It is a truth universally acknowledged that every J-blogger must one day post a series of photographs depicting hapless, hopeless, surreal and / or otherwise amusing uses of the English language by the Japanese. And thus, after two years as Muzuhashi, so this day has come to pass.
Some of the photos here were taken several years ago, some are of subjects that must surely have been spotted by other J-bloggers, some depict bizarre uses of the Japanese language by the Japanese, and others are merely of oddball stuff that I’ve seen and snapped. So sit back, enjoy the ride and if you are offended by bad grammar, bad punctuation or bad language – or at least, good language that inadvertently sounds bad – look away now.
First up is my favourite: a restaurant in Mié Prefecture that was unfortunately shut when I cycled past. I wonder what they had on the menu?
A clothes shop in Tsukuba that makes no attempt to disguise the fact that its target customers are anorexics.
Possibly the least appetising food item I’ve ever seen, and definitely not targeted at anorexics.
This Noh theatre performance…
…includes an appearance by the representative of a unique educational institution.
Yes, it’s true, coffee really is an aphrodisiac.
This, believe it or not, is a reputable travel agent.
And this is a reputable DIY store.
Suits you, sir!
Seen on the way up Mount Fuji: that old singular / plural conundrum.
Speaking of Fuji, when you’re writing a t-shirt slogan, sometimes a mere superlative isn’t quite superlative enough.
Please look twice at this barbershop window before laughing.
Proof that the grocer’s apostrophe is a truly worldwide phenomenon.
Whn you’r in dsprat nd of a p, always us a gnt’s toilt.
In Japanese, to reverse one’s car is to bakku suru (バックする / literally ‘do back’), which despite being borrowed from an English word, makes absolutely no sense at all when translated, er, back into English.
The confusion between L and R is a common problem, but surely no other shop in Japan is named after a Brit gangster film?
Displayed outside a shopping mall mother-and-baby room.
Seen from afar, this looks like just another apartment building.
Take a closer look, however, and it turns out this is the official Ibaraki residence of Jools Holland. (Dr John lives in block A, apparently.)
Shampoo and conditioner for those of us who haven’t quite got the hang of personal hygiene.
For some reason, most Japanese are under the misapprehension that a rubbish bin (aka trash can) is called a ‘dust box’, hence:
Although this one seems to be intended for either war zones or crash sites.
At last, a romantic destination for OAPs!
Just in case you weren’t sure, here are the instructions for how to use a toilet.
The faces of this happy cartoon family are painted on a fence in Mrs M’s home town.
Although looking at dad makes you wonder if the locals haven’t been harbouring war criminals.
This is Ra-ra, a pet pig who lives at our local garden centre.
Unfortunately for Ra-ra, directly behind her little wooden piggy kennel is the ‘Work experience classroom – let’s have fun making handmade sausages!’
Probably the smallest car park in the world.
Probably the most cuddly toys crammed onto a single dashboard…in the world.
Yes, this really does say, ‘Please refrain from gargling’.
This is exactly what happens when you touch an electric fence.
And this is exactly what happens when you drive too fast (while flying through the air quite literally upside down, the driver is saying, ‘GYAA!!!’).
Here’s something you won’t find in the UK: a billboard telling people not to steal shellfish – I particularly like the fact that the poacher is disguised in sunglasses and an Afro wig.
This is a road safety sign written in Ibaraki-ben (茨城弁 / Ibaraki dialect) and aimed at motorists and schoolchildren, so a translation would go something like this:
Ooh-aar! Stop your tractor there, boy. And don’t forget to hold yer ‘and out when you cross the street, my lover. Oi am a zaider drinker, oi drinks it all of the day. Ooh-aar ooh-aar-ey. Etc etc.
This last one is a beautifully hand-drawn sign from the window of a chemist’s shop, telling customers about all of the different medicines they can buy and all of the ailments they can treat.
Illness doesn’t wait for you!! We’ve got whatever you need in an emergency. Sudden fever, high temperature, convulsions, headache, stomachache, diarrhea, bruises, sprains, toothache, cuts etc.
(If you liked these, there are many more at the original and best Japlish-based website, engrish.com