Friday, August 22, 2008

Strange Signs

When I first moved to Japan, I was collecting passages of strange English, but this was too large a project and it quickly got boring. Now, I'm just taking pictures of weird signs I see around town.

You see these ominous signs on a lot of the public ashtrays around town in front of the convenience stores and whatnot. Notice how the smoke has morphed into a "stalker." The English is neither a literal nor literary translation but it gets the point across.

The other day I was in a ramen shop and they had these large vessels full of ice water on each table. The vessel itself was called a "Double cock keeper." On the side of each of the Double cock keepers was a device called a "Peacock." As the label says, the Peacock can be folded out as a stand for paper cups. In this shop, however, as usual everyone got their own cup, so we could serve ourselves all the ice water we wanted straight from the Double cock keeper with no need for the Peacock.

In Osaka, by law one has to separate one's recycling and bring out the right stuff on the right day. Since, most apartments are fairly small, you can buy all kinds of bins to help make this easier. Here's one that they sell at the Loft, which can apparently be put to other uses as well. What do you put?

This bed linen is also found at Loft, a great chain with huge store fronts at every major train station.. Loft clearly loves English, but somehow can't find room in it's budget to hire any of the poor English teachers to take a quick look over its ad copy. Nevertheless, for all my mocking, this is now my bed linen brand of choice. For one thing, I like the simplicity of the branding, and for another, I don't want there to be any more confusion of about the type of space I prefer to be sleeping in.

A friend of mine recently moved into Juso (十三), a notoriously sleazy neighborhood full of love hotels, pink shops, hostess bars, and Chinese massage girls working nearly every street corner. Here's the awning of a nearby love hotel. I'm not really sure what to make of it and I welcome any comments. The business about condoms is fairly straight forward, but what is A.A.A. in this context? As for injunction to get into a train, there was no locomotive theme to the hotel, so I don't know if it's some prison lingo or just totally off the hook.

This final sign is a common notice in the train stations around town. It tells you, in case you were in doubt about such things, that it is, indeed, a crime to molest people on the train. Actually, the first line is in Osaka-ben and then the rest is in standard Japanese. The word chikan (痴漢) can mean a molester in general, but in the context of a train station it means a groper. The sign reads something like "Molestation, No Way!" (chican akan!, チカン/アカン) "Molestation is a crime!" (chican wa hanzai desu, 痴漢は犯罪です!).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Birthday

The cake that Mom and Pop sent me arrived on Friday, and I ate it with some friends on Saturday afternoon, in a heat that was so intense the pieces melted as we were holding them. As usual, somehow I was grumpy all day on my Birthday.

In the evening, I went to a restaurant in Umeda that's famous for its view. You can see why from this picture. The food was delicious and we ate it as the sun went down and the city began to light up. I finally began to cheer up as we ate.

Here you can see the top of the JR Osaka station, Yodobashi Camera (a gigantic electronics store), the Umeda Sky Building, and various industrial plants and skyscrapers. In the background, you see the Yodagawa and Juso.