks you want, although sometimes problems can occur here, as there are often alternate or archaic kanji in the computer’s dictionaries (e.g. 蒼い, or names like 葵). When you get used to the system, you can enter Japanese text quite quickly, although there’s a downside — entering Japanese into a computer becomes so easy that it’s easy to forget how to write kanji manually. As with operating systems, there are various kanji entry systems on the market, and users will rally around one product or the other — users of EG Bridge might flame fans of ATOK, with both camps expressing their disgust for Kotoeri. Although the Japanese enter words in romaji these days, i.e. normal alphabetical order, there is an alternate kana layout for keyboards that some still use (which is why there are kana characters printed on the USB keyboards that we sell).
The Japanese love to abbreviate long, hard to pronounce words. Whether its lopping off some kanji to change Tokyo Daigaku (東京大学） (Tokyo University) into the more manageable Todai (東大）, or coining new terms by combining kanji into words like Hanshin (阪神） which uses characters from Osaka （大阪） and Kobe （神戸) to refer to the general area of both cities, the Japanese are efficient speakers. They also use many of the common abbreviations found in English, but sometimes they can sound a little odd to English ears. The Japanese find it easier to pronounce some acronyms such as JAL (Japan Air Lines), ANA (All Nippon Airways), LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and even VIP as if they were normal words (e.g. “jal” “ana” “lax” and “vip”) rather than as a series of letters. Believe me, the word VIP sounds very odd when you hear it pronounced as a word rather than spelled out.
We’re big fans of Japanese pop music, and love to promote interest in it wherever we can — for example, in the fall J-List carries hundreds of amazing large-format calendars printed exclusively for the Japanese market. JPOP fans all over the world were excited when Apple launched their iTunes Music Store here, but unfortunately the store requires that buyers have a credit card issued in Japan in order to make purchases. Happily, there’s another way for fans to buy Japanese music through the iTMS — iTunes Music Cards, which are available through J-List now! These prepaid cards are available in increments of 2500, 5000 or 10,000 yen, and all music is fully compatible with your iPod and iTunes for Mac or PC.
“Suddenly, without warning, love takes you by surprise…” J-List sells the unique PC dating-sims from Japan, called ren’ai (“love”) or bishoujo (“pretty girl”) games here. One of our favorites is a title that was released in Japan in English called Casual Romance Club. In the game you interact with a host of incredibly cute girls, chatting on your cell phone and going on dates before you decide if you want to go further. In addition to being a great game, it comes with a fabulous full color artbook, the most amazing game manual you’ll ever see. We’re happy to announce we’ve lowered the price of this exceptional title to just $49.95. Enjoy this classic dating-sim at its new lower price.