Sunday, May 22, 2005

Old Navy's Temple of Strength Tee


I spotted this t-shirt at a local Old Navy store. I don't know if "Temple of Strength" really exists in Yangshuo. I also do not understand the significance of using the character on the shirt.

Update: Random Chinese Characters Used As Marketing Tool

Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 08:36:03 -0400
From: " Service"
To: "Tian"
Subject: Re: ON-Stores - About Our Products; response-yes (KMM23799250V38116L0KM)

Dear Tian,

Thank you for your message regarding the Old Navy Yangshuo Temple of Strength tee, #299500. We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us regarding the design of this tee. Please know that there is no special significance to the characters on our tees. We appreciate your feedback, and we have forwarded your comments to our merchandising and design teams.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us via e-mail at or by calling 1-800-OLD-NAVY. Our Customer Service Consultants are available 24 hours a day for your convenience.


Customer Service Consultant


  1. Maybe it's 萬人力 only without the dinky-looking 人力.

  2. For those of you who know Japanese but not Chinese, 萬 is 万 in Chinese.

  3. or for the millions of chinese who don't use simplified characters, it's still 萬.

    i wonder why they used yangshuo as the town in which this temple resides. why not one of the various southern cities that has laid claim to shaolin?

  4. Doesn't 萬 also serve as the the complex version of the "swaskita" character, which is a symbol of Buddhism?

  5. Oh, and Yangshuo is a city in Guangxi province, up the Li River from Guilin and famous for its limestone karst scenery.

  6. I went to Yangshuo and don't remember seeing any Temple of Strength! But they probably used it because it's a very popular tourist destination, and because it's so small, makes the tourists think "wahey, no-one's ever come here before! How cool am I?!" When of course that's not the case at all! But if anyone's backpacked in China then they're likely to have visited Yangshuo and therefore see the t-shirt and think "ooh, I have to have that".

    Also, it's not Southern cities which lay claim to Shaolin; it originated in Henan Province which is in central China, closer to the north-east than the south. I went there too. Just wanted to add that!!

  7. the main shaolin temple of songshan is not disputed, but after it was destroyed by the qing government during their reign, many of its disciples went down south and created other shaolin temples. thus, many southern cities now claim that a southern shaolin temple was in or near their city. the southern style of shaolin is where the southern heroes fong saiyuk and hung sikuan come from.

    i too have been to the tourist location known as shaolin temple on songshan, and it's very nicely renovated.

  8. Is the character in fact 萬? It looks more like the 萬両 you find on those 招财猫 that have the artistic "黄金萬両" written on them.

  9. maybe they wanted 万岁 but they ran out of room on the shirt?

  10. maybe they just wanted to use the number 10000 or "innumerable."

    Who knows, at least it doesn't say "I am a stupid American who can't read Japanese."