Faux-foreign names

This article from Atlas Obscura is about product and shop names that sound foreign but aren’t:

Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Is From the Bronx — So What’s With the Name?

Examples from the article:

Häagen-Dazs ice cream sounds Scandinavian but the company was founded in New York and the name doesn’t mean anything in any language.  Au Bon Pain is a famous cafe chain that originated in Boston, even if it sounds French. And Comme des Garçons is Japanese.

What are some product or shop names in Japan that sound foreign to you? Which do you think actually originated in another country, and which are home-made?

I think of Mos Burger and Lotteria, for example, which both originated in Tokyo in the 1970s.

And Montbell and Uniqlo are both Japanese.

And who can forget Calpis, Yakult, and Pocari Sweat.


Games and sports

What’s a game? What’s a sport?

How would you explain the differences?

“What makes a sport a sport?”

This short piece from 1843 gives us a little background about the word “sport” as opposed to “game”. It explains that bridge (a card game) has been declared a sport, not just a game, by the European Council of Justice.

It made me think of a scene in a movie called “What Women Want” (Japanese title: ハート・オブ・ウーマン). The main characters work for an advertising agency and they’re making a commercial for Nike. Here’s the clip:

Here’s another clip that shows a bit more background. The premise of this rather silly movie is that the man (played by Mel Gibson) can read women’s minds. IMDb calls it a “romantic fantasy comedy” and it plays with the idea of stereotypical “macho” men and the women who have to deal with blatant gender inequality at work.

Vlogging Japan

This is a short advertisement/visual travelogue/vlog (video log) for the “Diamond Route” in northern Japan: Ibaraki, Tochigi and Fukushima prefectures. What do you think? Especially those of you who are from that area. Does it represent your home prefecture accurately?

It’s very much of a mini-movie, isn’t it? Definitely influenced by Hollywood-style “samurai movies”. It was a bit dizzying, too.

Here’s another in the series:

I like this one better because of all the food. 🍜

See more here.

Creative project: What kind of tourist ad or vlog would you make for your hometown? Your university? Tokyo or Kyoto or another city? Japan in general?

Humans vs. AI

A Japanese insurance company replacing workers with AI was in the news a week or so ago:

“Japanese insurance firm replaces 34 staff with AI” (from BBC)

And then there’s the hotel in Kyushu (within the Huis Ten Bosch theme park) where 90% of the workers are robots:

These stories reminded me of one man’s quest to fight automated advertisement e-mails. I don’t recommend dealing with your frustrations the same way, but he sure is funny: