The use of English in Japan can be interesting. Take a guess at what this company’s business is?

2014 01 25 Tokyo-70

The definition of weathercock:

A wind vane (or weathercock) is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building.

I only figured it out by looking in the window (smile) and noticing the colors that are inside of the lamp by the door.



I had a session with my language instructor the other day where I learned a few interesting insights into the language and culture that go well beyond speaking the language (I am awful at it as I travel in and out of Japan too often).

If you wonder about the Japanese accent when they speak English it is not because of their ability to say a word, it is because of how the Japanese approach language. In their culture, there are a fixed number of language sounds (a little over 100). If you learn those sounds, you can speak any word in Japanese, which technically makes the language simpler to learn. This is very different than English which has an infinite and always changing range of sounds. These are the only “sounds” in Japanese:


Therefore the Japanese take new words and attempt to fit them into the above patterns. For example: Australia fit into Japanese sounds becomes “Osutoraria” as those are sounds that match up to the above. The interesting thing about this is that when Japanese are speaking English (they learn it in Junior high), it also accentuates or exaggerates their accent as they attempt to “fit” the new word into their known language sounds.

It also explains why you will hear English words littered through a conversation as there is simply no way to fit the Japanese language sounds into certain words, so they remain English.

Forget about trying to read the language, it is a combination of 3 languages (Hiragana, Katakana and Chinese) which takes children 10+ years to learn and has 10’s of thousands of characters. Not going to happen for this westerner.



I hear that when you get out of Tokyo the English disappears. But I have noticed that all of the cars in Japan have an English name and no Japanese characters to be found. Find that odd. This taxi is a Toyota “comfort” .. apt name for a taxi. You will also note the bumper sticker (English) and the sticker in the window on the right side says “Thank-you Japan” (English). Odd.