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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Japanese about town 日本語


It's Pamela's birthday on Monday, so this morning I rode into T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中 to search for a suitable birthday present. Every year it seems to get harder and harder to decide what to give my wife as a gift - this time I decided to buy a couple of CD's by a Japanese singer she likes: Rimi Natsukawa 夏川りみ. After some looking around, I was finally able to locate some discs, but it wasn't easy. I have no idea how Taiwanese CD stores sort their JPop sections. With Western music, it's done alphabetically, but with Japanese artists, they don't go by あ・か・さ etc., as you would find in Japan.

The section of Taichung where I found the CD's is in the area around the Chungyo (Chungyu/Jhongyou) Department Store 中友百貨店. As it's something of a hip place, I wasn't surprised to find Japanese being used on some shop signs. Here are some examples:

These are from a restaurant called "Buma Buma" that serves spicy hotpot, a favorite of many Taiwanese (including Pamela). The Japanese reads "Kyo mo, ashita mo, nabe ga suki" 今日も明日もなべが好き, meaning one likes nabe both today and tomorrow. I don't know why it was put on the signs, as the hotpot that's dished out all over Taiwan is like nothing you would ever find in Japan (except, perhaps, at a Taiwanese restaurant!), but I guess it looks cool.

On the left is Katsuya, which pretentiously describes itself as a パン工房, or a "bread workshop". What's wrong with being a "bakery" パン屋? On the right is a clothing store, on the sign of which is written 藤原本鋪, which I interpret to mean "Fujiwara Main Store", though I would've thought 本店 would've been more suitable. In smaller writing underneath it says しなやかな洋服屋(ようふくや), "the pliant tailor shop". It's all a little strange.

Not to be outdone by its much larger neighbor to the south, Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原 served up some examples of its own as I was walking around in the late afternoon today:

The photo on the left was taken in front of a nabe restaurant near the Pacific Department Store 太洋百貨店 called 六條龍, a name that should be written as ろくじょうたつ in hiragana, but which says ろくじゅうけつ on the sign out front. I've blogged on this before, so I won't bother with the same photo again, but today I noticed the words in small print for the first time: 事前に電話にて預約可能, which is trying to inform the public that it's possible to telephone in advance, presumably regarding orders. Who do they think actually reads the sign?

The people in the picture on the right are not part of a sign, of course. Rather, they were a friendly trio of senior citizens enjoying a game of gateball ゲートボール, which is very popular among retirees in Japan, and thus is in keeping with the overall Japanese theme of today's post.

Finally, there's these two pics:

Please excuse the poor quality of the photograph on the left. I took it as quickly as I could, from as far away as possible, as it was posted on the outside of a video game arcade. In Taiwan, entry into arcades is prohibited to those under 18, with the result being that many such establishments cater to older men, are staffed with women wearing short skirts and are run by gangsters 暴力団組員. Best not to be seen doing something suspicious in front of one of these places. The sign is no doubt for one of the games, 闘神雷電 "The Fighting God of Thunder and Lightning". According to my wife, この男、豪にして快 means something like "This man is strong and fast". Yar!

The other picture was taken in front of a convenience store コンビに. The sign is supposed to read ケシゴム, which means "eraser" (or perhaps "rubber", judging by some of the toys inside). However, it looks like ケツゴム instead. It's hard to tell - not only is my English getting worse the longer I stay in Taiwan, but so is my 日本語!

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