Japanese

“A snowman tolerates while freezing.” Mystery product’s label is questionable and hilarious!

First impressions are very important, not only for people but for products too. A product’s packaging and labels can make or break a deal depending on whether the design and text on it appeals to the consumer. And, as you know, some companies choose to scrimp and save on hiring a professional to handle their translation needs. In many of these cases, the joke’s on them because they end up with hilarious gibberish on their products.

A Japanese Twitter user recently shared a photo of a Chinese product that had Japanese written on its warning label, and the text was so bad we couldn’t even imagine what product that label was supposed to be on! Take a guess and join us after the break!

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Language fail: 22 funny and embarrassing tales of Japanese language missteps

They say that one of the main reasons so few Japanese people master the English language is because they’re worried about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves. While we do wish more Japanese would break out their English a little more often (get a couple of drinks into your coworkers and you’ll be amazed at how much English they actually know), at the same time we can’t really blame them for being reluctant to speak, because learning a second language as an adult can be tough.

After all, when our words fail us, it can not only result in confusion, but very often shock, laughter, and even anger. Just ask the kind folks who were good enough to share with us their most awkward and memorable mistakes made when speaking – or rather trying to speak – Japanese.

Join us after the jump for 22 tales of language mishaps. Oh, and maybe make some notes while you do so that none of these ever happen to you!

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10 Japanese quirks we could live without

As much as we at RocketNews24 love living in Japan, and have learned many life lessons here, we can’t deny that there are some things about the country that simply drive us crazy! It turns out some of these points are universally dreaded by foreigners living here–little quirky things that we just can’t really get used to no matter how long we’ve been in the country.

These are not things that are any big deal overall, but if you’re already having a “bad Japan day” where nothing is really going right, or you’re missing your family, food and cat back home, then encountering  just one of these things can be enough to push you over the edge.

After pooling some common quirky Japanese things we “love to hate,” now allow us to get a few of these things off our hairy chests!

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“Don’t touch my moustache!” Japanese that sounds like English but isn’t, and vice versa!

When you start learning another language, like, say, Japanese, it’s common to come across certain words that sound like English words, but aren’t. For example, the Japanese word “hai” which means yes, sounds a lot like the greeting “hi” in English. Another example might be that “ohayou” meaning good morning sounds a lot like the US state of Ohio.

But, naturally, this goes both ways. There are also plenty of examples of Japanese speakers finding “Japanese” meaning in English words that a native English speaker would never think of…

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Japanese language test-takers flip out over Engrish bathroom sign, get correction-happy

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a test of Japanese as a second language knowledge and is held twice a year in Japan and many other countries around the world. Since the test is entirely in Japanese, it can be taken by anyone regardless of English ability.

Even so, the organization decided to put up English translations on bathroom signs at a test location in Japan, and some irritated English-speaking members of the Grammar Police decided to do a little editing work whilst sitting on the potty.

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Here’s what angry girlfriends yelling at you in six different languages sounds like!

Even the happiest of couples has the occasional argument, and some people even genuinely enjoy a good squabble with the other half in order to keep things exciting and blow away the cobwebs every now and then. But what does it sound like to have an irate ladyfriend berate you in different languages?

In this video from YouTuber The World of Dave, poor Dave himself endures the screams of seven ranting ladies as they give his ear a good bending in their native tongues. Which would you least like to be on the receiving end of?

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Enjoy a little lesson in Japanese sign language – it may prevent serious misunderstandings someday

I always thought sign language had a certain elegance and grace to it, and I always wanted to learn it. But like many other things in life such as fashion design and ice sculpting there was never a pressing need master it, especially with my busy schedule of eating wasps.

Luckily, short programs often shown on TV and many videos online teach a few useful words in sign language and allow me to pick it up bit by bit. Now, I’d like to share a few of these so that we can all learn and better ourselves just a little bit.

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Students of Japanese despair – you’ve probably been writing some of the simplest kanji wrong

Remember when you decided to study Japanese because kanji characters are just so much fun to learn? No, me neither. While it’s true that kanji can be fascinating, and they do get easier to learn and make more sense as you progress, sometimes you’ll come across something that makes you feel like you’ve been sent all the way back to the beginning again.

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“Supreme Court Beef” and other translation fails from the new Taco Bell Japan website

Media in Japan, us included, have been all over Taco Bell’s return to the country this week, but talk hasn’t been entirely of tacos. The Taco Bell Japan website was also making news when Japanese speakers noticed it had some pretty terrible and funny English-to-Japanese translations.

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Russian illustrator wows with bold, simple art in tribute to Studio Ghibli【Pictures】

The characters and scenery of Studio Ghibli movies inspire all kinds of artwork by fans, from impressively detailed posters to super-minimalist art. Russian artist mr von ungarn has been delighting and perplexing Japanese netizens with his adorable, naive-style depictions of our favourite Ghibli characters. Check them out after the jump/

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Pronunciation anxiety: many Japanese people don’t want to speak English unless it’s “perfect”

With the 26 letters of the alphabet, we can make pretty much any sound present in the majority of languages. But Japanese just doesn’t contain certain sounds present in English, like “th” or “v”, and their “r” is somewhere right between our “r” and “l”, making them sound almost exactly the same to Japanese ears.

Since most Japanese people grow up only speaking Japanese, it means that when they start learning English at school, they either have to learn entirely new sounds (difficult) or else try to render English in Japanese sounds (which isn’t accurate). As a result, many Japanese English learners feel a lot of anxiety over the accuracy of their pronunciation. But should that really be holding them back?

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Why Korean and Japanese people can’t speak English, in their own words【Video】

Native English teachers who have worked in Korea or Japan have developed very strong opinions about the systematic approach each country takes when teaching English. Here at RocketNews24, we’ve previously talked about how all the focus is on test scores and how native English speakers are used as glorified tape-recorders. We’ve also mentioned that there are Japanese English teachers with limited ability to speak (let alone teach) the subject, textbooks that bore the students into a coma and students who are too afraid to try because they don’t want to make any mistakes.

We could go on and on about the issues plaguing the system, but in the end, it is just advice coming from outsiders. Perhaps the ones we need to hear more from are the students themselves. What better source of feedback is there than the people who have experienced the process first-hand and now live with the fruits of their studies, or lack thereof?

Do those people identify similar problems in the current system? Has the presence of foreign English teachers in class actually had an impact on their studies? Let’s find out, when Korean and Japanese who are living overseas are asked about their English education.

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Six outdoor Japanese hot springs you can visit right now (with Google Street View)

Almost everyone loves soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath, called rotenburo in Japanese. The combination of soothing natural mineral water and being buck naked outside is enough to wash all your stress away. Just look at those little capybara in the photo above. Don’t they look so relaxed?

If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, we highly recommend you take a dip in a rotenburo. But if you aren’t able to make the long journey over to this wonderful country right away, might we suggest taking a virtual tour of six outdoor hot springs in Japan?

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We test our Japanese staff’s knowledge of kanji by making them take a kanji aptitude test

Anyone who’s serious about studying the Japanese language will soon encounter that seemingly insurmountable wall known as kanji. Many of those people will inevitably think, “Just how many of them do I have to learn to be able to read Japanese?” Well, to put it simply, it depends on to what degree you want to be able to read like a native speaker.

Of course, the meaning of “to read like a native speaker” is also up for debate. In search of this answer, we had four adult members of our Japanese staff take three different levels of a kanji aptitude test. How do you think they fared?

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The number one thing that foreign men find “not so kawaii” about Japanese women

For some reason, the Japanese internet just loves polling its readers about a variety of (often mundane) topics in the form of surveys, polls, and other data collection methods. One of the biggest themes revolves around international perceptions of Japan, particularly in the realms of dating and relationships, as our site has featured multiple times in the past.

According to the latest poll conducted in a joint effort between Omron Healthcare Co., Ltd. and Wacoal (a lingerie company based in Kyoto) for an ongoing women empowerment project, 98% of foreign men perceive Japanese women to be kawaii (“cute”). But can you guess the number one thing that the majority of those men find to be unattractive about Japanese women, and what researchers are planning to do about it?

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Russian beauty talks about troubles foreigners face when first moving to Japan 【Video】

Japan attracts foreigners of all kinds and people decide to come here for all sorts of different reasons. But, as with any culture different from one’s own, there can be some aspects of Japanese culture that are hard for foreigners to wrap their heads around or get used to, such as deciding if you should help a crying girl.

Ashiya, a beautiful Russian expat, recently shared some of her difficulties upon coming to Japan on her YouTube channel*. We have a feeling that these will strike a chord with many other expats and internationalists interested in Japan as well, Russian or not.

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We’re struggling to find the Japan in Bose’s new “JAPAN CONCEPT MODEL” headphones

What’s that you say? Bose headphones in two brand new limited edition Japanese designs? Well, that sounds right up our street!

American audio specialists Bose continue to lead the noise-cancelling headphone market, but at US$250-$300, their QuietComfort 25 headphones are something of an investment. So what have the designers at Bose done with these new limited-edition “Japan Concept” headphones to warrant the bumped-up 43,200 yen ($366) price tag?

Why, they’ve made them in “Japanese colours” like black and gold, of course!

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Struggling with Japanese? Let Tako lend you a hand…or five

Yes, I know octopi have eight tentacles not six, but Tako of Takos Japanese has five. It’s the same cartoon logic that makes the Simpson family all have eight fingers. And yes, I know the name should probably read “Tako’s Japanese.” Really though, let’s not get bogged down in talk of appendages and apostrophes right now.

Today we’re here to look at a new Japanese study app released by Spain-based Giant Soul Interactive. A lot of Japanese study apps found online are either fun but limited in content or deep but boring and stodgy. Learn Japanese with Tako (recently changed from “Takos Japanese”) aims to strike a happy balance of a fun way to learn the language that’s also rich in content. Let’s find out if they succeed.

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Islamic State militants demand $200m for release of Japanese nationals, threaten their execution

A video purported to have been made by Islamic State militants showing a man dressed in black standing over two Japanese hostages has been released online. The video addresses both the Japanese government and Japanese public directly and demands a ransom of US$200 million, to be paid in less than 72 hours.

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Flipping the kanji for “husband” upside-down reveals slightly worrying double meaning

The common stereotype about women among sexually frustrated, mostly parents’ basement-dwelling, men is that girls only go for attractive, rich guys, and never the nice, tender guys with warm hearts and chic fedoras.

Well, when it comes to one of those observations, anyway, there appears to be at least one cultural precedent of a diabolical hidden message that seemingly proves the stereotype right in one of the very words that defines men and women’s relationship in Japan…

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