Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fun with Signs

Here are a few of my favorite signs from my most recent trip to Japan.

I saw this sign in Asakusa at one of the shops that line the path to Sensōji Temple. It's rare to see Japanese people eating and walking down the street at the same time, so the people who work at this tea and sweets shop posted this sign in English and Korean, asking patrons to eat and drink at the store instead of walking around with their purchased food and beverages. If you choose to ignore this sign, not only will you look like a moron, but you'll walk around for hours with an empty cup because trash cans aren't on every corner as in American cities.

I love this sign, which was on the bathroom door in my Kyoto hotel. I discussed the bad punctuation in a previous post, but let's revisit it, shall we? The first period is not necessary because "because a fire alarm will be worked by a steam" is not a complete sentence. And if it were a complete sentence, the B in "because" should be capitalized. Since it's not a sentence and shouldn't stand alone, the sign should read

Please close the bath door because a fire alarm will be worked by a steam.

Now let's talk about the actual words in the sentence. I think it should say

Please close the bathroom door because steam will set off the fire alarm.

I think the person who translated this sign from the Japanese consulted Babel Fish and went with the literal translation.

This sign is on the bullet train from Hiroshima to Iwakuni. It says that in case of emergency, push the button. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well . . .

. . . considering the button is about seven feet in the air, not many people would be able to push that button should the need arise. Although Japanese people are growing taller, the average height for Japanese males is 5'7" and for women is 5'2".

Encountering funny signs and translations is one of my favorite things about visiting Japan.


Daniel said...

I can't believe how clean the cities are considering the lack of available garbage cans. I guess they're just raised to be more considerate out there.

shrinecastle said...

Yeah, it is a little shocking. Recycling bins are next to vending machines. People buy a drinks, immediately consume them, then toss the bottles into the appropriate bin. Amazing how easy that is.