As a student of a foreign language, I know that there’s no “magic” way to learn, and even if you live in a country where the target language is spoken, you need to work hard in order to master it. My son is one of the only kids at his special English school who are haafu (half), and since he has a native English speaker for a father, some of his classmates assume that he magically absorbs English through my DNA. The truth is that we use what I call the Corellian Approach to Communication, after Han Solo’s homeworld in Star Wars: I speak English to him (like Han) and he speaks Japanese back to me (like Chewbacca’s growling). The problem is that I’m “defined” as a Japanese-speaking person in his mind, and it’s very hard to change a linguistic relationship once it’s established. He’s been preparing to take level 2 of Japan’s infamous “Eiken” test, since it’s always nice to have something to shoot for when studying, but there’s a problem: not only are the English words on the high school-level test quite difficult, he hasn’t learned the kanji used in the textbooks yet. To keep him from getting frustrated, I came up with a game to fit the vocabulary words he was memorizing into the Star Wars movies, which he’s quite familiar with. The word “compensate” is a hard word for an 11-year-old boy to learn, but when you can tie it to a scene with Boba Fett (“What if he doesn’t survive? He’s worth a lot to me.” “The Empire will compensate you if he dies.”), it becomes much easier.
Duck! Oh! That’s! These are examples of some of the more bizarre English that we see daily in Japan, printed on the sides of trucks, plastered on jackets, painted carefully on automobiles. Since all Japanese study six years of English in school (or up to ten years if they take it it in college), most people have a basic working knowledge of English, even if they can’t always communicate fluently. One aspect of the Japanese I learned pretty quickly upon coming here was that they don’t think too deeply about the English used around them, and so it’s not at all rare to find a person wearing a T-shirt that has meaningless English like “the situation is not favorable in for us against” or “Splush! is not only the problem of age” on it. In part because English has an air of mystery to the Japanese, a certain je ne sais quoi, it can be useful for companies trying to sell products. Some of the more interesting English product names I’ve come across include Oh, Hot! (spicy miso paste for ramen), Clean Up! (a line of kitchen appliances), Perky Bit (chicken nuggets), and Pocari Sweat (the venerable Japanese sports drink). Some products, such as cars, are always named in English or English-sounding words, like Corolla, Camry, Cephiro, Fairlady Z and Bongo Friendee. A car with a Japanese name would sound as strange to people here as Mitsubishi Thanks Chariot Super Saloon does to you and me.
J-List loves the genre known as PC dating-sim games, and we think they’re a satisfying way to interface with Japan on a new level. We carry virtually every English-translated story-based “H” game available, and there are titles for every taste, no matter what characters, stories or themes you’re interested in. This year has also seen the release of the first yaoi PC game, a great new genre for fans to try. We’re happy to announce that our newest yaoi title, Absolute Obedience, has gone “golden master” and will be shipping soon. In this innovative new game, you play one of two roles, the dashing and refined Louise Hardwich or his rough partner Kia WelBehenna, playing a dozen unique game missions, each with multiple endings. With fantastic art and stories, we hope that all fans of “BL” games will support our efforts to grow this genre by getting the game. You can still preorder it and get free shipping when it ships!
Now that it’s cooled off, we’ve started selling chocolate items again, such as Pocky, famous all around the world as an icon of Japan. The 2006 Fall Season includes some great new varieties, including today’s Black Sesame Seed and Five Fruits Pocky and Decorer Pocky (short for “decoration cake”) in Apple Cream Custard and Grape Mild Chocolate. We’re happy to announce the return of another rare product for Japanese snack fans: Green Tea Kit Kat, the supremely delicious Nestle Kit Kat made with flavorful green tea from Uji, Japan (near Kyoto). Available in deluxe bags that are brimming with individual wrapped “two finger” packages, we’ve got limited stock of this delicious treat (less than 200), so we recommend that Kit Kat aficionados pick some up soon, before it all goes.
In other news: we’ve gotten the first batch of 2007 calendars in stock early, with several dozen large-format anime, JPOP, sexy idol and other unique calendars on the site and ready for immediate purchase. These calendars, which are made exclusively for the Japanese domestic market, are a great way to make your year a really special one — they make great gifts, too. Newly in stock include Mihiro, Aoi Miyazaki, Shinkansen, Naruto, Totoro, Chisato Morishita, and many more. As we get the actual calendars in stock, we’ll be adding photographs showing the internal pages, so you can see how nice the photos are. Browse our stock of calendars now!