Most Japanese people have no clue what the English slogans on their shirts actually mean

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Japanese fashion brands made an habit of using English statements on their T-shirts. Even German words and phrases seemed pretty popular on my last trip to Japan. I found some relatively nice shirts with fruit names in German written on them. Apfel (Apple) for example. So nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a little different when a young schoolgirl in her puberty walks around with a shirt that says “heavy bitch”. Might not exactly be the statement she intended for herself. Most phrases are harmless though but often times just don’t make any sense. More and more Katakana is used by Western fashion brands nowadays so maybe we might see some nice reverse examples over here soon.

A Japanese TV-show went outside to the streets of Tokyo and interviewed some random people if they know what the phrases on their shirts actually mean. Most had no clue whatsoever. In the end it doesn’t really matter if the font adds something to the design and you’re not branding yourself an idiot with the message. I’m rarely wearing prints and always found “fashion with a message” a little cheesy. Just remember: Fuck celeb.

Picture by TokyoFashion

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  • Lars Bos

    That’s something I noticed too, they tend to use a lot of filler words “Blue Volcano” “Hippy Tiger” But I think the main reason is that they like the phonetic sound of those words. Same thing with anime episodes (especially cowboy bebop). Which reminds me, if you want another look in the fascinating lives of Japanese youth (who quite regularly use those words) I suggest you start watching Terrace House on netflix. Should be boring, but it isn’t!

    • Never heard of Terrace House before and have yet to watch another Japanese netflix production: Atelier. Will give TH a go later today. Thanks for recommending. Strange that the netflix algorithm didn’t promote that one already.

      • Lars Bos

        Oh really? You’re in for a treat then! 6 young people living in a villa in Tokyo with a nice car. And while the western realityshows rely on fighting and arguing, these guys are exceptionally polite. It really is a very interesting look in the daily live of Japanese youth. There is also a Terrace House Hawai, but you should start with “boys and girls in the city”

        • Had some time to watch the show now and really enjoyed it. A guilty pleasure of mine was watching Jersey Shore :) at night when I was on holiday in Spain. So the whole concept was right up my alley :)
          Btw. just picked up the UK edition of Tampopo and can’t wait to watch the film again with a decent transfer. Once owned the German BR but it had way to much contrast.

          • Lars Bos

            Haha cool! Did you watch the entire season in one go? If you’re done with it, you can switch over to “terrace house Hawai”. Same show, different setting. Jersey shore is so different after watching Terrace house. They’re extremely polite.

            Very nice that you ordered Tampopo, where did you order it? The only thing I have a problem with concerning the UK editions is that they have these ugly age warnings on the front. Same goes for my copy of Dr Strangelove, Otherwise they’re identical to the US releases. I still want to add Throne of blood, Sword of doom & High and Low to my collection, so I guess i’ll wait for the annual Barnes & Noble sale ;)

            Oh by the way, did you pick up Dreams by Kurosawa? How was it?

          • Not yet done with the season. Lost track of it when I got more into films again :) And you’re so right about the comparison with Jersey Shore. It’s really entertaining in the early season but there is a much much more sophisticated vibe at Terrace House.

            Just received Tampopo and His girl friday. Was always a bit hesitant to buy the UK editions but because there is no ratings logo near the spine number I honestly don’t care anymore.

            Didn’t pick up Kurosawas Dreams yet but will definitely tell you about it once I did. Anymore more plans for titles to pick up?

          • Lars Bos

            Yes! If you reach the end please let me know, there are some very interesting developments near the end you’ll like. The cast changes alot throughout the season to keep it fresh, but the coolest people are near the end.

            How is his girl friday? I hear a lot about it. Dreams is something i’m still considering, I kind of get the idea Paprika used it as reference, it is very colorful and weird.

            Here are the Criterion titles I’m saving up all my money for:

            Ghost World
            Blow up
            Asphalt Jungle
            Carnival of Souls
            Sword of doom
            Throne of blood
            High and low

            By the way, I visited this secondhand DVD/bluray store yesterday, and came across “Le Dernier Combat”. The only reason I bought it immediately is because it had the words ‘Black and white” and “Postapocalyptic”. It was Luc Bessons’ first movie, very entertaining to watch. You won’t be disappointed!

          • Will definitely let you know once I finished the show. Am currently in Lyon for the day and driving to Avignon later today.

            Haven’t has any time to watch His Girl Friday yet but it’s really a beautifully made disc. Only opened the shrink wrap and inspected the boolet which is made in the style of a newspaper.

            Wowhd just dropped their prices for Criterion discs again. You can pick up a bunch of those on your wishlist for pretty reasonable prices. Am buying nearly all my CC discs from them nowadays. Used them about 16 years ago as well when they were still named cdwow.

            Btw. here is my modest Criterion profile including my wishlist of course :)

          • Lars Bos

            Cool, have fun!

            Oh I see, kinda like Ace in the Hole.Cool, will look into it.

            Yes you mentioned wowhd before, will try them.Thanks for the tip! They are usually priced at 25 euros, so it is a bit steep for me (but then again, it’s criterion)

            Nice list you have, I just updated my list!

          • Lars Bos

            Hi Jakob, Not sure if you know this, but Eureka is going to release BAKUMATSU TAIYÔ-DEN ( ) have never seen the film but the premise looks interesting, and it’s japanese. They sell it as being the best japanese picture of all time, which makes me curious. Maybe it’s also something worth checking out!

          • Yeah 25€ a piece is still relatively cheap but I always go through my want list and if something drops below 23/22 is think about ordering it. Actually had Bakumatsu on pre-order. Who wouldn’t want to watch and own the “best Japanese film ever, right?! Not so sure if I will enjoy it that much but on a second note: Can’t wait to watch Ugetsu again – what a marvelous film. Have you seen it?

          • Lars Bos

            Well it’s a good tip, i’ll definitely check wowhd for Criterions. A while back I tested their shipping by ordering “The grand slam” (italian heist movie), and it was handled very well!

            Well I’m a bit hesitant about Bakumatsu too, because they sell it as a comedy, but perhaps i’ll give it a try. I have never seen Ugetsu, the plot looks very interesting so i’ll watch/order it.

            Also wanted to let you know that I finally tried out Filmstruck (I watch it on ipad) and i’m using it to watch movies I wouldn’t necessarily want to own on Bluray. I already watched a couple of old hitchcock movies on it and it was very stable. Not really happy with the website because they use flash (weird choice).

            Oh by the way, do you like the Fritz Lang movies? Metropolis, Mabuse, Spione? I think Metropolis is the best science fiction movie i’ve seen recently, I thought the silent part would annoy me, but it was surprisingly entertaining and very ahead of it’s time. Hitchcocks’ movies are kinda like that too, very well thought out.

          • Oh, I’m a big fan of Fritz Lang. What a fantastic director. M is just amazing. Have seen Spione and Mabuse as part of the MOC collection and loved them.

            Do you use filmstruck with your European credit card? Maybe I’ll try their service if that works. But between MUBI and my never ending pile of Blu-Rays, I doubt that I will find the time for them.

            I used to own a big box set with 25 Hitchcock films. Bought that when I was around 18 and wached each single film with a good friend and neighbor of me while drinking Bacardi Breezer or some cheap red wine. Good times. Always wanted to buy tze Hitchcock box set by Criterion. Maybe when the next B&N sale is happening. Rebecca just got announced again. Used to own it on DVD and wasn’t such a big fan of the film. But maybe my view has changed nowadays.

            Just pre-ordered the upcoming Seijun Suzuki box set by Arrow Video. Really enjoyed his films and can’t wait to watch the infamous Zigeunerweisen.

          • Lars Bos

            Yes he was really fantastic, and very modern considering his movies were shot in the 30s. I have not seen Mabuse yet, because of the 4 hours of playtime, but I understood you can easily watch it in segments.

            Yes I did sign up with my European Credit card. Here is what I did:

            1. Used a VPN with an american ip
            2. Went to filmstruck, signed up for a free trial
            3. Used a nonexistent/dummy billing address

            That’s basically it, the service is a bit choppy sometimes. You can get better results viewing it on the iPad. For web they use a flash player which is a weird (and ancient) choice. So it won’t really work that well. But they update regularly with interesting movies. The Criterion + Filmstruck package is $10.99 a month.

            Hitchcock is cool, I think most people don’t really know his older (english) films, but they are really worth watching. If you’re interested in a cheaper option you could always check these out: &

            Wow how could I have missed that? The suzuki boxset looks awesome, I’ll look into it! thanks!!