The Summer Comic Market has just ended, the 90th bi-annual event held since the popular convention started way back in 1975. For three days more than 500,000 people thronged the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, cheerfully buying doujinshi, Touhou music CDs and games plus many other products. While Comiket is famous internationally for those “naughty” fan-made comics, this is a function of the “lens of the Internet,” making us see certain aspects of Japan more easily than others, and the vast majority of items sold at the event are non-adult. Because Comiket is three times larger than the San Diego Comic-Con, there’s a system of complex rules that has evolved governing, for example, where and how to photograph ‘layers (cosplayers), with fans using stopwatches to limit the amount of time each cosplayer has to pose, to keep them from getting too tired.
Japan is in the middle of its Obon Buddhist holidays, a time when families celebrate the symbolic return of their dead ancestors for a visit. Most Japanese will take the opportunity to travel to their parents’ home to burn incense at the family grave and, oddly, make little chopstick horses out of eggplants and cucumbers, which symbolize the horses your family members ride home. It’s a nice time for family, though a mild inconvenience, since the roads are jammed with cars and all J-List’s suppliers close up shop for a week.
The subject of Japan’s religion is a complex one. When asked, most Japanese will answer that they have no religion, though as they get older they realize they’re Buddhist after all, and start paying more attention to such things. Buddhism in Japan is somewhat separate from other countries in that it’s primarily about remembering one’s ancestors, which is really at the heart of Japan’s spiritual life. I’ve often observed that Japanese will sometimes say they felt the spirit of their dead grandmother guiding them through troubled times, in the same way a Christian might feel the hand of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
Although we update the J-List site three times a week, we’re adding new products every day, and we’ve been posting some great Japanese snacks to the site for summer recently, from Salt Milky that helps you combat the heat to fun anime snacks. Browse our snack selection now!