Ogenki desu ka? This is one of the first phrases a student of Japanese encounters, and it corresponds to the greeting “how are you?” although “are you well?” is a better translation as it’s a yes/no question. In the context of this greeting, genki means “fine” or “well” and you can reply to this greeting by saying Hai, genki desu (Yes, I am fine). But genki can have other meanings, such as describing children running around (“energetic”), or someone beaming with happiness about something, or someone getting healthy after an illness. The word can also refer to a man in state of, er, woodiness. The o on ogenki desu ka is an honorific prefix that shows respect, and it’s often found on family titles (okaasan = mother, obaasan = grandmother), Buddhist words (otera = Buddhist temple), and “cute” words often around kids or babies (oshiri = a cute-sounding word for a person’s rear end).
The newest theme in Japan’s political world is eliminating waste, and Japanese municipalities are nothing if not good at wasting the public’s money. Although the concept of company employees enjoying guaranteed lifetime employment faded during the 1990s, Japan’s sprawling layer of bureaucratic komuin (koh-MOO- een), public employees who work in city and prefectural offices, have never had to fear recessions or budget cuts or risutora, the Japanese word for layoffs (from the English word “restructure”). Due to the lack of oversight and years of poor planning, there are too many public employees, three million in the entire country of 120 million, and their salaries add up to a whopping $180 billion a year. Engaging in “bashing” of public employees is a popular pasttime by average Japanese, and my wife is always happy to tell me how slow the clerks moved in the City Office when she went to pick up an official copy of a document. When someone from the city needs to come out to J-List to check on, say, a telephone pole, you can be sure that at least three engineers will show up, two more than are probably needed. Before I started J-List in 1996, I was fortunate to get to work for five months in the local City Office, and I got to see first hand how municipal government worked from the inside. My job was to publish a newsletter for the English-speaking residents of our city, and to act as a bridge between Japanese employees in the city government and foreigners who couldn’t speak the language. Having seen both sides of the coin, I can say that there is a lot of room for improvement in Japan’s municipal government.
Among the many unique products J-List offers are the DVDs, photobooks and magazines of Yulia Nova, a beautiful Russian model who was discovered by a Japanese photographer and became a sensation both here in Japan as well as on the Internet. Her next three DVDs are coming soon, and we’ve posted them for preorder now. The new titles feature all new footage shot over the past year that allows fans to see Yulia in a variety of amazing scenes through three seasons: Moscow in the Winter, Spring and Summer. The new titles are long playing (85 mins. each) and are mosaic-free, too!
J-List sells our wacky original T-shirts with funny slogans in Japanese, as well as unique Japan-related designs. While many stores only stock the most popular sizes of T-shirts (typically M-XL), J-List goes out of our way to make as many sizes as we can available, from S (and even XS, on some of the girl’s shirts) to 2XL and 3XL for the men’s shirts and hoodies. We’ve posted 3XL sized shirts for our popular kanji shirts (Gaijin, Ecchi and Sakebito), so if you need a larger size, come visit J-List now. We’ve also got many close-out designs that we’re clearing out to make room for new shirts, so if you’re on the large side, be sure and browse our site for some bargains!