Return of Japanglish fashion

Japanglish shirts in 2022.

You know, it’s been a while since I found something that sparked so much joy.

Hello! Long time no see. Things have been relatively quiet in my neck of the woods, and it’s been more than a bit of a struggle to decide what to write about. This is not a new problem, in fact, I’ve been facing this since 2020 when the pandemic hit. Should I focus on my own feelings on the situation? Should I discuss the politics going on? How things developed (or didn’t) at work, at home, in day-to-day life? Or do I pretend all is well and discuss things that feel inane to me, all in the hopes of keeping this blog afloat?

So, naturally, I wrote nothing.

I have been working on other projects, mind you, just not here. But it feels nice to be back here. Even if, in the end, I opted for the easy answer of choosing a minor, inconsequential part of life that gives me a small reason to smile. More on that in a second.

How have you all been? I hope you’re doing okay in your neck of the woods. It’s still hot here, despite being mid-September, and I’m impatient for the day where I can wear long sleeves without melting. Sweaters and down coats are already available for sale in the stores, and I can’t imagine purchasing any of them for at least another two or three months… but by then, we’ll be in winter, and the stores will likely have spring goods out instead.

Speaking of store goods (do you see the segue I did there? Pretty smooth, right?), take a gander at the main picture in this blog post.

Japanglish is not a new fashion choice in Japan. Not a day goes by where I haven’t seen at least one person wearing a T-shirt or a baseball cap with English on it. A lot of it tends to mimic what you’d expect on a university shirt or sweater back home, down to the lettering. I sometimes ask people if they studied abroad at a given place, and I have yet to get an answer in the affirmative.

But recently, this fashion trend seems to be coming back in full swing. I’ll see hoards of kids running around with shirts that read, “PANCAKES,” (excellent choice) or “Summer in NEW YORK” (eh, could be worse) or even “Dance moonlight! Until the dawn, let’s fun” (what?). Adult clothing tends to have whole paragraphs. Some make sense, and some clearly got run through a translation machine ten or twenty times before being printed on the clothing in question.

When I first encountered this trend in full swing in the early 2010s, I was perplexed by it, but not put off. I bought one or two shirts with Japanglish on them, but didn’t think much else of them.

Over time, they faded from fashion, until I barely took note of it.

It’s now absolutely everywhere again. And while there are certainly some shirts that say odd things on them, a lot of the English makes grammatical sense, even if it’s not necessarily something I would want on my own clothes. Or my pencil cases. Or bags. Or anywhere.

And I am delighted.

Small joys are important to take pleasure in. Your favorite cup of tea. A cute animal you saw on the street. Running into a friend unexpectedly. Drifting off on a train in the afternoon sun.

I bought a bunch of these shirts and take joy in wearing them, wondering what locals think of a white person wearing them (if they even care at all).

What have you found joy in recently? I’d love to hear about it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep thinking about what I want this blog to be. I’ll let you know when I come up with a real decision.

Take care.

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