Monday, September 24, 2007

What's in a name?

Now, you may have gathered, provided you've been reading my previous posts, that the japanese like to use english in all sorts of ways, many of which appear quite odd to those who actually understand it. This is not to say americans don't do things like this as well, we do, just not nearly to the same extent. I brought up tattoos before and I will bring them up again now just to point out that while the Japanese misuse english to an extent that is staggering, and sometimes oddly poetic, I have yet to see a Japanese person with a tattoo in any language but their own-which means none of them are walking around thinking their permamant skin-art says "peace" when it actually says "gyoza." Okay, that said, they do however name their bars things that would not fly outside of San Fransisco.
Let's say you are opening a bar/cafe and you wish to attract a young surfer/stoner clientele. You've got a good location, hip employees, an above average selection of drinks; all you need is a name. Maybe something to do with surfing or the ocean? Nope, too obvious. How about a reference to some recent cultural movement or even something more retro, maybe swipe a few words from some literary or cinematic classic? What about just something about booze? No, no, and no. If you are the entrepreneurs in Kikugawa you go with, The Pony's Toy. I can't explain exactly why this sounds like the epitome of gay bar names to me but it is definately up there. Kind of like the equivalent of the Wildrose in Seattle, but not exclusively for women. The Pony's Toy, however, pales in comparison to the outright brazenness or random-chance-iness of those who named nearby Fujieda's, The Skin Flute. Seriously. Seriously! All in all though, a pretty nice bar...full of women. Somehow I didn't think to ask about the name while I was there but I did take a photograph of the sign for the incredulous.

2 comments:

bea said...

Oh, c'mon, Matthew... You've never heard of a skin flute...? you, a proficient musician? It's like an accordion, you just give it a bit of a yank and twist and off you go. My school district taught it in music class, right after we learned the recorder.

I think the other bar's owners really missed their chance by inserting "toy" where "Tony," ought to have been. "The Pony's Tony," so much better, right? Even more thought provoking too about how this Pony acquired his Tony...

Matt said...

A yank and a twist eh?