Lulu's Blog

Just another Golden Bear

Public Signs in Japan

I chose to read the article, “Public Signs as Narrative in Japan”, by Patricia J. Wetzel. This article analyzed in depth, the different elements and figures used in Japanese signs such as honorifics, references, signatures, and person. There are a lot of signs in Japan that make up the landscape and tell a story about the community that lives there. Therefore, when you observe the different signs around, you’re looking at what everyday life is like, and understand how to participate in that community.

There are two genres of signs: informational and advertisement.  Advertisements tend to be third person narratives. Now we’re all familiar with advertisements, so I don’t need to explain what an ad is. Well, Japan has advertisements like those that you may be familiar with. The interesting thing about advertisements is the person/figure used to present the message. I think we are all familiar with Carl’s Jr.’s advertisements that appear on billboards and television. If you look at the left side of Figure 2, the intended audience is clearly obvious – men. What makes it so obvious? The advertisement is written in second-person, so that it appears as if it is speaking to you. However, since it starts off with “she’ll tell you…”, you can infer that the intended audience is of the opposite sex. Also, there are several innuendos that just scream “MEN”, but I won’t get into that. Now if you look at the right side of the figure, the message gets a bit confusing. Am I supposed to imagine myself as the model eating the burger? Is a male supposed to assume that by eating this burger, he will attract models? These are typical questions that come up from reading advertisements, and it’s totally intentional. The “line between the consumer (reader) and the person on the advertisement is intentionally blurred”, meaning it’s not clear whether you’re supposed to imagine yourself as the model, or if you’re supposed to look at the character as an actual person next to you.

The second genre is informational, which is describe prohibitions, warnings, and other rules. These signs typically have animated characters, or stick-like people instead of “real” people. Informational signs are expected to have some familiarity and/or some relationship to the reader, so they are supposed to be generic to the audience. Also, in contrast to advertisements,  informational signs make use of fewer images, and if they do use images, tend to rely on icons or symbols that direct attention to the observer’s location. Informational signs call readers out of their fantasies, directing attention to the message. If you look at Figure 1, you will see the instructions of how to pray at a shrine. The icon used is a little girl, so you can automatically infer that the intended audience is little children.

In conclusion, the distinction between informational signs and advertisements in Japan is very clear. Nonetheless, they both aid in understanding the type of culture and lifestyle in a certain community. This can also be said for all signs, universally.




Public Signs as Narrative in Japan


Patricia J. Wetzel

Portland State University, USA

Version of record first published: 20 Nov 2010.

Figure 1: Instructions on how to pray at the shrine.


Figure 2: Carl’s Jr. Advertisement. Who is the intended audience? What role does the model play?


No Comments »

 One of the groups brought up a picture of a Japanese restaurant called “Miyuki”. The sign had Japanese characters which simply  said “sushi”. I wonder, what does the sign say about the people that go there? If I saw a sign that just said burrito in Spanish, like “El Burrito” or something, it wouldn’t seem like an authentic place; but, it probably would to someone who wasn’t literate in  Spanish.

It also reminded me of a restaurant (the picture shown) that I pass by often. It is located on Shattuck. Can anyone translate the Japanese characters? Does it match to the meaning of “ichiban”? And why put the Japanese characters and the word “ichiban” together if they don’t have the same meaning?


Authentic Chinese?

     I have just recently had a taste of “authentic” Chinese food, so I don’t have much experience. However, I do like Chinese food and take notice of Chinese restaurants that I pass by.

I am most likely to assume that a place (restaurant, market, shop, etc.) is “real”, if I can’t read/understand the name of the place. For example, from looking at the pictures, I will assume “Shen Hua” is more authentic than “Renee’s Place”, and “Lotus house” is somewhere in between the two.

How did I come to this judgment? Well, as an American from Mexican and Guatemalan descent, I can tell legit Hispanic food from the wannabe’s because both my parents are immigrants and I’ve visited both countries. And usually the name of the place has a lot to do with the authenticity of the food or items. Also, décor and music, and personnel, affects my perception of the place. If the décor and music is cultural, and the majority of the personnel are familiar with the area, I am most likely to trust that it will be original.

Chinese Restaurant: Renee’s Place

1 Comment »

My Experience at King Tsin Restaurant

  This was the first “authentic” Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to. I like Chinese food, but I usually bought it from fast food Chinese places, including Panda Express.

      When I first walked in, I was surprised by how modern and untraditional it looked. I was expecting red and gold décor everywhere! So, I was a bit bummed that it wasn’t like the Chinese restaurants you see in Hollywood movies, but it was still a great atmosphere. It was a pleasure getting to meet the very hospitable owner, Albert. I found his family story amazing.

When I looked at the menu, I was unfamiliar with so much. I found myself scavenging for fried rice and chow mein on the menu! I thought the Chinese translation and his family background, was a nice touch to the menu. It made the food seem like legitimate, original Chinese food.

The “green pancakes” were super delicious. I definitely want to come here again and again! Hopefully when my parents come to visit me here at Berkeley, I will get the chance to take them to this amazing restaurant. 🙂

No Comments »

Last Seen Korean Drama: Lie to Me

LIE TO ME. Category: Comedy & Romance

I really like Korean and Japanese dramas! I don’t speak either language, or any Asian language for that matter, but I still enjoy a good drama and don’t mind subtitles.

I’m a fan of the typical, sweet-romance stories. The first Korean drama I ever watched was “Happiness in the Wind”. I never finished watching it because it stopped airing on TV, but I enjoyed it so much I started searching similar dramas. Nowadays I mostly just see the Korean and Japanese dramas that are available on Netflix (because of the convenience). I’ve seen “Boys over Flowers”, “Coffee Prince”, and more (that I can’t remember right now).

If you can think of any similar dramas that you found interesting, let me know! 🙂

No Comments »

Languages in Berkeley

Very different from my hometown (West Los Angeles), where I see just Spanish/English.


Languages in Berkeley

Jewish center for students. Note the language.

1 Comment »

Languages in Berkeley


1 Comment »

Languages in Berkeley

Saw this while shopping for VD cards. This was my first time seeing a Chinese category. I’m so accustomed to seeing just English and Spanish in my hometown.


Skip to toolbar