Been in Japan long enough to be able to read quite a bit now. But English still has a more direct line into my brain. I see the meaning without having to process the words. With Japanese, I have to concentrate, go from top level words to lower level meaning.
So if I see a sign in both languages I’ll choose the English because it’s easier, right? Not so much. At least not with this sign I saw in Tokyo station, on a temporary wall partition surrounding some construction.
By the wall”
Like a crazy haiku without enough syllables. I mean, it’s about as indecipherable as a David Lynch movie. I wrack my brain for a minute, thinking maybe there’s paint on the wall? “Don’t touch, we just applied a fresh coat?” Then, I just read the Japanese. More on that in a sec.
But, what the hell? In the 90’s, when I first arrived, this kind of thing was everywhere. T-shirts, signs, magazines, everywhere. It was fun. Like viewing a surrealist art installation.
But that was nearly 30 years ago now. Now, you’d think, um, google translate? And this is what you get when you simply enter the above Japanese phrase into said free translating software, “It’s dangerous, so don’t lean.” You know, don’t lean on the temporary wall partition cause you might knock it down. Just the kind of thing that you’d want to, you know, read so you don’t hurt yourself.
Still, it was fun to relive my early days.