Awkward Japanese English

I went to the movies last weekend to see the latest Resident Evil Movie or ビオハザビオハザドード 4 (Biohazard 4). I sitting there, eating my cinnamon Churrito, and I nearly spit out my food in amusement. There was a list of warnings translated into English on the silver screen. “Outside Food is Prohibited.” Okay, that makes sense. “No kicking the backs of the chairs.” Check. Those were pretty clear. However, the third warning, I swear, said…and I quote “No Molester Violence.” Molester Violence?!? I get the idea, but it’s just such a funny way to say it. I had a good laugh.

If you go around Japan, you’ll find all kinds of strange English all over the place. Signs, business slogans, T-shirts, you name…there are strange sayings all over the place. What other strange English have I encountered? Oh there was a store called “Hard-Off” in my city. I honestly wonder if people are playing jokes when they make these store signs. I’m an English teacher, and I actually saw a student (a boy, about 9 or 10 years old) wearing a shirt that said (please excuse the language) “Asshole Buddy.” Why would that be on a kid’s shirt in the first place…my goodness!

There are quite possibly thousands of these different strange translations in Japan, and as I find them, I hope to get some pictures just to show you exactly what I mean. I mean no disrespect at all to the Japanese people, but if an expression is funny, it’s funny. But, at least this country makes an attempt to employ the use of another culture’s language. In the US, how common is it to find signs translated/written in Japnanese? Not very. I’m sure foreigners make just as many mistakes (if not more) when trying to use Japanese; it can be very amusing for both cultures, I’m sure. So the next time you see a strange saying while walking the streets of Japan, write it down, take picture, because it may be just the laugh someone needs to brighten their day.

Do you have any funny phrases you’ve seen here in Japan? I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to leave a post.

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
  • seymour

    I was just wondering if you know anything about the term, ” Awkward”. In my japanese class, my teacher made an mistake and the student corrected her, then he said,” Awkward.” And she was red in the face pissed. It was rude in English, but do you know anything about cultural differences when using the term, “Awkward.”

    • thejapanguy

      I’m just reading this. Thanks for your question, Seymour. Culturally I’m not sure if it would be a really big difference. In English I don’t really think it’s anything rude, but then again I guess saying anything just the right way can make it rude.

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