One of the more important areas of life in Japan is gift-giving, and there are many traditions of giving presents, from the twice-yearly gifts given to teachers, neighbors and one’s boss (the last one is partially to butter him up so you can get a better bonus) to carefully tracking “return gifts” — for example, if your friend attended your wedding, bringing a cash gift of $300, you make sure to return the favor when they get married. Another big area of gift-giving are omiyage, or souvenirs brought back to family and friends after visiting an interesting place. In past years my Japanese employee Yasu, who stocks our site with excellent manga, artbooks and Japanese study products, has bought different omyage gifts for the Japan staff, like American cigarettes (Newport Lights, a well-known brand that’s not available in Japan), cheap T-shirts from Target or those 5-hour energy drinks. This year, he asked me to take him to Trader Joe’s, a chain of healthy supermarkets. It seems the “eco bags” (reusable shopping bags) from the store are all the rage in Japan, and he bought several to bring back as gifts.
Sunday marked a major election in Japan, so I thought I’d talk about Japanese politics briefly. The election was a solid victory for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Prime Minister Abe, the only Japanese politician besides Junichiro Koizumi (the guy who looked like Richard Gere) who’s managed to serve out his term as Prime Minister without getting chased out of office early by low public support levels. This was the first election in which 18- and 19- year olds could vote (previously the age of adulthood started at 20), and it’s hoped that young people will start to take an interest in politics if they can vote earlier. Of course, the political dynamics of each country are unique. In Japan to be “right-leaning” is to support business, to think that the Emperor is an important institution in Japanese society, and to favor close relations with the United States. To be “left-leaning” is to favor relations with China over the U.S. and to want to bring an end to the Emperor system as an outdated custom of the past.
We’re super happy about the new Sonicomi: Communication with Sonico game which is shipping out now (the Limited Edition form with figure, art cards and Steam key). In the game, you manage Sonico’s career, determining where to take correct photo shoots, is shipping, both as our popular Limited Edition that comes with an original acrylic figure, art cards, the game plus the Steam code, as well as on Steam directly. My favorite part of the game is the photo sessions, which are fully interactive segments in which you have to photograph Sonico from just the right angle. (Upskirts are possible, though she might not like that.) Don’t forget that new Sonico Dakimakura we have up for preorder now, too!