Hello again from J-List. I’ve taken a few days off for a brief vacation with Mrs. J-List to Las Vegas, a trip we take every year. There we’ll drink down a few pina coladas and relax by the pool while we prepare for the insanity that Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con will be, since they’re back-to-back this year. While I’m gone, the hardworking J-List staff will make sure your packages are shipped out with no delay!
I’m enjoying my time back in San Diego, catching up with family and eating lots of Chipotle. I’ve been on an exercise kick over the last nine months and wanted to keep my positive forward momentum, so I got a membership to the local YMCA, though this has led to some reverse culture shock for me. Japan is not a country for early birds, and the gym in my semi-rural city of Isesaki opens at 10 am; but the YMCA branches in San Diego start at an amazingly early 4:30 am, with exercises classes from 5:30. (I’m barely in bed by this hour.) Compared to the local YMCA branches, my gym back in Japan is a very social place, with a dozen or so retired men and women sitting on the mats pretending to stretch while having conversations about recent events. They’re not getting a workout in, but they might be getting something better, since close social interaction is important for humans to live long, healthy lives. The Japanese draw a close distinction between “outdoors” (dirty) and “indoors” (clean), and this is why shoes are always removed before coming inside a home or many businesses. While members of a gym in Japan will always bring “indoor” shoes (athletic shoes that have only been used indoors) with them for working out, at the YMCA everyone seems to wear their “dirty” (to the Japanese) outdoor shoes inside the gym, even standing on yoga mats with these shoes on, which would be positively scandalous if done in Japan.
If there’s one thing the Japanese are good at, it’s gift-giving, and one of the most enjoyable kinds of gifts to give and receive are おみやげ omiyage (pronounced oh-me-yah-geh), or souvenirs given to friends, family and coworkers after returning from a journey. Buying of these gifts is a subject that was explored in a recent episode of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki. The other day I caught one of Japan’s “ranking” shows on TV, which introduced the most popular omiyage gifts from each region of Japan. These included the top brand of “castella” cake from Nagasaki, these oddly named but delicious chinsuko cookies from Okinawa (the name is close enough to chinpoko, a childish word for penis, that it makes mainland Japanese giggle), and a white chocolate cookie from Hokkaido with the interesting name of “White Lovers.” If you ever plan a visit to Japan it’s considered good manners to bring along some gifts for anyone you know you’ll be meeting while here (homestay family, etc.), or even some extra gifts for folks just in case. Pretty much any fun thing from your corner of the world will do, like beef jerky, macadamia nuts or chocolates. One word of warning: giving gifts can expose you to a “gift war,” as Japanese are very serious about お返し o-kaeshi, or giving a return gift when they receive one.
We’ve got more good news: Tentacle Grape, that fun carbonated grape drink with the ecchi name is once again in stock at our warehouse! The J-List staff took delivery of a huge amount of the awesome beverage, which has been totally reformulated to use real sugar, and have started shipping out the bottles to preorder customers. Why not put an order for awesome Tentacle Grape in today? (We’re still only shipping to the continental U.S. states but will upgrade our shipping options once we’ve checked rates for international etc.)