Your Friend in Japan

Gift Giving and $140 Melons, plus My Search for Nude Anime Girls

Written by HotAnime

Hello again from Japan. We’re having a 15% off sale on all T-shirts and “ecchi” grab bags based in San Diego, which our customers love! We also had some against website outages earlier today, which we hope are behind us. Thanks for your understanding if you were affected!

This one of my favorite times of the year, when we can give and receive some really special gifts. I’m not talking about Christmas: no, this is the season for oseibo, one of two seasonal gift-giving seasons (along with ochuugen, in August) when Japanese people give boxes of pre-packaged gifts such as canned coffee or juice, laundry detergent, soy sauce, salad oil and exotic cured ham to the important people in their lives, including relatives and neighbors. You also exchange these gifts with your boss, and twice a year my wife and I send mochi rice cakes or canned vegetable juice to the hardworking staff of J-List, and receive a favorite baumkuchen roll cake or Kobe beef in return. In accordance with gift giving rules, you always make sure the value of a return gift is comparable to the original, to keep things balanced. Companies exchange these gifts, too, and J-List has relationships with companies like Nitroplus (Super Sonico, Steins;Gate), StoneHead (makers of the soon-to-ship Nympho Sensei Ryoko), and SoftGarage, who make those legendary full-size mousepads, trading boxes of gifts that can be divided up among all the staff. Incidentally, those $140 honeydew melons you may have read about are related to this gift-giving culture. The melons have been hand-grown with the greatest of care, and are for when you really need to make an impression on someone, like potential future in-laws.

Over the weekend I went into Tokyo to see the new Star Wars movie (it’s great, go see it!) then do some sightseeing in Tokyo. After hitting some museums in Ueno Park, I realized I’d never visited the giant Gundam in Odaiba, so I made the journey across Tokyo bay to check it out. I then visited Oedo Onsen Monogatari, a unique hot springs bath I learned about because it was featured in an episode of Denkiya no Hon’ya-san, about employees who work at a bookstore in Akihabara. (The scene where the girls accidentally walk out into the common room nude was hilarious.) The place is quite fun: you pick out a yukata cotton kimono and put it on, entering a large area that recreates old Edo of 150 years ago, with bars, restaurants and fun souvenir shopping in addition to bath areas for men and women. I expected it to be rather tourist-ey and silly, and it was, but it was also surprisingly fun. If you’ve got plans to visit Japan in 2017, or even a long-ish layover at Narita, give the place a try!

Don’t look now, but we’ve got another one of those super giant full-sized mousepads from SoftGarage, this time Muramasa from the popular game by Nitroplus. The thing is nearly 20 inches long! Imagine how much quality “wrist support” you can look forward to!

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