Saturday, August 29, 2009


Japan is a fascinating place. I spent a week and a half there at the end of July. It was my second trip and was much more enjoyable than the first time. If you've never been to Japan, expect to be incredibly confused and disoriented the first time you go. On this second go-round I was able to fall back on much that I'd learned and observed last year. I could relax and take in more of the culture.

One of the things I find interesting, even shocking at times, is the Japanese affinity for American English slogans. I might not be able to read signs or advertisements while I'm there, but cruising the streets I would constantly spot t-shirts, posters, etc. with English phrases. Some were borderline offensive. I thought that funny in a way considering the conservative demeanor and lack of flamboyance exhibited by most Japanese. But when you realize most passersby can't read the phrases, it's bizarrely humorous to a native English speaker. Even if some Japanese folks can read the words, many of these phrases are so obscured with slang and profanity that it would be difficult to make a direct translation.

Here are a few fun sightings from Japan:

Tommy Lee Jones is BOSS. At least he's the posterchild for BOSS beverages. Kinda reminded me of Bill Murray from Lost in Translation. Similar wrinkled crusty old guy persona.

This is a crappy photo of a poster in the Kaze messenger headquarters in Kyoto. Who knew drunk cyclists had their own tarot?

I saw this gem in a respectable tea shop in Nagoya. Just a place where friends meet for a quiet beverage and some chit-chat. This poster was displayed front and center behind the counter.

Okay, I was once told by a friend that Japan is the land where they perfected the plastic fake food used in restaurant display windows to give you an idea what a dish looks like. I chose this one thinking the white squigglies beneath the tiny shrimp were noodles. Look closer. The noodles have eyes. Yes, I ate it. And it was, like all the food I've eaten in Japan, damn good.
I'm off to Germany for Eurobike. Be well, friends.

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