Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Most Offensive T-shirt Ever?

It's well known that most Japanese people wearing T-shirts with English slogans have absolutely no idea what they mean. However, I discovered recently that the phenomenon extends to other languages too. During the school trip the other week I spotted one of my JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English) wearing a T-shirt that had something splashed across it in French. It began something like "J'ai envie...", but I couldn't read the rest so I said to her:

"Oh, I see you're wearing a T-shirt written in French [Yes, I'm starting to speak like a school textbook now]. What does it say?"

"It's written in French?" she replied, incredulously.

I rest my case. Of course, now I'm really intrigued as to what it said but I forgot to write it down - I'll take a bet that it's something wildly offensive though.

However, whatever the French T-shirt said I don't think it can even come close to the T-shirt that Flick spotted a three-year-old wearing at the Echizen Pottery Festival last weekend (yes, I know, a pottery festival - there's not much to do round these parts). Here it is... brace yourself...

Yes, you read it right: "I FUCKING HATE..." followed by a list of racial slurs ending in (just out of sight under the fold of the T-shirt) "N***ers". Un-bloody-believable.

Most offensive T-shirt ever? Most probably, and all the worse for the fact that it's being worn by a child. This has got to be the best advert for English learning in Japan I've ever seen - "Learn English Or You Could Accidentally Brand Your Children As Racists".

At least, I really, really hope it was an accident, otherwise that kid has some seriously f**ked-up parents.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Madness in Ishikawa

Sorry for the long gap in-between posts - JETfuel has been taking up all my time, but finally I am free! The wheel of the good ship JETfuel has been passed on to the new editors, Jody and Dan - may the winds of journalism be kind under your captaincy.

Anyway, Ishikawa. During the Golden Week holidays a group of us set out on a 3 day camping trip to the Noto Hanto peninsula in Ishikawa - the sort of finger-like protrusion that sticks out from the mainland into the Sea of Japan. I didn't really know what to expect, having read absolutely nothing about it before, but I had a map with a couple of campsites marked on it so that was enough for me. Into the car we bundled, my poor little Daihatsu Mira straining under the weight of three passengers plus camping gear - in fact we bottomed out the suspension a couple of times. You've gotta love these little k-cars.

Seeing as I was the one who suggested the camping trip in the first place, I became the de-facto "leader", which was a bit of a joke since I had as little idea about where I was going as everyone else. On the plus side though, I had a map, so there was a definite advantage to my position. I carefully selected the Oshima campsite as our first port of call, chiefly because it was the nearest and I couldn't be bothered to carry on driving. Also, my car was falling apart, and Tim had eaten some ill-advised rubbery cheese sausages with egg embedded in them, which was causing him to let off the most tremendous trumps I've had the misfortune to smell.

Upon arrival we quickly evacuated the car (leaving the doors open so the fumes could dissipate) and set up the barbecue. The weather was amazing, the campsite was beautiful (a pine wood set behind some dunes) and the brief glimpse we had of the golden, sandy beach on the way in looked enticing. It was going to be a good holiday.

Once we'd eaten our fill of burgers, shrimp and unidentifiable meat (though in my case I stuck to the peppers and mushrooms, natch) everyone decided it would be a good idea to head off and explore the beach before the sun went down. Off we trooped towards the golden shoreline, only to discover... well, to be blunt, an ecological disaster.

The beach was covered, literally covered, in rubbish. Bottles, cans, shoes, computers, fridges - you name it, it was there. We couldn't believe it. It was by far the worst beach I had ever seen. Ever. I was thinking "Well, perhaps they haven't got round to clearing up yet after the winter", but then that can't be an excuse - it was May after all, not to mention the busiest holiday season of the entire year in Japan. Plus there was far, far too much rubbish - it looked like this stuff had been piling up for years. Some of it had obviously drifted across the sea from Korea, judging by the Korean writing on some of the cans and bottles, but most of it was obviously Japanese, and some of the items were too big to have just been washed up - they must have been dumped. Like this computer...

I think seeing a beach in such a state is all the more shocking when you consider just how clean the rest of Japan is - the cities bask in spotless pavements (despite the bizarre lack of litter bins) and most people are obsessive to the point of being anal about separating and disposing of their rubbish. So what happened at Oshima?

It was a bit like wandering into Japan's bedroom while it was at school and discovering "Asian Babes do Anal" hidden underneath its mattress. I mean, it can bang on about how it's "not normally like this" and "someone else must have put it there" all it wants, but it means nothing as you wave the incriminating evidence in its face.

So much for all the spiel on the Ishikawa prefectural website about "Coexistence of People and Nature". Apparently the "Preservation of our rich natural environment and protection of wild flora and fauna" is one of their primary goals. My arse it is. They really need to work on number 3 first: "Improvement of prefectural citizen's morals regarding the environment".

Actually, speaking of nature preservation, there was a curious sign at the end of the beach, with a picture of two flies on it. I took a photo of it, and later had it translated into English - you won't believe what it says. The beach is a nature preserve. Yep, that's right, apparently the beach is home to a very rare species of sand fly, and there's a 50,000 yen fine for anyone who disturbs the flies, and a possible jail sentence for anyone caught removing them from the beach. Although it seems that leaving bottles, cans and shoes for them to play in is perfectly OK.

As I said, madness. You can read an excellent account of the rest of the trip at Colin's blog - trust me, there was more madness to come.

Colin ponders the horror of it all as he perches atop what could either be a buoy or some sort of abandoned space hopper. Though, having thought about it, it's mostly likely to be the former. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote it was a space hopper. Stupid, stupid Lewis, go to your room!

It's a fridge! Woooooh!

Ahoy there! We were delighted to find an entire boat amid the flotsam and jetsam, and we eagerly clambered in for a photo opportunity. Then we quickly clambered out again when we realised it was full of broken glass and syringes.

Here's the wildlife protection area sign - you can just about see a picture of two sand flies mating in the top left corner. Lovely. I have a question though: are they sure they're SAND flies, and not just the usual kind of flies you find round a rubbish tip?

The Fearsome Five trudge back down the beach, looking like a band of ecological freedom fighters on a mission. Anyone remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers? Rubbish wasn't it? Captain Planet had an AWESOME mullet though.

Still, at least the sunset was pretty. As I was taking this photo I accidentally trod on a sand fly. No, only joking, it was a used condom.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Slices of Life

Hello all, just thought I'd post up a few random photos of bits of Engrish and so forth. Sorry I haven't been posting much recently - I've been bogged down with editing JETfuel . It's our last issue, and we're trying to go out with a bang by making it 100 pages... which basically means I've been staring at a computer screen for 12 hours a day, in between sending begging emails for articles. Still, it's looking pretty good so far.
I've got some cracking pics from our camping trip to Ishikawa - I really want to post them, but I just don't have the time to sit down and write anything about them right now, so they'll have to wait for next week! Until then, sayonara.
Yours eyestrainedly, Lewis.

"Fuck'n Roll ROCK" - spotted on a T-shirt in my local supermarket. George At Asda eat your heart out.

I vaguely remember that this Engrish was on a bottle of vodka... Actually, the fact that I have difficulty recalling where I saw it is probably a good indicator that it definitely was on a bottle of vodka.

I've finally found Shaun of the Dead (Japan title: "Shoun obu ze Dedo") on DVD in Japan! Hurrah! I've really wanted to see this again ever since I've been in Japan. Best rom/com/zom flick ever.

I love this poster. The translation reads: "DANGER! Your electric guitar playing teenage son may be so awesome at throwing down wailing solos that he could spontaneously catch fire. Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times." Well, maybe that's what it says.

'Cos if you f**k with the fist... YOU GET THE KNUCKLE!!! (Fukui in-joke)

Monday, May 08, 2006

DD and Tim arrive at my house. Notice Tim getting in an early peace sign.


I had some visitors! Hello to DD and Tim, who visited me from Russia and England respectively last week - textbook visiting guys, good job. I showed them the best that Fukui has to offer, which can be summed up in two words: TOAST and COAST. Possibly the highlight of the whole trip was a visit to Tom's Toast Restaurant - Where Dreams Are Made(TM). (Truly, that man is a toast wizard - check the November 2004 archives to see what I'm on about.) Mmmmm, how I love toast. And coast of course, to a lesser extent.
The guys quickly picked up the Japanese habit of making peace signs every time a camera was in the vicinity, and Tim made a heroic effort at blending in by wearing a yukata (a summer kimono). Although the effect was somewhat spoilt by the trainers he was wearing at the time. Still, 8 out of 10 for effort.
See below for a photo diary of their visit. Thanks for coming guys!
NEXT: Madness in Ishikawa.



THEY MET TOM THE TOAST WIZARD!!! God bless you Tom (not his real name).


THEY CAUGHT CRABS!!! (As in the crustacean, not the disease. I hope.)



THEY ATE SUSHI!!! Truly, they have sampled the very best entertainment that Japan has to offer.