Japan Stories: Japanglish
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.

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 Japanese English Advertising Slogans.)

See also:
Brett Allen (brett@snazzorama.com)
This page is Copyright 1994-2006, Brett Allen.