Kanji, the symbols that make up the Japanese written language, have always been extremely popular. People use them in art, as decoration in their homes, as tattoos on their bodies, and even in clothing fashion.
1. “Beware of Perverts“
Men touching women in trains is a real problem in Japanese urban life, and there are actually signs in some places warning women to “beware of perverts.” Here’s a great T-shirt that captures this zaniness, featuring a bizarre image of a man toughing a woman on a train and a message of “Beware of Perverts” (Chikan chuui), with “Dangerous Persons are in this Area” printed below. A truly bizarre message and image that will cause confusion and funny reactions among Japanese who see it.
2. “Baka Gaijin” (Stupid Foreigner)
Two words a foreigner living in Japan learns pretty quickly are baka (stupid) and gaijin (foreigner). Makes for a bizarre Japanese T-shirt that’s perfect for fans who want to show their devotion to Japanese wacky culture.
3. “Emergency Exit“
If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ve surely noticed the green Emergency Exit signs that adorn every door. Universally recognizable by all Japanese, this unique shirt is sure to get you lots of attention! It’s also something you can wear in front of potential future in-laws without offending them.
A famous slogan of the Meiji Restoration, an exciting time in Japan’s history when Japanese rallied around Emperor Meiji to create a strong, modern nation free of the influence of Western nations. A famous slogan studied by all Japanese is “sonno joi” (sohn-NOH JOH-ee). The silhouette of Admiral Perry’s black ships, which are seen in the background. Very esoteric and funky.
5. “Sake-bito” (I Love Alcohol)
A parody of famous shima-bito (Island-Person) designs from Okinawa, this shirt proudly proclaims you as a sake-bito, literally a “person of sake” or someone who loves to drink all forms of alcohol. (Sake, pronounced sah-KAY, can refer to normal rice wine as well as all other forms of alcohol).
6. “Caution: Karoshi” (Death from Overwork)
Caution: Karoshi. Japanese are very industrious and hardworking — in fact they can work so hard that there’s a word for “death from overwork” (karoshi). Here’s a wacky Japanese T-shirt that warns you not to work too hard, to take time to smell the roses as you travel down the road of life. The message on the shirt says “Karoshi: be careful not to work too hard.”
7. “No Normal Humans” ~ Haruhi Parody
The character Haruhi from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has become one of the most popular ever. A girl who is bored with school and who has no interest in ordinary humans, she seeks to meet aliens, time travelers, sliders or espers, and yet these people are going to school right alongside her without her noticing. If you love Haruhi, here’s a great T-shirt design for you that says “Not Interested in Normal Humans,” inviting all those who are a little “different” to join their club.
8. “Ecchi” (Ecko Parody)
In Japanese, the letter “H” (pronounced “ecchi”) is a euphemism for anything sexual, and someone who is “ecchi!” thinks about sex a little too much. Here’s a great T-shirt design which parodies the famous Ecko Unlimited rhinoceroses with a fun perverted new version.
9. “Dirty American Devil“
During World War II, the universal word for the Allied soldiers was “kichiku beihei” which translates literally as “barbarian American soldiers” or better as “dirty American devils” (thus it corresponds to the word “Jap”). Although the “bei” (rice) character refers to America, the word applied to all Allied soldiers, including the British, Australians and Canadians.
For whatever reason, Japanese men think nothing of stopping to urinate outdoors wherever they might be, along the side of the road or into a rice field, even while passing a beautiful Buddhist Temple. Here’s a cool shirt that says “It is forbidden to urinate here,” that’s modeled after real signs you can see in Japan.
11. “Otaku” (Oakley parody)
The word “otaku” has come to describe anyone who loves manga, anime and Japanese popular culture, although anyone with passion can become an “otaku” about something they love. This T-shirt parodies the famous Oakley logo by changing it into a message that fans can appreciate.
12. “Rated H“
In Japanese, the letter H (ecchi) is used to represent anything sexual. People who are “H” have perverted minds and think about sex all the time. Here’s a wacky Japanese “rated H” T-shirt for anyone who likes sex just a little too much. The Japanese message says “This person is extremely perverted, so please be sure to exercise caution around them.”
Ancient samurai were famous for committing ritual suicide by disemboweling themselves with their swords, which was called seppuku or harakiri (two ways to read the same kanji characters). This T-shirt features a wacky message in this tradition, with a Japanese warrior pointing to your midsection and the message, “In case of emergency, cut here.”
14. “Ecchi” (I’m Perverted)
The shirt says “Ecchi” (literally, the letter “H,” which is used in Japan as a euphenism for someone who is perverted or who thinks about sex too much) — you never know what will happen with this shirt on!
15. “Noodle Eater” (Cup Noodle Parody)
Are you a “face eater”? That’s what the word men-kui (men-koo-EE) literally means, and it refers to men who are attracted to extremely beautiful women, especially women with incredibly beautiful faces (men in Japanese). Since the word for “noodles” is also men, it sounds like you’re saying “noodle eater,” hence the joke.
16. “Beware of Panty Thieves“
Throughout history there have been men who have been obsessed with women’s panties, and the Japanese are no different. Here’s a wacky T-shirt featuring a man using a fishing pole to catch a pair of women’s underwear, with “Beware of panty thief” written in kanji below it.
17. “Sukebe” (Pervert)
Sukebe (pronounced “su-KEH-beh”), a word which means someone who thinks about sex just a little too much. Similar to ecchi, a sukebe will never fail to mentally undress a pretty girl while he talks to her.
18. “Beware of Men Peeking”
Japanese men are human, just like everyone else, and sometimes they have trouble controlling their inner urges. Here’s a T-shirt that warns people who see it to beware of “nozoki” — peeping toms, who like to watch women secretly, in the bathroom and elsewhere. The text reads “Beware of Men Peeping” in clear, direct Japanese. Because the word “nozoki” is written with the hiragana writing system, it’s someething that only Japanese can read or understand.
19. “I Like Mixed Bathing“
Many gaijin come to Japan and fall in love with onsen (OWN-sen), the famous natural hot springs that have been enjoyed by Japanese for centuries. The best hot springs are, of course, the mixed-bathing variety, called kon’yoku in Japanese, a special bath where men and women can take a bath together. This T-shirt proclaims your affinity for Japan’s mixed-bathing culture, featuring a kanji slogan that reads “I love mixed-bathing hot springs,” with the normal “heart” shape cleverly replaced by the “onsen mark,” a symbol that denotes Japanese hot springs.
Pronounced “zetsurin power” (zeh-tsu-RIN pa-WAH), it implies absolute confidence in one’s sexual abilities — great for those interested in finding Japanese female companionship. A good direct translation of this message would be, “Completely Confident in my Sexual Power.”
Apparently there’s a whole bunch of guys in the world who wouldn’t mind getting attention from Japanese females. This shirt features clear, clean text and a message that is perhaps best translated as “Now accepting applications for Japanese girlfriends.”