Hello again from J-List. I’ve made the hop from from Japan to my hometown of San Diego, where I’ll spend some quality time with my family and prepare for the summer conventions, starting with Phoenix Comic Con and Anime Expo. Will you be there this year?
One theme I write about often is how Japan lacks inflation, which sounds nice at first — who wouldn’t be happy if a bowl of ramen today cost the same as it did in 1991? — but in practice is a sign of a stagnating economy. The reason the country has had so much trouble growing economically is related to the massive land-and-asset bubble that burst at the beginning of the 1990s, though unlike the 2008 financial crisis, when the U.S. government took swift action to support troubled industries, the Japanese government took years to do anything, which caused damage that’s still being felt today.
While it’s true that Japan has very low inflation in general, there are a few areas where prices seem to be on the rise. One is hotels in Tokyo. As the 2020 Olympics approach, Tokyo is preparing for a huge onslaught of visitors, and with the increased demand hotel room rates are going up sharply. (For reference, staying at the Park Hyatt, the hotel from Lost in Translation, will set you back US$550 a night.) Some industries are experiencing problems filling positions, and I’ve heard restaurants in Nagoya have to pay their staff $18-20 an hour to keep Toyota from hiring them to work in factories, which are surging. Finally, Japan is having a “dessert boom” right now, with shops like Baskin Robbins or “Dessert Kingdom” (a chain that sells nothing but exotic desserts) becoming very popular. These wonderful treats aren’t cheap, though, and help pull prices upwards, which is actually a good thing in the end.
There are some rather unique professions in Japan, from the waitresses who work at catgirl maid cafes to “rice sommeliers” who ensure the best rice is chosen for patrons in restaurants to people who hand out those handy pocket tissues (the kind you get with every J-List order) on street corners in Japanese cities. In addition to normal taxis there are what are known as daikosha, or “replacement drivers,” essentially a taxi with two drivers, one of whom will drive you home in your own car, with the other car following behind, a great option for when you’ve had too much to drink but need your car the next morning. Another important job are bank employees who stand guard by the ATM machines and watch for elderly customers who might be victims of furikome sagi or bank wire fraud, in which someone calls an elderly person, often posing as their grandson, and says they need to wire $10,000 to a bank account immediately to avoid some legal or other problem.
Our big announcement today is the launch of preorders for the amazing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 oppai mousepads, which are full sized and simply amazing to touch or play with. There are two mousepads in this release, Honoka and Marie Rose, and preorders will be only open from April 27 through May 15 only (so order now). See the official site and “boob physics” movie at Mousepad.moe, or preorder them now and get 10% off!