Hello again from J-List. We’re a day late with the update because of some database related problems, but the update is finally ready. And what an update it is…
One of the more interesting aspects of Japanese is their strong tendency to be humble, being polite by putting one’s self down in order to raise others up. If you’ve ever complimented a Japanese person on their English only to have them deny your compliment strongly, you’ve experienced what Japanese call kenson (ken-SON, which means humility). You can see this at work in Japan’s group culture — each member of a group of people trying to decide which restaurant they all want to eat at will gently probe and test the other members before putting forth a suggestion. Successful learners of a language inevitably go beyond mere grammar and vocabulary, actually internalizing the values of the group you’re interacting with. When I’m in Japan I find my “Japanese” personality is much more low-key and humble than my outgoing American self.
Another side of Japan’s famous humility can be seen in the times and places where apologies are used, often in situations that English speakers would have trouble comprehending. When I first got to Japan, some friends took me to a sento, a public bath with a sauna. It was late, near closing time, and we were a little slow getting out of the bath, which caused inconvenience for the staff who were trying to clean up so they could go home. I thanked the lady at the counter as I left, using the Japanese phrase “arigatou gozaimashita.” But my Japanese friends corrected me, saying I should apologize instead, using the word “sumimasen deshita.” I was confused — why apologize when I’m trying to thank the lady for letting us stay past closing time? “Thank you sounds cheap,” I was told. “In this case it’s better to use words of apology.” As I was shaving this morning I watched a news report about executives of the Fuji Television Network issuing a formal apology over an incident involving camera crews who used eyewitness reports that had been faked in order to make them sound more dramatic (which is called yarase, ya-RAH-say, a common problem with television here). Since the news station I was watching was on the Fuji network, the newscaster bowed his head low to the camera and apologized again, right in the middle of reading the news.
Today’s a big day at J-List, because we’ve posted our popular Japanese calendars! Every year in the fall hundreds of large-format glossy calendars are released in the Japanese market, and once again J-List is making them available to fans all over the world. If you’ve never seen these Japanese calendars, they’re really amazing — huge poster-sized sheets of thick stock paper, with beautiful printing and photography and art that will really make your year special. This year’s calendars are extra nice, with many items that we think will be very popular, including anime, JPOP, sexy idol, and more — there’s even a Domo-kun calendar this year! Ayumi Hamasaki finally broke her 4-year record of claiming the coveted “CL1” spot, losing out to the super-cute Aya Ueto, the cheerful idol and actress.
The calendars we’ve got for you are preorder, so it’s best if you can order with credit card, so we can hold the order until it’s ready to be shipped to to you (but this is not a requirement). Rolled calendars require a mailing tube, which is $2 and one tube can hold two calendars. As in previous years, if you buy 4 or more calendars you’ll get 15% off, and get your mailing tubes for free! As usual, we don’t have the calendars in stock yet, so we had to scan the small sample image so you can see what the calendar covers are like. To help you make a decision about which calendars you want, we’ve posted sample images from last year’s calendars for most items. Enjoy browsing our great Japanese calendars, and remember, they make great Christmas gifts for that otaku on your list!