Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Today I went to Ashiya, to buy something for a friend. What I wanted to buy was not there, but I had an interesting time anyway. After I had unsuccessfully looked for what I wanted in the appropriate shop, I went into a stationery shop, because ... er ... um ... because it was there. What other reason do you need to go into a stationery shop? I am addicted to stationery shops, and they are dangerous places for me. I usually end up coming home with something utterly wonderful and utterly unnecessary that I will never look at again, much less use.

This time I managed to restrain myself, though. I didn't buy anything. I think that might have been because I got distracted. I was wandering the aisles and had come to the picture frame aisle, which didn't hold much of interest for me so I was just passing through. But there I saw a sign on a shelf. It said:

Please hadle with care.

I contemplated this for a while, wondering, as usual, how people can manage to get even a four word sign wrong. I mean, REALLY. They had to have copied it from somewhere, right? And when they copied it they got it WRONG. It is not even an English mistake. It is a simple COPYING mistake.

I decided that the sign was a reassuring one. I will always be assured of a job here. There is no chance that Japanese people will suddenly 'get' English. It will always be mysterious gobbledegook to them, and I will be the expert.

I wandered a bit further down the aisle, and came across another sign. This one said:

Violators will be pushed.

"OH, YEAH?" I thought. For some reason this sign made me suddenly feel all aggressive.

And then I started to wonder how one 'violated.' I could think of lots of options, but I wasn't sure which ones the sign referred to. There were no clues.

I wanted to take a picture, but although I had my camera with me I wasn't sure that taking pictures was allowed. A lot of shops have 'no cameras' signs. I hadn't seen one, but what if taking pictures turned me into a 'violator'? Also, it was a very narrow aisle, and getting out my camera was too much trouble.

So I didn't take a picture. Sorry. But if you want to see the sign, go to the stationery store on the north side of JR Ashiya station and turn right as you go in. You'll find it under some pink and yellow foam picture frames shaped like feet, with toes and everything. I'm sure they'll still be there. Nobody in their right mind would buy them.


Wiccachicky said...

hahahaha - I used to love the messed up English signs. My friends and I would actually have contests each week to see who could find the funniest one. I think the violators one would have been in the top five easily.

kenju said...

Please don't push me. I request you 'hadle me with care', lest I feel violated!

Cheryl said...


Radioactive Jam said...

I used an online language tool to translate a web page from German to English. The page described a wristwatch; the German version included the phrase "Swiss made" as shown on the watch face. The translation tool's rendering of that phrase?

"Swiss larva."

Ms Mac said...

I *heart* stationary stores so much! They're filled with wondrous things, paper, pens, staplers, hole punches and all things lovely. Mmmmmm.....

I was once with the lovely Antipo in a church in Dijon. We noticed a sign in French which also had badly translated German and English. Surprisingly (or not) the German had been corrected by a member of the public!

The Editter said...

We saw a fabulous sign outside a temple in Bangkok. It said:
Inspire Deeply.
Expire Slowly.

Anonymous said...

Signs don’t have to be physical in nature.

Sometimes they can be ephemeral. Like hearing from a long lost friend...who is still lost.


Pkchukiss said...

The stationary shop is always my equivalent of a shopping spree: I can spend hours inside there fiddling with the pens there, and my friends would be waiting impatiently for me to settle on the one that I liked best.

Perhaps you could leave your name card beside that sign for some blatant free promotion.