Being a Japanophile (Asianphile for that matter) stuck in the Western world can be tough. It seems that little apart from kiddie anime and samurais make it to this country. I mean how much Pokemon, Gundam, and Sailor Moon can one handle? Sure, you occasionally get a treat like seeing Lolita #18 in concert, or meeting Puffy on an elevator, but that’s not nearly enough.
When you can find books, magazines, or products from the Far East, the prices are so jacked up you can’t buy them in good conscience. I mean, who’d pay thirty bucks for a five-dollar magazine? Ebay offers some solace, but the price inflation makes it little more than a tease.
Then along comes jlist.com. This Web site is a mail order company in Japan run by Peter Payne, an American English teacher living in Japan, and is must stop Web site for any Japanophile. Although a good portion of the site is comprised of S & M photo books, hentai, and schoolgirl magazines, there are plenty of non-adult items there to make it far more than a place to buy Japanese softcore porn. They stock everything from ear cleaners, to rice ball makers, bento boxes to toys, and even snacks and food, like the ever-popular Pocky! (For those who don’t know, Pocky is a long thin pretzel dipped in chocolate). They also have familiar faces like Hello Kitty on items not likely to show up at the mall. Hello Kitty vibrators and toilet paper and staples are all available at jlist.com.
To make it even better, the items don’t have to be imported first, so they are sold with no discernable markup. Also, since the site is headed by an American, you don’t have the difficult to read translations on product descriptions. The service is top notch. I have received merchandise from them faster than from companies in the U.S.
Another jlist plus is their e-mail updates. This is one opt-in you want to go for. Each update aside from the new product listings gives some really fun and interesting tidbits about real life in Japan. Everything from help with Japanese pronunciations, to Japanese holidays, to the troubles of Westerners trying to get a Japanese driver’s license.