Photo: Twitter/@ponkotuidai
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English mistake makes Kyoto the enemy of the world

72 Comments
By SoraNews24

We’ve seen a lot of "Engrish" on display in Japan over the years, with big companies like Pizza Hut and Osaka Metro proving that straight translations into English from Japanese don’t always pan out as planned.

Now, another English-language hiccup has come to light, this time standing loud and proud on an ad from Takashimaya department store in Kyoto. The large, eye-catching poster shows a person in a koi-patterned mask with a school of koi fish rising up in the background. Red text written on the white background reads: “Rising Again. Save The World from Kyoto Japan.”

▼ “Save The World from Kyoto Japan” suggests we should all be ducking for safety because Kyoto is coming to get us.

Screen Shot 2020-11-12 at 10.02.53.png

It didn’t take long for the ad to go viral online, with English speakers pointing out that the message makes it sound as if Kyoto is a rising superpower, out to fight the world like a terrifying final boss from a video game. Comments included:

“Is Kyoto the enemy of the world?”

“Are Kyoto attacking the world by sending koi fish to smother their faces?”

“All the world are belong to Kyoto!”

“I get what they mean, but now I have this image of Kyoto turning into a giant robot and menacing the rest of Japan.”

“A comma would have gone a long, long way.”

It just goes to show the importance of punctuation, because the intended meaning would’ve come across a lot better with a couple of commas, which would make it: “Rising Again. Save The World, from Kyoto, Japan.”

It didn’t take long for Japanese media outlets to pick up on the English blunder, and Takashimaya eventually got wind of the news because a day later, the message on the poster had been covered over with white tape.

▼ And now, the entire poster has been completely wiped from the wall on which it was posted.

Screen Shot 2020-11-12 at 10.04.32.png

Despite the notoriety it received, the reason behind the mistake becomes understandable when you consider this smaller poster, which shows commas aren’t necessary when the text is broken up into separate lines, and varying fonts.

▼ This is the message they were aiming for.

Screen Shot 2020-11-12 at 10.07.51.png

It’s unfortunate that Takashimaya wasn’t able to somehow fix the text and keep the poster up, as the intended message is a heartfelt one. Plus, the design features art by local contemporary artist Hideki Kimura, who’s known as the “rock star” painter from Kyoto.

This video on Kimura’s official Instagram account shows that the poster was part of a promotion for a pop-up shop inside the department store, which ended on Oct 6.

It appears that Takashimaya liked the poster so much it kept it up on the blank wall next to their store after the pop-up shop had closed. If that’s the case, taking the poster down now doesn’t seem to hurt either party, given the pop-up has ended, and Kimura has collaborated with Takashimaya in the past, suggesting they have a strong and well-established relationship.

Source: Livedoor News

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

72 Comments
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These kind of mistakes are inexcusable in this day and age. There are enough native English speakers I’m this country to ensure these things don’t happen.

15 ( +30 / -15 )

(quote) "...I'm [sic] this country"

Case in point! A Freudian slip, Smith?

19 ( +22 / -3 )

These kind of mistakes are inexcusable in this day and age. There are enough native English speakers I’m this country to ensure these things don’t happen.

But they're too stubborn to ask for help and/or worried to lose face when told they got the translation wrong. That's why they blindly go ahead and publish gobbledegook.

English teachers should never be short of work here.

28 ( +30 / -2 )

This illustrates the need for proof reading of all printable material. I’ll wager the (correct) postcard / flyer was designed first, and subsequently the text was copied and pasted into the poster in the expectation that it would read correctly despite the formatting change.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Case in point! A Freudian slip, Smith?

It’s called a simple typo. Far different than the horrendous English pumped out of the public and private sectors here in Japan.

10 ( +20 / -10 )

No more English speaking foreigners visiting Kyoto. The trillion yen tourist industry has collapsed. Remember last year the mayor complaining about too many rude foreign visitors.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

These kind of mistakes are inexcusable in this day and age. There are enough native English speakers I’m this country to ensure these things don’t happen.

Ya think? I have had numerous conversations with municipal authorities regarding this very issue, and the excuse they gave was, "Oh it really does matter, as the Japanese who read won't understand anyway!"

THAT is a direct quote!

Certainly some things don't need to be translated into English or any other language, particularly the names of "places" in Japan, example I saw once a translation for "Nihon Bashi" as "Japanese Bridge".....

You are totally correct, it's their pride that gets in the way!

24 ( +24 / -0 )

In 2019 there were 90 million visitors. In 2020 the figures are -99%.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

In 2019 there were 90 million visitors. In 2020 the figures are -99%.

So? Right, it's an excuse to keep putting out Engrish instead of English! I get it!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

so to summarise why there are so many awful English translations - stubbornness, pride & losing face

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Why don't they check?

Whenever I write something in Japanese I ask my wife to check it.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

I don't get that hung up over Engrish.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

But they're too stubborn to ask for help and/or worried to lose face when told they got the translation wrong. That's why they blindly go ahead and publish gobbledegook.

exactly. Here's some more funny stuff..

https://www.engrish.com/

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Then there's the way of stating that there's a huge sale going on by saying MAX OFF! Unfortunately, when you place the that saying with one word above your company name and the other one below it, whether due space constraints or symmetry, the results were comical and concerning at the same time. That company's name was Jack and it was also in Kyoto. Might be the water...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I used to do English copywriting for an ad agency here. Often my work was criticised by my Japanese bosses for using incorrect English, who returned copy with their own nonsensical and poor grammatical ‘corrections’.

26 ( +26 / -0 )

I used to do English copywriting for an ad agency here. Often my work was criticised by my Japanese bosses for using incorrect English, who returned copy with their own nonsensical and poor grammatical ‘corrections’.

Sums up what they actually think of 'gaijin'. They believe you don't understand the Japanese 'heart'. It is not open for actual discourse, where ideas are give and take.

If the Japanese were less condescending in their defensive paranoia, what a better country it could be.

As far as the Kyoto poster. The upper brass of Takashimaya will say this will blow over, no problem as our real customers, the Japanese don't care. They're only embarrassed because it is pointed out how stupid a mistake it was.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

zichi:

" I don't get that hung up over Engrish. "

this depends on if you are native or non-native English speaker and if native if you speak one language or you are multilingual.

usually those lucky to be borned in English speaking country and being proud of speaking just native language are less tolerant to Engrish and pronunciation etc.

the worst thing you can get into as non-native English speaker is fight between US and British nationals over spelling and pronunciation. Really mendokusai.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Beware the China-North Korea-Kyoto axis. It’s not as if there weren’t teachers to avoid this stu{

5 ( +5 / -0 )

English teachers should never be short of work here.

That should read: Copy editors should never be short of work here.

However, as Luddite points out:

I used to do English copywriting for an ad agency here. Often my work was criticised by my Japanese bosses for using incorrect English, who returned copy with their own nonsensical and poor grammatical ‘corrections’.

Exactly. Don't even try to make sense of the (unrecognized) problem. It's Japan. It is what it is and ever will be.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

There’s another side to this problem. How many study in he US or Canada, Britain Australia or New Zealand and come back speaking gonna, haveta, gotta, etc. I question what pride they take in learning English.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Takara

zichi:

the worst thing you can get into as non-native English speaker is fight between US and British nationals over spelling and pronunciation. Really mendokusai.

British English is the mother tongue but no longer the one spoken by the majority of English speaking peoples. American English, Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Singapore English.

Even with the British English, for decades the standards were set by the likes of the BBC representatives, but these days there are so many who speak with a local dialect making it more correct and reflecting the true picture.

All are correct and I have no problems with the differences between them.

Japan isn't the only country with incorrect use of English. I have lived in several foreign countries.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

fight between US and British nationals over spelling and pronunciation.

Ain't no fight. We're right, they're wrong. ;-)

5 ( +10 / -5 )

This kind of ambiguity is much more common in English-speaking countries than we'd like to think, never mind the rest of the world.

Indeed. The following 'bushism' is a fine example... :)

I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As for an advertising strategy, the mishap ended up a success drawing wider public attention & media coverage.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Don’t people understand the significance of the smaller-size font?

The intended meaning is crystal-clear.

Some people have way to much time to spend being agitated by trivia.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

On more than one occasion, I've had to very sternly tell people here that what they've heard, learned, seen on TV, etc is wrong wrong wrong. I've even gotten some challenges from people who think they know my language better than I do but the worst that happened was about fifteen years ago. I had been doing some translation work for a company that has offices around the world. During their big anniversary bash in Minatomirai, which was attended by company bigwigs, employees and affiliates from something like 15 different countries, someone showed me the quarterly newsletter, in which that I had been regularly writing an article. As I had never actually seen one of them in print, I was very excited but not for long. There, next to my picture, was the blurb I had written, but with about 20 huge glaring mistakes! I was in shock and, honestly, very embarrassed and humiliated. I immediately told everyone within earshot that that was NOT what I had written. Don't know if they believed me, and some of the guys, who had come all the way from Florida, said they never read the thing. Even so, after that I insisted upon seeing everything right before it went to print and that NO ONE, not even the company's president could change anything and that someone must ensure all the words, punctuation, etc be exactly as the copy I had given them. Seeing this article, I can imagine the frustration of someone who may have done it correctly, only to have someone else go behind them and muck it all up.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

fight between US and British nationals over spelling and pronunciation.

No need for a fight. US spelling is generally more logical. It’s probably better for signs.

On the point of slapdash English, I work in a manufacturing company and our translator tells me that the problem is with education in Japan where there isn’t enough importance placed on writing with precision and accuracy even in Japanese. She often tears her hair out with the gibberish written in Japanese by Japanese. This is a real problem when you are dealing with technical writing.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I congratulate them for at least deleting it quietly and not going in a public huff about nasty foreigners laughing at them, which is what the Fukuppy people did.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If you have been here any length of time you will hear of & read stories of messed up English & how they came to be, some are funny & when you have some oyaji ""correct"" something & NOT tell you about it, can make you look like a fool.

Story I heard, those of you that have been here several decades may remember that Panasonic used Woody the Woodpecker as a mascot for the their laptops....

Anyway at some meeting in Tokyo where people from overseas were present in some numbers, a Japanese presenter presented the following slogan in speech:

Touch Woody the Internet Pecker

Unfortunately the reaction from some in the crowd ensured it never saw the light of day!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In 2019 there were 90 million visitors. In 2020 the figures are -99%

According to JTA there were 32 million foreign visitors. Careful with making up numbers and just throwing them out there. Where's the -99% coming from ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The first question we have to ask must be 'Why English in the first place?'

English is not a commonly used language here, unlike say Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines or India. Most people can't speak it fluently. I don't see any other country using Japanese in their ads.

When only North Korea does worse in English proficiency, you're going to end up with these stupid mistakes which could have been totally avoided had you either consulted a fluent speaker or write in your own language.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I see similar things over here in The States, especially when translating from English to Spanish at department stores. Even someone with my limited language skills can get a laugh out of some ridiculous translations. I was at one store (Kohls) that has "Pull" in English, and "Empujar" (push) in Spanish. The doors have been labeled that way for years. Oh, well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kusaisaru

In 2019 there were 90 million visitors. In 2020 the figures are -99%

According to JTA there were 32 million foreign visitors.

Not possible during 2019 from the Covid-19 and a ban on foreigners travelling to Japan.

Careful with making up numbers and just throwing them out there. Where's the -99% coming from ?

Not according to the JTA which shows zero since April

https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/#monthly

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/05/b1d39e8d3993-kyoto-hotels-hit-by-90-slump-in-foreign-stays-as-pandemic-takes-toll.html

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A new meme with this mistake coming up soon. Brought to you by Desperate House Wives yelling at the cat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's pretty funny. Kind of reminds me of a few of the Kanji tattoos I've seen some people get, while not knowing what they mean.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember seeing the Toyota Swing,it’s electric concept car,at the Tokyo Motor Show some years back.

Someone had come up with the catchy slogan of ‘I swing,you swing!’

It didn’t even swing it rocked from side to side,lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Certainly some things don't need to be translated into English or any other language, particularly the names of "places" in Japan, example I saw once a translation for "Nihon Bashi" as "Japanese Bridge".....

Lmao!

No need for a fight. US spelling is generally more logical. It’s probably better for signs.

Thanks to Mr. Webster.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Interestingly, my student and I contacted Takashimaya here in Kyoto a few ago about another sign in English they had put up which also contained errors. I offered to proofread that sign and any others they wanted to post in English explaining that it was in their best interests to use correct English. They responded by saying that the Japanese person in their sales department who had written it would be offended if they did so and this was more important than having a sign with correct English. Oh, well.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Miyako, again. Where is Nobunaga when we need him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They responded by saying that the Japanese person in their sales department who had written it would be offended if they did so and this was more important than having a sign with correct English. Oh, well.

It is one of many examples of Engrish written BY Japanese FOR Japanese. Once you think in terms of that awfully parochial mentality, you will understand the reticence to correct mistakes. English is whatever Japanese people want it to be.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

English in Japan is not there for any discernible meaning to be gained from reading it-I learned that a long time ago....

7 ( +7 / -0 )

There is honestly no excuse to make such mistakes - even google translate can tell you how to spell the word you want..

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"English in Japan is not there for any discernible meaning to be gained from reading it..."

Exactly! This is the crux of the matter -- English is there for nothing more than decoration, and the same applies to English 'Teachers'...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Me and my kids, love seeing this kind mistake. Turns into a great lesson for them.

They knew straight away not to mess with Kyoto.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

English in Japan is not there for any discernible meaning to be gained from reading it-I learned that a long time ago....

So true bro****.

Japan lives in its own bubble and they don't give flute what others think about their translations on t-shirts, signs, etc.

Some on these boards get too self-righteously uppity.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Soooo stupid this. It is everywhere . t-shirts, signs , emails . Japanese will never speak English properly.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They responded by saying that the Japanese person in their sales department who had written it would be offended if they did so and this was more important than having a sign with correct English. Oh, well.

I'm actually surprised that they would even respond with an excuse like that, rather than "Yeh thanks, we'll pass your message along" kinda thing and just not do anything.

I hate it when I get 'feedback' from an in-house 'checker' saying "文法ミスを修正" when the copy was intended to be like that (common ones tend to use the words "as" or "yet" or some such). Obviously I can't leave it alone and respond back with my reasoning and links with examples to back it up...but it just wastes yet another 10 minutes...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why does language matter fo much in business and politics?

Well, throughout human history wars were started because of miscommunication and misunderstandings.

It is also one of many reasons why we have and need a Lingua Franca.

And why we need more people who master such to perfection.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They don’t want to learn English by all possible means and as a foreigner I have to respect that wish. That’s why they still make errors in every word or sentence and I had not a single customer at my little language school for 13 years now. lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As a Canadian writer I find the whole 'Engrish' thing in Japan more than just a bit sad. It's pathetic how many bad examples actually exist, especially on clothing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That’s why they still make errors in every word or sentence and I had not a single customer at my little language school for 13 years now. lol

I think the problem lies elsewhere, to be honest...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Next question, are other languages bludgeoned in the same manner or is it just English. Korean is at least the same language order - what about French or German for instance?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I always thought it was cute when someone would ask you to check the English on something and you'd fix some glaring, only for them to tell you that you're wrong . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

error

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi

sorry, that's not what I meant.

mother tongue is one's native language not talking about British English as the main English. Here in Japan mainly talk about the spelling and pronunciation happens between US and British nationals.

For me as the non-native English speaker it's always annoying because 80%spoken English is non-native so from my perspective it really doesn't matter if you are able to understand what the text or conversation is about.

in Japan you can meet very proud English native speakers who are so "sad" that your English is not perfect. Usually if you ask them how many languages do they speak, the answer is always the same: one- my mother tongue. Splendid.

more tolerance would be nice ...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

GWToday  10:55 am JST

.....

Story I heard, those of you that have been here several decades may remember that Panasonic used Woody the Woodpecker as a mascot for the their laptops....

Anyway at some meeting in Tokyo where people from overseas were present in some numbers, a Japanese presenter presented the following slogan in speech:

Touch Woody the Internet Pecker

.......

I heard about this from an American employee of Panasonic at the time. She only mentioned the phrase "Touch Woody", and the lengthy discussion that ensued about why it was not a good idea .....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It would have been more interesting if they made it Haiku-like. It would have killed two birds with one stone; catchy and PR of Japanese culture.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Takara

zichi

in Japan you can meet very proud English native speakers who are so "sad" that your English is not perfect. Usually if you ask them how many languages do they speak, the answer is always the same: one- my mother tongue. Splendid.

more tolerance would be nice ...

I agree with you. I never judge another, in this case Japanese, to speak in English. The first point of all languages is to communicate with another.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The best comment on language I ever heard was by a chiropractor that I had taken a Filipino friend with a backache to see. My friend apologized to the doc for his poor English and got this reply, "I'm sure you speak English much better than I speak your language."

We all need to learn tolerance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

in Japan you can meet very proud English native speakers who are so "sad" that your English is not perfect. Usually if you ask them how many languages do they speak, the answer is always the same: one- my mother tongue. Splendid.

I am not sure that I recognise this. Why would they be sad? I think that pretty much everyone recognises that it is particularly hard for Japanese to learn English and that this situation is made even worse by the education system.

This does not give an excuse for butchering English on posters and advertising. I actually find it quite funny, but I still think that people should treat other's language with respect. The same applies to those who adorn things with kanji but don't care what they say or mean (Superdry clothing I'm talking about you!).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Someone mentioned a lingua franca.

It used to be French, today it is English, not looking forward to a day when it is Mandarin. Nothing against the Chinese, but their language is quite beyond my reach. We have an expression over here, "It's Greek to me," but in Greece the expression goes, "It's Chinese to me."

We had been planning a trip to Greece, and I thought it would be fun to wear a t-shirt that said, in Greek, "It's Greek to me." Once we got there, several native Greek speakers patiently explained to me that in Greek the proper way of expressing that sentiment is to refer to the Chinese language. I think the point is that differences in idiomatic expression are endemic from culture to culture, and it is better to enjoy the difference than to get offended. Or, as the French are said to say, "Vive la difference!", although that expression is meant to convey differences between the sexes, rather than between cultures. Whew, how exhausting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heck, native English speakers most often do not speak good English. Marcus up above mentions "me and my kids". Uh, that should be "my kids and I". It isn't confined to Japan by any means. My wife comes from Shanghai which has its own unique language that is unintelligible to someone from elsewhere in China and her English teachers did her no favors. She never uses the verb "to be". If I set the temperature on the air conditioning too low when we leave the house she will tell me "if you do that it will on all day". She tells our 6 yo boy "don't screaming". She will often say of a situation "it's going to worse". On a spreadsheet she will label a column "medical costing". It should be "medical costs". We just laugh. My lame attempts at Mandarin are just as hard on their ears I assume. I still chuckle when I recall the name of a baby apparel store in Taipei. It was called "Turd Baby". You can drive around parts of Los Angeles and see some hilarious examples of both Chinglish and Spanglish.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Oh, and there was an invitation many years ago on a US Navy installation inviting the crew to a fair well party for two departing officers with first names of Jack and Bob. We were invited to "come see Bob and Jack off". Whoops. Almost as good as touching Woody the Internet pecker!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

US companies have similar problems. Years ago Chevrolet tried selling a car in Latin America called the Nova. Uh, in Spanish "no va" means no go. Clumsy naming or maybe? Or taking truth in advertising too seriously, lol?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I heard about this from an American employee of Panasonic at the time. She only mentioned the phrase "Touch Woody", and the lengthy discussion that ensued about why it was not a good idea 

About ten years ago a house builder was trying to promote their so called eco friendly houses and all their campaign material used the English phrase “Feel Wood” as the main slogan. I assume they did check with a native English speaker then just ignored them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heck, native English speakers most often do not speak good English. Marcus up above mentions "me and my kids". Uh, that should be "my kids and I".

As "speaking good English" should be "speaking English well."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She tells our 6 yo boy "don't screaming". 

She doesn’t speak to him in Chinese?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As "speaking good English" should be "speaking English well."

I said "native English speakers most often do not speak good English". That is grammatically. Read carefully before commenting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

She doesn’t speak to him in Chinese?

She does, and he understands but he is afraid to speak it. He will respond to her in English. Most of the time he gets chewed out in Mandarin but not always so I get to hear her say "don't yelling" or similar. His older sister (28 yo) lived in Shanghai until age 10. She can speak Mandarin but cannot read or write. She has two demanding college degrees in the US so no dummy. Mandarin is just a tough language to learn. Shanghainese is beyond comprehension unless you live there and speak it daily.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I said "native English speakers most often do not speak good English". That is grammatically.

Grammatically what?

"Good English" is what - English absence of evil intent? Or of negativity? I'm not sure how you can qualify English as "good or bad".

You can however speak English well or poorly. Or any language really.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan's version of Sharknado. I can't wait to see it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too funny.

https://www.engrish.com/2017/04/if-these-arent-diapers-im-outta-here/

https://www.engrish.com/2006/11/turd-times-a-charm/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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