Category Archives: Observations

A friendly sign at the local school uniform shop wishing students luck for the new school year.

Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan

Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan
Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan

Start of the School Year in Japan

I spotted this nice little sign at a local school uniform shop, wishing students luck for the new academic year which commences soon. It uses something they call 駄洒落 (dajare, or word-play).

It reads;


Ii fuku de ii fuku wo (the repetition of the word “fuku” is the word-play).

Which roughly translates into;

Good luck with good clothes (uniforms).

With students needing as much luck as they can get with all the competition, it’s a clever little sign. There are literally dozens of campaigns which take place around this season, especially since everyone works so hard at all the school entrance examinations to get into the best school they possibly can. There are usually a whole range of 合格 centred merchandise and things you can do which claim to help you pass exams. As long as you don’t get so hung up on passing that you forget to go to your exam, I guess it aint that bad.

Buying school bags (ランドセル) and uniforms etc, can be a big deal in Japan. In Australia the closest that it got to this for me, was probably getting some new gear at the “Back to School” specials at K-mart or something… flashback photo attached below. Far out… I miss my daggy pencil case.

Pencil case with letters in clear sleeves, old school.


Funny stuff in Japan

Funny Stuff in Japan

Ever come across funny stuff in Japan?

I was walking along the riverside minding my own business, when something caught my eye. The sun reflected off a mysterious black surface. Here we go again I thought… more funny stuff in Japan!

It looked man-made, kind of shiny, and was about the height of an Oompa Loompa… what could it be? Some people thought it might be a Dalek. Would have been good… but sorry, it was something else.

On closer inspection, here is what I found… A Japanese slot machine!

This video will shed even more light on this crazyness.

BIC Camera persuades customers to buy new PC

BIC Camera Scare Campaign – Windows XP support is ending!!!

With Windows XP support ending on the 9th of April, are you crazy enough to not upgrade NOW!?

With support for Windows XP ending on April 9th 2014, retailers everywhere are trying to make the most of this opportunity to convince people to upgrade. It’s also a great way to get rid of all those Windows 8s that are lying around(?).

This campaign running at BIC Camera, one of the largest electronic retailers in Japan, tells you how to identify a computer running Windows XP. LOL… Apparently if it has the sticker, and makes those sounds… you’re in trouble, and you should go inside and get a new PC ASAP before it’s too late!!!

If there’s any Japanese you don’t understand, mention it in the comments!

Creative Japanese Kotowaza

Creative Japanese Proverbs aka Kotowaza?

Creative Japanese Proverbs aka Kotowaza?

Chukyo University, located in Nagoya City, has been running a campaign for some time now for their MBA course, making  creative use of an old Japanese proverb “出る杭は打たれる” (deru kui wa utareru). By putting a modern twist on it, they’ve shown how creative they can be with old proverbs, aka kotowaza.

The kotowaza in question, literally means “the stump/picket who sticks out, will be struck”… and not in a good way.

Weblio gives us a pretty good interpretation of the proverb…

Stand out from the crowd and you just invite trouble for yourself.

If you’ve spent any time in Japan, you will have noticed that consistency is a pretty big deal here. This proverb just emphasises that aspect of society and reiterates the fact that in most cases, being “different” isn’t always a good thing.

The way Chukyo has altered this proverb to convey a more open minded approach to being “different” is refreshing to see. Being “different” doesn’t always need to be associated with being struck…on the head… and driven into the ground.

So, the ad going around is as below;

Deru kui ni naru ka, derarenai kui de owaru ka.

My literal translation;

Become a protruding stake, or end up as a stake who isn’t able to protrude at all.

My loose translation;

Be different, or end up never being able to make a difference.

I hope my translation is good enough to convey the message to you. In other words, Chukyo is telling you to be different, while recognising that being different is actually a desirable trait.

Their website screenshot is below. The copy also appears in many Nagoya City subway carriages as a poster.

I’ve had a look for opinions on the net about this, and feedback from the public looked very positive, with one person saying that they would even like to meet the PR person in charge of coming up with this.

EDIT: I just realised that the copy on the subway and the website are different, but only slightly. The subway version is as above… and the website version is as below.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Creative Japanese ことわざ (proverbs)?