An International University Still Has Engrish

Drawing of Professor Toilet

Toilet sensei teaches you the right way to flush

At a university with multinational students and English language education, I might expect that the signs around campus would have quality English, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Most public signs at Asia Pacific University (APU) were in both Japanese and English. I don’t know why they didn’t include languages like Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese, seeing as how there is probably a greater population of those students than English speakers. I suspect it is because English looks cool and impressive to native Japanese.

Everyone loves Engrish; there are entire websites dedicated to posting Engrish examples. Engrish happens when another language is poorly translated into English, sometimes with humorous and illogical results. English is an extremely difficult language to learn. It is full of irregular grammar forms and subtleties that even native speakers have a hell of a time getting right. I should know; I’m taking editorial classes, and all those dangling modifiers and case forms give me a headache. You think you know English, until taking a grammar class. I have great pity and awe for ESL students.

That said, it is little wonder that Engrish happens. However, considering that there are an abundance of English professors and some native English speakers on APU’s campus, it shouldn’t be too hard to get something proofread before printing it on a public sign. Some examples were bathroom and cafeteria postings. The sentences might have been technically correct, but in a wrong tense or just unnaturally phrased. On the tray return, a plastic sign read, “Give attention to a thing left behind. Have you forgotten left card or cash on your tray?” In the bathroom, “The faucet has not been turned off properly. Please check whether water has stopped” (all that last one needs is a ‘may not have’ instead of ‘has not’).

Honestly, it was enjoyable for me to find and read Engrish, which might be why English students don’t bother correcting any of the awkward phrases. They’re cute, and make me smile. The best English is on commercial packaging. Because English looks cool, stores create English mottos using positive sounding words. The nonsensical phrases might not work in America, but they are trendy in Japan. I hope these examples make you smile as much as I did.

Most of these are from You-Me mall, in Beppu:


Our tiny dream touch your heart. “Simple smile”, natural frame of mind. What’s up babie? I’m gonna tell you something goods. Here is the name, “ACT-1”. By the way, do you know it? “ACT-1” means we wish we wanna be First-Action for find your favorites. You must meet something brand-new here. What do you find something today, Friends, Goods, or Lovers? Come up and see me! Be yourself. Be simple mind. Always come here, surely you get comfortable feeling.

That hip English slang definitely gave me a comfortable feeling. I looked, but I couldn’t find a Lover at Act-1. False advertising.

Belparrot x Fiofio:

If you dress up in your favorite way, gloomy will be blown away!

This is my favorite. It’s sweet, adorable and true.


Casual Smile ♫ It is light-hearted that can be put on and ease daily. Clothes put on because it is free.

They didn’t offer free clothes.

(I don’t know the name of this store):

It is for positive girls who never forget a sense of fun. Based on the item which is girlish and edgy, trend-mixed life sized style is for you…

R Can Can:

We make you happy with shoes.


Happy trade. Happy ethnic.

Happy ethnic?



  1. I really enjoyed this post. I applied to be an exchange student in high school but wasn’t able to go. What a wonderful opportunity for you.

    I had a similar experience aboard a cruise ship. The sign in the bathroom read, “Please wash hand”. I wondered which one they wanted me to wash – definitely made me smile every time I read it. cs5711


  2. I agree that English is the most difficult language to learn because of all the different words that have for somethings and the fact that there are a lot of words that sound alike but are spelled different. I would have liked to been an exchange student however learning other languages is not easy for me. Great post!!! #CS5711


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