Japanese Bathroom Trash?

The image to the left here is from the men’s bathroom in the office of a friend of mine.  On the sink, just left sitting there, is a pack of cigarettes with a lighter inside.  On the pack, the building cleaning crew has left a note.

Loosely translated, the cleaning crew is asking if it’s okay to throw the pack away or if someone wants to claim it. The date of April 29th is at the top of the note, and it adds that if it’s okay to trash the pack, then tear off the bottom of the perforated note and the cleaning crew will trash it.  After 1 day of sitting unclaimed, the pack will automatically be trashed.

Here’s the literal translation: “We don’t know if it’s okay to throw this away. We will will leave it for today.  If it can be thrown away, please tear off the part below the perforated line. Thank you.”

Think about this: someone actually has to tear off the bottom section in order to have the cleaning crew – or someone else – throw it away!   This was clearly meant for use on larger office items, so as my friend asks, do you think someone might have a sense of humor??  My friend also points out, you have to think about the time people spent to design this system and then create the perfect sticky and perforated forms for it.  Training for the cleaning crew was probably involved.  I mean really – how does one decide what is just to be automatically trashed and what should be considered worth saving?  It illustrates not only the cleanliness of the Japanese, but also the orderliness of the society.

Where else but in Japan would you have the option to re-claim your lost cigarette pack and lighter?  I’ve said it before: what a country!

Constructions Signs – Taking Politeness To A New Level

I’d like to share this sign I saw on the street the other day:

This is pretty typical for a sign in Tokyo.  If you really look at it, the man in the picture is bowing.  This is a sign near a construction site, and the sign is warning pedestrians to take care.  It also apologizes for the inconvenience.  Apologies are generally accompanied by a bow.

Signs bow everywhere, though.  When you buy a ticket on the Yamanote line at some machines, a cartoon character thanks you and bows on the screen.  The animation is a hoot!  Here it’s a still drawing, but you get the idea.  Kindness and politeness reign.  It’s a lovely concept.

Sneak Peek Sunday!

The sign says it all!

When I pass this sign, I always wonder what is going on here.  Are they teaching adults to behave like children? Are they teaching children to behave like adults?  Perhaps they are just studying childish, silly people.  “Infantile” means childish or babyish and is not synonymous with infant!

Please look for my book, Lost with Translation, set to be published by Discover21 on November 15th.  Don’t worry – you’ll be able to get it on Amazon in the U.S. as well as in bookstores here in Tokyo!

Sneak-Peek Sunday: To Smoke or Not to Smoke?

My book, Lost with Translation, is set for publication from Discover21 Publications on November 15th.  Please enjoy this funny look at one of the signs from the upcoming book!

Spotted at Starbucks in Shinjuku

At Starbucks, patrons can smoke for free, even on the terrace.  That’s what this sign says anyway.  Smokers will soon flock to this Starbucks in Shinjuku in order to smoke as much as they would like, all for no cost.  No I’m joking. I think they forgot the verb in the sentence.  They meant, “please let us BE smoke-free.”  People who go there for the free smoking will be sorely disappointed.

Sneak-peek Sunday!

My book, Lost With Translation, is due to come out from Discovery 21 publications sometime in the late fall.  Enjoy this little teaser!

This particular doozy is from the Diesel shop in Roppongi Hills. I checked carefully, and this is an actual Diesel Jeans Advertising campaign.  If you look on their website, they list their marketing campaign with their “smart is” and “stupid is” comments.  However, I think the campaign would be more effective if the words were spelled properly.

Check out the spelling on this one!

Just as a side note, I think Diesel, as a company, has some wildly interesting advertising campaigns.  A few months ago the front of this store read (in bright red blow-up letters, not written on the window, but displayed in the window) “Sex Sells. Unfortunately, we sell jeans.”  That one was spelled properly.

A New Feature: Sunday Teaser!

Great news! Discovery 21 Publications will be publishing my book of Japanese signs translated into wayward English.  So as a teaser until the book is published this fall, I will be putting one sign on my blog every Sunday!  Enjoy it and please look for the book when it comes out!!

Welcome – spend money somehow

This sign implies that the shop really wants customers to spend money and they will help them do it in any way possible.  The directions to the nearest ATM are sketchy at best, but they’re there.  The sign means that the ATM is near here; it’s about 150 meters down the road.