Last updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2002.
So I'm in the 7-11, looking around at the rice balls, sushi,
vodka, minidisks, Playstations -- you know, the usual 7-11 fare. Then,
something catches my eye... yellow boxes piled high. On
one side of the box, a very cute picture of a kitten, sitting
on some leaves. On the other side, bold black letters
announcing: "Tissues of Kitten". Now, I don't know about you, but
the first thing that came to my mind was not facial
tissues, but something quite different (and disgusting).
Using English (and other European languages) in product names
or advertising is extremely fashionable in Japan. In some cases,
however, their knowledge of English nuances doesn't quite match
their enthusiasm to use it, and the result can be quite funny.
Often we gaijin end up rolling in the aisles (of the grocery
store) when we encounter such items as:
Now, to be fair, back in North America it's pretty popular these days
to have Japanese or Chinese characters on T-shirts, furniture designs,
posters, and so on. Let me tell you that most of those characters
and designs are often complete nonsense, printed in mirror images,
or reserved for the dead. So I'm sure the reverse situation applies.
- Pocari Sweat (sports drink)
- Creap (coffee creamer)
- Calpis (yoghurty drink, sounds like "cow piss")
- "Ethnican" flavour potato chips
- Angel's Relief (chocolates with embossed angel's wings on them)
- Crunky (chocolate bar)
- Grape Squash Drink (made from squashed grapes)
- Nude (soft drink)
- Nude (headphones)
That said, here are some more examples of uses of English that are just
so Japanese. All spelling mistakes are from the original source.
(Thanks to Eric Lee and Kirk Cumming for helping me collect these. If you've
got any more, please
email me. Interested parties
might also want to check out this page of
- (On a notebook:) "Confernce: When I changed concept, I
could see genuine articles. A reliable brand selected by
those with good taste."
- (On a notebook:) "Notebook: This
notebook is excellent quality and royal to learn. Put pen to
- (On a sign:) "Please do not stand here and sell things and we will call the police."
- (On a sign:) "No get over a forward fence please."
- (On a pair of shorts:) "Where did you come from?
Let's enjoy your life."
- (On a can of coffee:) "There's a gallon of deliciousness in every
drop. Reach for the taste of good taste, reach for DyDo."
- (On a vending machine:) "Every satisfying sip a flavour experience,
delicious refreshment is a DyDo tradition. Relax and enjoy this
thirst quenching beverages at their best. DyDo is your ticket
to drink paradise."
- (On a "Print Club" (sticker photo) machine:) "A man of ideas can make the best use of
PRINT CLUB in various ways."
- (On a pack of facial tissues:) "Humming Tissues always propose more sanitary
life for you"
- (On a change machine with a curved front:) "Wavy front panel creates a lively
motion. I wish you good luck and pleasant time."
- (On a package of butter cookies:) "This article is made from choice materials
and packaged taking care of hygenic condition."
- (On a notepad:) "Report Pad: If there is changing beauty, there is constant
beauty. Enjoy lasting pleasure and satisfaction in using this report pad
made of the best quality paper. Kyokuto Note Co., Ltd."
- (On a hankerchief:) "I grow parent bird some day. I am still green."
- (On a shopping bag:) "Cuteness Puppy
A good day isexpected to bigin. My favourite way of sleeping,
- (On a bag of corn puffs:) "It's best suitable as a simple
and convenient refreshment food for an athletic meeting."
- (On a can of "post water":) "Rapidly moistens your body and
gently softens your soul. Post Water is Life Water for us all."
- (On a box of cookies:) "Tohato raisin cookie is baked in a
way handmade like. The cookie gives flavors of it's ingredients.
Let's enjoy the cookie with it's smooth texture and rich flavor
for family tea and children's snack."
- (On a box of cookies:) "Beautiful things are beyond time.
Women's history never cease to yearn for beauty."
- (Yet another box of cookies:) "Confidence of creating deliciousness.
This tastiness can not be carried even by both hands."
- (On an "Exciting Ball":) "Squeeze it...
whenever stress has got you down,
for good health day by day...
you will be locky man of all the world!"
- (On a backpack:) "Little wonders are gone in a flash, like squirrels.
Put your found treasures in your rucksack."
- (On a backpack:) "I like to watch the seasons change. It's a precious feeling, like
having a rucksack on your back."
- (On an Apple Mint Gum display:) "For boys & girls
Be always happy with mint taste
When you chew just a little piece,
you must say, "It's so cold out here."
- (On the wrapper of Dipper Dan's ice cream:)
"Making you feel Nice and Happy
by tasting Dipper Dan's flavor,
That's our happiness.
Making Heartfull Cummunication
between you and Dipper Dan,
That's our wishness"
- (On a cigarette machine:) "This is the White Corner.
It's the bright, fantastic and sophisticated urban life.
Let's make the brilliant scene. Get's together with us."
- (On a bread store window:) "Kobeya was established in 1918
We wish all the time to be able to provide you fresh bread and to
propose you a joy of eating life with bread. Especially, we want to be
a host at dinner of your kitchen. We are waiting for you with various
kinds of bread, cakes and sandwiches."
- (On a junk mail envelope:) "I spin hat with top."
This page is Copyright 1994-2006, Brett Allen.