Castro's Kanji

As I said, I have another Castro tale to tell.

A few years ago I bought a gray-and-red sweater/cardigan, which has decorative elements looking – to my uninitiated eye -- like Chinese or Japanese, both on the front and on the back:

Wore if for a few winters. Got tired of it. Offered it to Daughter 2 who is living and studying is Freezing Canada.

The young lady looked at it critically and said, "Can't wear it, I'm not sure what it says, and where I live there's a large Asian community."

Sounded fair enough. You don't want to walk around your [Canadian] university campus with a sweater saying Chinese Go Home or something like that.

In any case, she promised to find out exactly what it says – if anything; it could always be gibberish, the product of an imaginative graphic artist's mind.

Well, not quite.

Seems that the symbols are perfectly good Kanji.

The symbols on the front of the sweater mean "day", "new" and "road";

the symbol on the back is "ei", which stands for… "English".

Looks like Castro's graphic designers didn't give much thought to the message; or perhaps this item was never intended to be exported to countries with Chinese/Japanese speaking populations. Who knows.

Oh, and said daughter won't wear my sweatshirt that says CASTRO on it in big letters across the front, either; she says that, in Canada, the first association that pops into one's head is not the Israeli fashion chain…


Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if the folks at Castro were thinking that their products will or won't see actual Asians, it's the principle of the thing: This time, they got lucky; the words they chose are innocuous. Next time maybe they won't be lucky and choose pictograms that mean "Asians Go Home".

The point is that the whole idea of emblazoning random and or misspelled words in a language you don't f---king know on your product is both tacky and a bad idea.

Joseph said...

Hi Nina, found this blog through a friend. This post in particular caught my eye, for aesthetic reasons. :P
As imitation asian shirts go, it's not too bad -- the characters don't string together coherently, but the characters are relatively simple. If you'd like to see some wonderful examples of Chinese character blunders, my constant source of amusement is from

Nina Rimon Davis said...

Many thanks, Joseph! For your comment and the link. I added your blog to my list.

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