Saturday, February 14, 2009

from: Nick B.
date: Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 9:56 AM
subject: Tshirt query

Hi Tian,

I've been wearing this shirt for years. Having just discovered your site I'm now a bit worried...

Please tell me it doesn't say something stupid and make me look like more of an idiot than normal.



(ps: keep up the good work! :D)

Alan and I had a good laugh at this shirt and here is what Alan said:

Well, I'll tell you what it says, and you can decide whether it is stupid or not.

From what I can tell, the text on the T-shirt appears to have been cut-and-pasted from the warranty information for an IBM Japan (now Lenovo) computer.

I can tell this because the phone number 0120-20-5550 on the shirt is that for the company's Japanese support center.

Also, just to the right of the neck of the shirt, you will see BMサービ, which was obviously cut from IBMサービス・センター (IBM Service Center).

The Japanese text itself says things like: "In the case that a malfunction should occur, only repair service will be offered." or "We do not accept orders by FAX."

The text is incomplete and overlapping and hard to read, so it is pretty pointless to try to read much more than this, but I think you get the point.

I don't know, but it might have a certain Japanese computer geek allure, although I have no idea if that is up your alley.


  1. I need that shirt. Where can you get one?

  2. It seems strange to me that you would miss this but I actually think the words are less important than the overall artistic affect of the shirt. The dragon at the bottom, the overlapping text, it's atypical placement on the shirt. This is not designed to be the typical "I'm with stupid" tee.

    The shirt seems to me to communicate more "Asian things rawk" rather than any meaning of the words themselves.

  3. That's hilarious! Seems the person who stuck the text on the shirt could've deleted the phone number and the letters "BM" up near the neckline, though.

    It almost makes me want to hit ebay and see if anyone is selling a used one of these shirts.

  4. I think someone should start a web site to ridicule the use of English in Asian culture. Asians are worse than any other group when it comes to translating English. Anyone who has traveled there can attest to the bizarre signs, posters, hotel instructions, etc. that one encounters in Japan, China, Korea, etc. Some are quite comical, and others leave you scratching your head.

    It's also true that ANYTHING American is considered stylish and hip. I've seen shirts with pics of obscure 70s tv actors, strange phrases like "Ya man, that's happening!" and even a pair of pants decorated with the Shell service station logo! Who makes this crap?

  5. Anon @ 1:44 PM,

    There is a site,, which is maintained by my good friend Steve Caires. We known each other and exchange photos often.

  6. Thanks Tian, that's awesome :D

    I got the shirt years ago (2003-ish?) in a UK chain that sells end-of-line clothes called Officer's Club - which went into administration late last year.

    They did a white version with green/black text too, but when I went back the next week they'd all vanished. I've never seen anyone else wearing one, so if you spot one snap it up! :)


  7. I have a shirt like that too. A text has been copied and pasted from the middle, and there are so many words missing that it's impossible to know what the text is all about. I'm often asked what is written there and I always explain this situation.

    Some of you might ask why I'm keeping this shirt....well it was a gift from my dad and it's sorta rude to throw away :)

  8. That's a pretty sweet tee. I own one that has a scan of one page of the math section of the Tokyo Uni entrance exam printed on the back and a clever message about it on the front--交通一次, if I recall correct.

    Of course, I bought it
    (1) at a store in Japan targeted at Japanese not tourists
    (2) after living in Japan a year and speaking the language for many more than that
    (3) while preparing for my math and Japanese degrees at uni.

    My experience leads me to believe: that shirt's kinda cool. It's definitely not raggable.

  9. Yeah, this is kind of silly but at least it's well designed. It reminds me of the gift bags at Daiso that have very similar English text excerpts on them.

  10. I'd get this shirt if I could. I like the design. Yeah, it's silly text--my favorite shirt I got in Japan likewise had silly (English) text on it. Aesthetically it looks pretty good. K

  11. It also says "Web" at the seam with the right sleeve. xD

  12. Now here's an idea! Next time I get tired of a plain ol' shirt, I should just take a random page out of my old Chinese textbooks, photoshop it to look cool, and silkscreen it on. :)

  13. I actually think that's fabulous. It could have just been random character gibberish, or some psuedo-zen bullshit, but instead it's a fucking page from an IBM manual. That's the best, most ridiculous thing it could be. Love it.

  14. I had the same tee in university.
    I think it came out a bit after the first Matrix movie, so that's the sort of effect they were going for: but the geek/comuting references tickled me too, and worked for me.

    I had only the vaguest idea what it was about, but hoped someday to learn: in the meantime, I could tell it was a cut-n-paste from something techy, with at least no blatantly obvious negative connotations, a clearly geeky slant, and many different letter styles in: hiragana, katakana, kanji, romanji upper/lower, and arabic numerals.