Your Friend in Japan

Reflecting on 20 Years of J-List, and Winter Uniform Season

Written by HotAnime

Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of me founding J-List, so it’s a good time to look back at all the changes that we’ve seen since the company started in business. 1996 was a very different time from today, and many of the things we take for granted, like fast Internet and Wi-Fi and convenient mobile devices, were not yet a part of daily life. Even the idea of e-commerce was still new, and buying a bento box or a “Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend” kanji T-shirt online felt much different than it does today. We weren’t just creating an online shop in the early days of the Internet era: since Japan is generally a decade or so behind the U.S. socially and technologically, trying to make a company like J-List in semi-rural Japan almost made it feel like 1986 rather than 1996 at times, dealing with distributors who had yet to computerize their inventory, let alone embrace the Internet. J-List wasn’t the first company I started: I’d begun licensing and translating visual novels the year before with the predecessor to JAST USA. Actually, J-List was really started as a side business I intended to run for a short time while we waited for the eroge side of things to take off, though it turned out to be the soul of our company. Thanks for being great customers all these years, and enjoy our new Treasure Hunt contest!

October is one of my favorite months in Japan, because the weather is usually mild, and it’s enjoyable to sit outside and do 月見 tsukimi, or autumn moon-viewing, while fireflies dance around. The beginning of October is also time for衣替え koromo-gae, the official changing from summer to winter school uniforms, which is done on the same day throughout Japan. (Okinawa, being extra warm, gets to wear their summer uniforms for two months longer than the rest of the country.) Of course, the weather doesn’t always get the memo, and sometimes the students have to wear their winter uniforms even though the heat and humidity of summer haven’t abated yet. Like many aspects of Japan there’s more to the clothes-changing custom than meets the eye, and it turns out that it dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185), when the Emperor would commemorate the seasons by officially changing his ceremonial kimonos from winter to summer or vice-versa.

Thanks for helping J-List reach this important milestone. We’ve decided to have a fun new contest, a 20th Anniversary Treasure Hunt in which you look for clues and answer questions by looking at newest product pages. You could win a gift certificate for $200, one of three deluxe J-list Box snack sets, or a $10 gift certificate. Enter now, either on the or domain.

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