An Encounter with Muji


Decades ago, when I lived in Japan, various satirical magazines often made fun of what we termed Japanese English or Janglish. These were translation mistakes or misuses of English (intentional or unintentional) that appeared everywhere. They could be boldly emblazoned on T-shirts, product labels, vending machines, and countless advertisements. Often English was used to spice up a product. The word leant it a mystique, or tried to invoke an image, rather than translate some information about the product.  This use of English was actually targeted at the domestic market, rather than the English speaker.  When the internet came along, there were (and probably still are) web pages devoted to this.

I haven’t been back to Japan in a while, but I assume those magazines that catered to English speakers/readers still do this sort of thing from time to time. However, I would hope that the situation is somewhat better.   With access to computers and proofreaders all over the world, there should be far fewer of these mistakes–the unintentional ones at least. Of course, this was a common lament when I lived there, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at the state of affairs now.

Currently Japan is riding another boom in popularity. When I was a child, only a few nerdy types likes myself sought out badly dubbed Japanese cartoons. It was a far cry from the popularity that came later. The current boom seems more directed at fashion, retail, and ramen. And that brings us to Muji, or more formally Mujirushi Ryōhin. This store has some awesome products and has garnered a lot of well earned attention. I don’t like shopping there because I can read the Japanese price on the products and know how much they have been marked up for Canada—big shocker, it is a lot. Of course these products needed to get here, and the rent is high in Toronto–but it still irks me a little and causes me to second guess any shopping decisions.

How does all this tie together? The eraser (which my student lovingly praised) pictured above is from Muji.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in advertising, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Japan, Japanese, Retail, shopping, translation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Encounter with Muji

  1. That’s one happy fresh excellent eraser #1 for live spirit!

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