When Chelsea and I were in Tokyo, we had too much fun laughing at all of the ridiculous English phrases that Japanese people sport on their clothing, backpacks, pencil pounches…. everywhere! The phrases almost never make sense, but the language itself seems to be a novelty here. It’s “cool” to have something written in English, even if you obviously have no idea what it says. “Eyerashes” (Instead of eyelashes), “Me Boss You Not,” and “The Whispered My Heart” are all phrases we’ve found.
But then I was humbled in Kyoto. Shortly after arriving to the city yesterday, Chelsea and I made some new friends from Taiwan in our hostel dorm room. The four of us went out exploring around the Gion District last night, and our first stop was the Yasaka shrine, which was beautiful. I especially loved the way the paper lanterns glowed in the darkness of the evening, and so I was snapping photos a million a minute, when Chelsea explained to me what the Kanji written on the lanterns actually said – they weren’t traditional sayings or religious phrases…. They were just random ads! I was practically photographing the ad section of a newspaper.
I laughed at how silly I must have looked to the Japanese people who knew what the lanterns said, and then laughed even more at the irony – Here I was laughing at people in Tokyo wearing T-shirts with random English words, when I was basically doing the same thing, amazed by their paper lantern ads.
I love celebrating diversity around the world, but I think that sometimes we forget that despite all of our differences, we are all pretty similar as well.
*Side note: I can't read Japanese at all, so I don't know if these specific lanterns shown in the photos here are ads or not!
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.