Since coming to England, the clouds have come over, the weather has started to get a little colder, and more clothing has started to appear. One thing I noticed was that I’ve seen many people walking around wearing jackets and other articles of clothing emblazoned with the logo SUPER DRY JPN, followed by the characters 極度乾燥.
The sheer number of them I have seen since arriving, coupled with the fact that I never saw a single one in Japan, got my interest. A very short investigation led me to the result that it is a UK brand, which has just gone ahead and used Japanese characters and the image of Japan for no real reason other than it just kind of felt like it.
Which was all a bit of a let-down, until I heard that some Japanese people were not happy with this. Not so much the fact that their country’s name had been used to sell an unrelated product, but because their language was being misused. 極度 may mean “extreme”, and 乾燥 may mean “dry”, but that’s not to say the two go hand in hand like that. To top it off, the phrase is often followed by しないさい. My Japanese coworker told me that some journalist got unhappy with it and tried to lodge a complaint, which was promptly shot down, probably in no small part due to the fact that when you hear “Japanese” and “butchering a language on clothing”, this is not normally the way around you envision it.
A quick search brought up this blog, where the incredulous author has been quietly bemused by the variety of phrases popping up on these shirts and marvelling at why people could wear them. A fun read if you can understand him, or else maybe you can just try to spot your own garments.
I think it’s kind of funny to see this finally happening the other way around, after decades of people being amazed at what appears on shirts over in the jolly East. Now, just as the people over here go around buying and proudly displaying shirts and jackets with nonsensical Japanese gibberish while having no clue what they say, they will have some idea of why people do the same thing over there.
Those ones are still funnier, though.