Sheet of consciousness

So dig this:

Especially poignant is the fact that the product to the left used the correct spelling.

On the other hand, "sheet" and "seat" are homonyms as loanwords in Japanese, and this is a big thing to sit on, so why not "Jumbo Seat"? Believe me, the designer of this label is far from the only person in Japan to believe that those big blue tarpaulins everyone drags out for flower-viewing are "seats". Maybe you're the one who's got it wrong, man.

Speaking of photographs, pholks in or near L.A. should consider checking out the for-real version of Meeting Modernity. I can confirm that, contra "Eggbert"'s criticism at the end of that link, the appeal of this show is not exoticism but rather normalcy, beautifully captured. Also, how are you going to learn the ancient origins of the Japanese word for photograph if not by reading my essay there?

Popularity factor: 9

Paul D.:

I learnt long ago (ok, 3 years ago) when I first came to Japan that when you see Roman letters in nearly any capacity, it is purely decoration. It might be correct. It might be slightly off, embarrassingly off, or outright unintentionally offensive. Think the product designers care whether the logo has the correct word on it or not? I see too much nonsense every day to have much hope of that.

I see plenty of bad French too, but the odd time a Japanese designer uses Italian or Spanish, he seems more likely to get it right.


Is there a catalog for that exhibition, that might be obtainable abroad, by post perhaps?

Speaking of language and misunderstandings, I've noticed that you haven't said anything about Yang Yi yet--I've been waiting. At the very least, I'd think that deconstructing 2ch and amazon.co.jp reviews would be amusing. (What is "pure literature" anyway?)


I must disagree, Paul; labels don't say things like "Afdnsjfds fdjsfds" or even "Purple spotwager" -- they're always aiming at something. It's true that they don't care when they get it wrong, and they have no reason to either, but their mistakes can still be illuminating.

MMS: I don't think we have a catalog in the works right now, though I hear there are postcards available. Probably the closest thing to a catalog is the photos Ian is periodically posting at NJ.

As for Yang Yi, I'm working for something at NJ on this... I didn't find much to argue with in Sgt. Tanuki's assessment, review-wise.


You have (almost) raised a mystery I have long wondered about. Why are these tarps always blue? I could understand if they were green (as this "seat" seems to be, judging from the green edge of the package) as that would match grass (like there is ever grass to put the tarp over). But why blue?


Any chance of your essay from "there" turning up "here" - or at least the bit about the ancient origins of "shashin"? That's got me really intrigued (well, not quite as intrigued as I am about the fate of your translation of Takekurabe!).


Charles: That's an excellent question. They're all blue in Australia too. Google doesn't seem to know why.

Patrick: Probably eventually my essay will be online somewhere. Or e-mail me privately and I'm sure we can work something out.

Takekurabe is... yeah. Well, it's a hundred years old. Another year won't make that much difference.


jp wikipedia seems to think they're generally blue because that color blends into the sky, and blue dye is also cheaper than other colors. I don't know whether that can be trusted or not, though.


The cost explanation makes sense to me. Blending into the sky surprises me. Weren't these things originally used for naval applications where you'd want them to stand out and be visible? CITATION NEEDED, JAPANESE WIKIPEDIA. CITATION NEEDED.


Himajin alludes to a related question, I've alwayse wondered why so many roofs in Japan are blue, I've never seen that anywhere else. I would accept this is supposed to blend in with the sky, except that the blue is intense enough that it never blends with the sky, it just looks weird.
But the tarps would almost never be in a position to blend with the sky, they'd either be on the ground, or I often see them used as walls around a construction site. They'd blend in better if they were grey. Grey blends with everything (just look at any Japanese city).

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