Although all Japanese people spend years studying English in school, that doesn’t mean they understand it one bit. Sure, they have rather extensive vocabularies (most of the people I’ve met here know the English words for every fruit from peach to pomegranite) — but Japanese people can’t string together a grammatical English sentence to save their lives.
Yet, that doesn’t stop them from embracing English when it comes to fashion. Thus,the trend in Japan of wearing t-shirts with completely incoherent and nonsensical English catchphrases:
This is not just a minor trend. Nearly every single teenager and twentysomething out on the streets is wearing a cotton tee emblazoned with some incoherent string of English gibberish. I’ve see the shirts regularly on everyone from the youngest toddlers to senior citizens. Compared to the number of t-shirts that have Japanese characters (kanji or katakana), I’d say the English t-shirts outnumber them 3 to 1. It’s truly one of the most bizarre fashion trends I’ve ever witnessed (and that’s saying something — I spent the last year of my life in Hollywood).
Reading (and laughing at) these shirts has been one of my favorite hobbies, so I decided to spend a few hours trying to document as many of the Engrish shirts that I could spot. I wrote down the catchphrases in my notebook as I came across them, and tookphotos of people wearing the shirts when I could get away with it without being too rude or intrusive. I also stopped in a few clothing stores and took photos of a random sampling of shirts.
And no, I wasn’t going out of my way to find the most ridiculous t-shirts — these are the shirts that I came across over the course of a few hours, just walking around. Check ’em out:
The shirts: Engrish at its finest
Speed Race Thank You
The Best Way is to USE IT UP — Introducing a new usage
Buzzer It! T.N.D.R. Must-Win Game
Present for lovable — All Love you!!! PEACE…of mind… Recommended Style Lovers for Girls
We Love Transportation: It is as valuable as ever even after this lapse of time
I <3 You, Kiss Me Destiny... Twinkle of Diamond
Spirit American Fine Beat Dream
BREAKING my strange fruit project the healing of NY rap scene
Cheers Enjoy Celebrate Toast Get Across
Four Theme Halls
And Aircraft Collection
You feel it!
The song touched everyone
The following is the enjoyment…what
Kind of song it is…
THE HIGHEST LIFE
The mistake is not found for us
Fresh Fruit: GOD BLESS
Big Favorite It Is Cold The Delicious It Is…Fresh Fruit (God Bless You)
Precious Love You Hold My Life Within Your Hands
Well now, how about going out after dressing ourselves up?
It’s fun to dress myself up
Long Beach: A Fine Prospect Spread Before Us
LUCKY — It is a new chance — The sky is fine
Experience that relieves my heart with wisdom we can live on un affluesce
(not gonna copy all of that down, heheh)
Can’t Stop Grind
Heart Throb Sweet Mutter
The Smell of the Sky Refreshes Over That Sky
And even more where that came from…
I wasn’t able to take photos of all of the shirts I saw, because I didn’t want to blatantly walk up to people and take snapshots of them. (A little imposing, don’t you think?) But I did carry around my little notebook and write down the strangest Engrish catchphrases I encountered throughout the day. Here they are:
Native of Earth it ponders the problem of the environment
Happy Attitude Delicious Sun
1982 – A Smart Man Power to the List
Grittiness: I think there is a lot of here
Love is put and sung to people in the world
Another fortunate bite at the cherry
Strongest talent after five friends
There is something special in the AIR
Order and Proficiency
Governement Approved Dental Care
Migratory Locust Approaching!!!
Burst of the Economic Bubble
Expression of Dream
Now I sleep soundly blanket
5th Order of Magnitude
Make Peace is Step. The Salt of Life is Found
So now that I’ve accomplished my goal of assembling the single most incoherent string of words ever written in the English language, I think I’m gonna go to bed. I hope you’re just as confused as I am!