The Japanese Pinky Swear, and a new kitchen for Peter

Remember, the new J-List site is up and ready for you to browse! The new site features:

  • a modern website with support for tablet or mobile, including full gesture support
  • existing customer accounts, passwords and store credits are all imported to the new system (though wishlists have been reset)
  • both systems are still running, and all orders will be processed, including Shiny Days LE orders (don’t worry)
  • revolving magazine subscriptions are currently off the site but will be restored soon (all subscriptions are still live and will be processed normally)
  • customer history will be imported from the old system over the next week or so
  • not all products are uploaded to the site, so if you see anything you think is missing, ask us
  • we’re still tinkering with the site, and planning on adding many new features

So come on, senpai, and notice J-List’s new website!

I came to Japan in 1991, just as the famous Tokyo Asset Bubble — during which Tokyo was worth more than all the land in the U.S. on paper — was coming to an end. Japan was a much wealthier place back in those days, and one of the things that surprised me the most was the custom of 建て替え tate-kae, literally tearing down your old house and replacing it with a shiny new one, like you or I might upgrade to a nicer car. This is something more well-off Japanese would do every 20-25 years or so, since it’s land that has the actual value in Japan, never the buildings on the land. Over the past two decades, this ridiculously wasteful custom has given way to “reforming” existing homes (they actually mean “remodeling” but got the word slightly wrong), adding whatever new features they need, for example making spaces “barrier free” so elderly parents can move around without difficulty. We’re currently “reforming” our kitchen, pulling out the old cabinets and putting in a south-facing kitchen so my wife can watch her Korean dramas while she cooks. So J-List gets a new website, and my wife gets a new kitchen.

Do you know the Japanese Pinky Swear? It’s a similar to the “make a promise/hope to die/stick a needle in your eye” song I learned while growing up. Hook your pinky with someone else’s and chant the song, which goes, “Pinky Swear, if you lie, I will make you swallow 1000 needles.” (If you want it in Japanese, it’s yubikiri genman, uso tsuitara hari senbon nomasu.) The Pinky Swear shows up quite a lot in anime, often to show a promise made between characters while they were younger, although the origin of the custom is somewhat less innocent. Supposedly, the Pinky Swear began back in the Edo Period as a gesture of devotion that geisha would make with their favorite customers. The “cutting” of the pinky signified the women severing her own finger as a sign of eternal affection for her partner, essentially saying that she loves him enough to commit 心中 shinjuu, or ritual lovers’ suicide with him. Kind of adds a new dimension to watching your favorite cute anime series, doesn’t it?

Some great news: just as we got our shiny new website up and running, one of our favorite times of year started: Autumn chocolate season! Because it’s so hot and humid in the summer, we’re forced to remove all chocolate from the site, but our good news is that it’s back today, including legendary treats like Bake-able Pumpkin Kit Kat!