Happy New Year from your Friend in Japan®, J-List! We hope 2017 is a peaceful and happy hear for you and your loved ones. I’m posting from sunny Bali in Indonesia, where I’m taking a few days off work to relax with the family and recover from the busy Christmas season. While I’m gone, the J-List staff will make sure everything runs smoothly, so get your order in now! (And use the new $15 coupon.)
When you first come to a country as different from home as Japan is, naturally there’s a gap between your expectations and what you actually find here. Though it might be embarrassing, it’s not impossible to imagine a fan of anime, manga and game culture who goes to Japan and is let down when he sees that, rather than being a glorious shrine to pop culture, life there is people doing ho-hum things like riding the train to work, paying their bills at the local convenience store and so on. Before I arrived in Japan I pictured some kind of Blade Runner-influenced sprawling urban world, but of course the area I ended up in is quite rural. (Though J-List is one of the largest IT-related businesses in our city, we’re surrounded by rice fields.) I asked the J-List Facebook page what surprised readers encountered when they visited Japan, and got several interesting answers, which included:
・surprise at the low level of English conversation skills by the average person (what do you expect? Japanese only study 6 year of English, or up to 10 if they took it in university)
・surprise at seeing “spaghetti like” electric wires above every street (Japan rarely buries its electric and phone cables underground)
・ surprise at seeing almost no old cars on the roads (there’s a tax/maintenance fee drivers have to pay every 2 years, which encourages you to buy a new car rather than keep driving your old one, so cars older than 12-15 years are rare unless they’re popular with collectors)
・a reader who was amazed to stay in a home in Shirakawa-go that was older than the period their home country of Australia had been a Western colony.
It’s a new year, which is a time for new beginnings. The Japanese aren’t really into New Year’s Resolutions — I just asked my son what his was and I had to explain what the words meant, even in Japanese. While 2016 was a good year for J-List, I’m hoping to make 2017 even better. In addition to my health goals (I’ve been on a big health kick for the past two years, hitting the gym and dropping 50 lbs), I want to work hard at various goals, including being a better husband and father, and of course a better anime blogger. I also hope to keep better perspective in my life. All too often, it’s easy to think that the world is just terrible because of this or that political event, when in reality we live in the most amazing time humanity has yet known, sitting in air conditioned spaces holding hand-held computers that allow us to communicate with people on the other side of the planet instantly, or get in an airplane and visit faraway lands for a few hundred dollars, all while being protected from more diseases than ever by modern science. Anyway, thanks for your support in 2016, and yoroshiku onegai shimasu in 2017!
It’s a new year, a time for new beginnings. It’s also a great excuse to give you, are awesome J-List customers, a nice gift! Through January 9, you can get $15 off any J-List order of $50 or more using code NEWYEARJLIST. What are some items do you want to buy? Make your order now!