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Image: Asics

Official Tokyo Marathon T-shirts get recalled for English spelling mistake

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The Tokyo Marathon was only held for the first time in 2007, but it’s quickly become one of the premier distance running events in Japan. Conditions for this year’s iteration look to be just about ideal, with clear skies and mild temperatures forecast for the start of the race at 9:10 a.m. on Sunday. But while no participants have started running just yet, there’s already been a stumble from sponsor and supplier Asics.

Among other commemorative items, the sportwear company is selling a Tokyo Marathon 2024 Limited-edition Souvenir T-shirt through its online shop and at brick-and-mortar vendors. Available in white, black, or navy blue, the front of the shirt has depictions of some of the famous pieces of Tokyo architecture the runners will go by during the race, and on the back is a map of the course with “RUN TOKYO” written in large lettering.

That’s not the only bit of English text on the shirt, though. The beginning and end of the course are also marked in English, as “START” and……”FUNISH.”

Even in a country where the fondness for loanwords often outstrips skill at spelling them, this is a pretty big blunder. The English “finish” shows up frequently in signage, user interfaces, and graphic design in Japan, so it’s surprising to see that funish slipped through to the shirts’ production phase.

So how did this happen? One possibility has to do with the structure of the Japanese language. In Japanese, consonants generally have to be followed by a vowel. However, much like how Japanese famously doesn’t have an “L” sound, not every consonant/vowel combination we have in English exists in Japanese. Within orthodox Japanese linguistics, the only vowel that F can be followed by is U, which could explain why no one at Asics caught the funish mistake before the shirts were printed and put on sale.

There is a way to brute-force a fi sound when writing Japanese by using katakana, the script used for writing foreign language-sourced words. Even then, though, it involves using the katakana character for “fu” and adding a smaller version of the katakana for “i” immediately after.

Image: SoraNews24

However, this “fi” sound isn’t something that technically exists within Japanese pronunciation, and its rendering still contains the character for “fu,” so once again, “funish” might not have immediately jumped out as wrong to Asics’ Japanese staff, including whoever input the text in the design phase.

Then, of course, there’s the non-linguistics-related possible explanation, which is just that I and U are next to each other on a standard keyboard layout, and that funish was just an errant keystroke typo.

Regardless of how it came about, though, Asics has issued an apology for the mistake, saying “We deeply apologize for the trouble caused to our valued customers who purchased the affected items” and offering full refunds, even if the shirts have already been worn, adding “Moving forward, we will be making thorough efforts to improve our quality control, and we ask for your understanding and continued support.”

While it’s definitely an embarrassing mistake for Asics, X reactions have been far from universally negative.

“Funish…ah man, that’s kinda cute.”

“I think they should just go ahead and make the actual banner at the end of the course say funish now.”

“I feel like even a junior high school student would be able to spell finish.”

“I bet someone got royally chewed out for this.”

“I think the designer and Asics person in charge of the project should both get fired.”

“I actually want one of these shirts even more now. It’s like a collector’s item. ‘I hope people think of it like Fun + finish = funish.’”

“It sounds like a mix of ‘fun + run + finish,’ meaning ‘Let’s have a fun run all the way to the end.’ I think this might be a misprint that goes on to become a new buzzword.”

In all fairness, “funish” is exactly the sort of pun-adjacent wordplay that Japan has a major soft spot for, so there’s a good chance that some people who ended up with misprinted shirts will be happy to keep them. For those that want a properly spelled finish to the situation, Asics will provide full refunds through its online return form here.

Source: Asics via IT Media, X

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Great new word! Sounds fun.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Very fun-ish. They should keep it.

16 ( +21 / -5 )

from sponsor and supplier Asics.

Why can’t the Asics manager in charge of this fumble demonstrate a little humility and ask someone to check it?

13 ( +16 / -3 )

That funish is on purpose.

Probably the same guy who did the Tokyo Olympigs 2020.

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

I think it's not only hilarious they didn't simply bother to ask someone, but that they spoke the truth; marathons aren't that fun, they are just fun-ish.

-3 ( +16 / -19 )

Must’ve been a Kiwi proofreader…..

4 ( +8 / -4 )

It's actually better than finish, they should leave it.

Reminds me of the time I arrived in Tokyo a zillion years ago. Every McDonalds had signs saying "NO SMORKING".

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Everything is mystic, nothing a mistake.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

They should've just pushed a marketing spin that it was deliberately meant to be Fun and Finish.

Everyone would love it. Japan would have a cute Image. Beers and high fives all round.

No high touches though, that's creepy

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Asiaman7Today  05:03 pm JST

from sponsor and supplier Asics.

“Why can’t the Asics manager in charge of this fumble demonstrate a little humility and ask someone to check it?”

A bucho ask me to check something once, and I corrected a glaring error. He insisted that I was wrong.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had this happen.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Better don't start with such corrections. Considering the labor shortage and such similar errors all around, this task would become an issue reaching into eternity. lol

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Keep it if you got one. They could be worth a few bob later.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Reminds me of the time I arrived in Tokyo a zillion years ago. Every McDonalds had signs saying "NO SMORKING"

lol. My fav is "Well come"

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Leave it on there for 'fun'

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Having run lotsa marathons, I call it apt: finishing is fun, but one's body is in excruciating pain, so overall: kinda funish.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No recall! Funish it!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If you're not finished it you'll get funnish! So be careful !

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

After 26 miles, and you're sprinting to the tape, all you're thinking is, 'man, its a really pinishing funish'.....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Always makes you wonder about that famed attention to detail.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Before they disappear can one of you posters get one and send it to me? Adult size medium. Any colour. And don't worry about being paid for it. I can get the ¥ at my bank or the currency exchange I always use before travelling to Japan. A little cash in the mail might be a nice thing to get, don't you think?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think it was just a simple typo error as "u" is beside "i"

Unfortunately, no one double checked before publishing

The フィ explanation is ridiculous

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Keep it! It’s, well, funish!

4 ( +5 / -1 )


-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Engrish hits again! I've always thought it was a small mind that couldn't find multiple ways to spell the same word.

I'm with Sam. Keep it!

This misspelling could have become the new catch phrase for the marathon. It isn't offensive at all and they should have "owned it" - and put it onto everything for all future marathon advertising. Corporate people take themselves too seriously sometimes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ask in good old US for make a T-shirt with Japanese language printing and let's see the mistakes they surely can do too..

Anyway, king of funish, LOL

-1 ( +2 / -3 )


Ohhh my mistake..

So funish..


-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One day the internet will arrive in Japan and then they will be able to easily check these things.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Having completed 15 marathons and hundreds of road races "fun runs". I think they should have left it. The part of the marathon that's fun is crossing the finish line. So funish is a perfect ending for a marathon.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japanese isn't a logical language either written or spoken.

English is worse.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Go to any school in Japan and witness the ineffectiveness of teaching foreign languages-it’s painful…

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm not very surprised, as here in Japan I have seen spelling mistakes even on traffic signs.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The national broadcaster NHK has a program called "Another Stories". When I complained about the illogicity and ungrammaticality of the expression, they replied that the expression was a proper expression (noun) and so they had every right to call the program by whatever name they liked.

In comparison with other languages, like French, for example, Japanese is very nonchalant about using loan words or supposed loan words (Japanese-made English loans). This may be related with the nation's national character to easily succumb to or adapt to a superb foreign culture. 

It was the Chinese language, especially its writing system, that played a role model for elite Japanese; today, it's the English language that overtook Chinese. English loans or supposed English loans (Japanese-made English loans) are inundating the Japanese language like hell.

I wonder how Japanese will have changed in a hundred years from now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have two comments on this topic.

First is why is a T shirt necessary here? Why make people pay more for entry and then force a souvenir on them? This is established behaviour for sports events, but it goes against SDGs and mottainai. No serious runner will wear the t shirt when running, because their own running gear will be far higher quality. My kids did sports and we have all manner of weird shaped towels and poorly fitting t shirts from the events they entered. I would far rather the events been 500 or 1000 yen cheaper. Marathons, cycling events, and the like are very expensive to enter as it is, especially if they make you check in the day before and force you to stay locally.

Secondly, I hope they have the humility to accept that others may find humour in this situation. It is okay for others to laugh at your mistakes and is not nasty of them to do so. Some Japanese get extremely precious when English mistakes are pointed out to them and go into an obsessive "must save face" mode. You made a mistake, others found it funny, and you should just live with it. There is no need for "gyaku-gire" (losing your temper).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I like the FUNish. The Marathon should be FUN.

Keep the shirts.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What a terribly queer affair

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Marathon is today. Good luck to all the runners in the FUNish race.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My bad, the marathon is tomorrow, the 3rd.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The more reason to have things written in another language checked by a native speaker of that language.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have seen many signs in the UK with misspelled English including what was painted on the road.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was at a college graduation that had a sign in lights saying, "Your the greatest."

I was driving on the interstate and saw a sign reading, "Stay in shcool."

The US could use a few proofreaders, too. Incidents like this one with the T-shirts happen all over the world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I understand what everyone is saying here about EngRish in Japan


There is no deep explanation behind this mistake

It's really just a typo error (plus the negligence of the person who approved it for printing)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am reminded of a beloved Economics professor during my graduate education who is originally from China and came to the US on a Fullbright Scholarship once gave us a "Finally Exam". We were all looking at each other trying not to laugh wondering if the error was a deliberate word play or just her normal Engrish. During lessons, which typically involved picking apart differential equations, instead of saying "lets examine the variable alpha", what came out was "let's exam arfa".

My own wife is prone to say things like "I will back soon", "don't too much" or "it's going to worse". English is a tough language to learn. If you asked me the parts of speech or whether a particular word was a verb or adverb I wouldn't answer correctly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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