There are plenty of difficulties in learning Japanese, from the thousands of kanji characters you have to memorize to the fact that the language doesn’t have a future tense. Pronunciation, though, isn’t that big of a hurdle. Japanese contains only 47 syllables to master, which may sound like a lot, but is in actuality pretty paltry compared to most other languages.
One of the biggest effects this limited pronunciation repertoire has is that Japanese is filled with homonyms. For example, kyoushi could mean either “a teacher” or “death by way of insanity.” Where there are words that sound alike, there are puns, and now where there are puns, there’s the president of Domino’s Pizza Japan.
Domino’s Japan has recently set up a website featuring videos of its corporate head Scott Oelkers, or President Scott. In his introductory clip, President Scott explains that after three years working at his post in Japan, he’s become enamored with dajare, or Japanese puns.
Appearing this time without Domino’s marketing collaborator and virtual idol Hatsune Miku, Scott will be presenting a new dajare each day on the Domino’s website in a feature called “Dajare a Day,” rendered in Japanese as Dajara Ya De, which is, unsurprisingly, a pun meaning “It’s a Dajare.” The site is viewable here.
Scott gets less than 30 seconds into his first monologue before unleashing the grandfather of dajare: “futon ga futonda,” or “the sheets (futon) flew off .”
Incidentally, the grandmother of dajare is “buta ga butta” / “the pig (buta) smacked (butta) something.”
Well, like E.B. White taught us, explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog: you learn how it’s supposed to work, but something still dies in the process. Except that attitudes about puns are universal across cultural and linguistic lines, and in general nobody ever really thinks a dajare is as funny as the person who said it. Here are a few more of President Scott’s comedic offerings. Be sure to break these out with your Japanese friends to guarantee applause, and quite possibly a few cringes:
“Domino no kuru ga yatte kuru.”
“The Domino’s crew (kuru) is on its way (yatte kuru).
“Ichimae muryou? Sore kanmuryo
“One free (muryo) pizza? I’m so moved (kanmuryo).”
“Tabesugite, i ga mottsarera.”
“I ate too much, and my stomach is mozzarella.” The actual phrase is “i ga motareru / I feel bloated.”
“Sono toppingu choisu, cho issu.”
“Your choice (choisu) of toppings is great (cho issu).”
However, there is a reward for those who endure the dajare onslaught. Choosing to like one of the videos through your Facebook or Twitter account nets you a coupon for either 15 or 30 percent off your next Domino’s Pizza purchase.
With daily updates, it’s worth checking in on Dajare a Day from time to time, but remember it’s best in small doses. Just like you shouldn’t eat a whole pizza by yourself, too much cheese in one sitting is something you might later regret.