Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Everyone makes fun of the Japanese use of English. (See Engrish) The Chicago Tribune has a story featuring Chicagoans with tattoos Japanese characters and a comparison of what the bearers think they mean and what they really mean in Japanese. Very funny.

via MetaFilter and Boing Boing


My buddy's girlfriend has the kanji for "onna" tatooed to her left arm, but it is backwards, appearing like its mirror image would. She doesn't realize this, and I haven't been able to break it to her.

when i saw these, i was wondering if any of them make any more sense if read as chinese rather than japanese.

I used to live in Hong Kong but didn't know Chinese characters. In the tourist shops, when I saw hangings, t-shirts, etc. with Chinese characters on them, I always wondered if it said something like "can you believe what these stupid gweilos will buy?"

It seems to be some unspoken pact that using eachothers language at random is 'cool'. A lot of Japanese websites feature english menus, why is beyond me as the content behind these menu choices is 100% Japanese, over here in England we stick Japanese on clothing labels to make them more stylish, even I am into this weird behavior as I feature the Japansese characters for Puckman on my shoulder, at least I checked with Namco Japan to make sure I got it right :)

Gerard, unless you live in Tokyo, you won't appreciate the fact that there is a small but significant customer base (foreigners living in Japan) who appreciate menus in English and will frequent restaurants with English menus.

So the English in menus in Japan is not about "looking cool," it is about catering to your customers, which is important in any culture.

kanji decorated t-shirts and headbands were popular in the 80s with heavy metal kids. I wonder how many of them were meaningless/wrong or used kanji which did not exist?

My friend Mayumi and I were in McDonald's Times Square (a likely hotspot for Japgrish) when I ask her what the kanji on our server's arm means. In typical style, she wrinkles her nose, tilts her head to the right and says, "Ehhh...intelligent road?" Hilarious.

I spent the duration of a cheeseburger explaining anti-intellectualism in America and our love of "street-smarts."