Tokyo Damage Report

shibuya 109 english textbook

 Saw this baffling item in a 7-11 and had to buy it:

109 is the main shopping mall for GALS – who I have posted about  HERE, HERE, and HERE.

When one thinks of gals, one thinks a lot of things, but "education" and "textbook" are not among those things. So WTF?

Is this supposed to be  A)

an English textbook aimed at gals? Like, "Let’s make learning hip! Education can be as fun  and potentially important as a leopard-print thong!  Even Paris Hilton speaks English when she doesn’t have a cock in her mouth!"

Or is it B)

a guide for foreign tourists? And that’s why it’s on sale at a 7-11 for 5 days a year? Because that’s when the tourists come, and that’s where the tourists go? 7-11?

Or is it C)

a terrible prank ? Something designed to get Japanese gals to speak English at the level of, say a Valley Girl? "I, like, y’know, studied English? From, y’know, a magazine? I learned all these totally tubular new words, and now, like, I can sound just as smart in English as , y’know I do in my, like, native language, to the max! Barf out!"

My best guess is,  this misguided tome is a case of "too many cooks spoil the soup!"  I figure some publishing executive wanted to do option A, but to get the support of the committee, whose members wanted to do B instead, and some other people wanted C, D, and a bit of E just in case. . . . in order to obtain consensus and harmony, they had to agree to do all those things poorly.


But maybe not? Judge for yourself:


 This was right at the front of the book – a "history of 109 and the gal movement".  All the yamanbas, gonguro, and "buriteri"-looking girls that made gals infamous around the world – they have been erased.  And it was THEM that piqued our curiosity in the first place.


But the real punchline is this:  the "gal english" in this throwaway, poorly-concieved, superficial document is easily as good as, if not better than, the "business english" in very sober, educational-looking textbooks available in respectable bookstores.


There were only two really serious english problems.

See if you can find one below.


OK, fairly boring but. .  . what’s that?


OOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH NO YOU DI’INT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



A few pages later:

yeah, it’s underpants. Get over it.

The point is, above, ”Meido (=nanny)". Funny and clever!

Nevermind what is so clever about underpants.

Check out that word: "MEIDO". Let me explain to you the heartbreaking genius of this.


1) start with the English word "maid."

2) normally, Japanese translate this foreign word  into katakana like this: メイド.

3)  but since this is an English guidebook, they wanted to translate it back to English.  Logical! English word, in English! Sure! Roger that! OK, here we go: メ ME + イ I + ド DO = MEIDO. There! Back into English for you guys.

4) some dim part of their subconscious must have sussed that  MEIDO was deficient in some way, so – rather than change it back to "maid," they added a SECOND English word to explain the FIRST one that they warped beyond recognition: "nanny."

5) and "nanny" is totally incorrect.


FUCK!  I would of loved to have been at THAT meeting.


But mostly the book is full of better English than textbooks. As the page below shows:

 All the rules! Regulations! And pay special attention to #6: put a white face cover over your head when trying on clothes. I have seen one of these – it is basically a kleenex version of a KKK hood. So maybe that "cute white power" thing was NOT a mistake. . .


And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t "hip" you to the "gnarly" places that "kids" can "go" to in 109:





 Not to overdo the gag, but their website is worthwhile. They have a flash animation that says "titty staff wanted."

8 comments Tags:

8 Comments so far

  1. David November 13th, 2009 9:10 pm

    Ya know, I read that “white power” thing and thought, go girls use the color white to make it look more feminine. What a good fashion tip.

    The other meaning didn’t even come into my head.

    Perhaps been in Japan too long, and I’m not too sure if that’s a good thing?

  2. Brian November 14th, 2009 1:52 am

    Dude, I have a private student who would love this. Right now we have been looking at an H&M magazine for like 2 months, but it’s hella boring (for me). I’m gonna get this! Also last week she had a can of lye, and she was like, “I wanna make my own soap!”

  3. Sarah November 14th, 2009 2:01 am

    That is… magnificent.

  4. riley November 14th, 2009 1:57 pm

    What the fuck is that color chart supposed to tell you!?

  5. JapanSoc November 15th, 2009 5:15 am

    Shinyua 109 English text…

    This guy has one of the coolest, most underated blogs about Japan. So much better than 99% of the popular blogs about Japan that bore me to death with ” Musings” and other dull crap only dullards care about….

  6. 23 Wolves November 15th, 2009 9:16 pm

    Rodeo Crowns…very, very funny. They keep them in barrels…for the winners.

  7. Steve November 15th, 2009 10:06 pm

    You missed the biggest gaffe of all: “Everyone likes an American Tomboy!” Everyone knows there are no American tomboys past the age of 15.

  8. fzgig November 16th, 2009 11:12 am

    Hey, at least the grammar is half decent, as opposed to… you know, actual japanese phrase books.

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