Monday, August 22, 2005

The Great Wall of China Sake Bar

Dear Old Navy,

Regarding the Men's "China Sake" tee (style #313917), I would like to point out that although the Great Wall is indeed in China, but sake is a type of JAPANESE rice wine. I would highly doubt any Japanese sake company would use the Great Wall of CHINA to market their products.

Please hire some qualified cultural consultants before pumping out more of these meaningless junk into American market.



tiangotlost at gmail dot com

Update: Apparently everyone at Old Navy has missed the memo about

Asian men + black mask + Ninja Star = Ninjas (practice Ninjutsu, not Karate)

Where is
Lumbergh when I needed him?!


  1. Wow. They don't even need a cultural consultant. Just someone who's not a frickin' idiot.

  2. Dem crazy white people, getting us all mixed up again!

  3. They must be taking lessons from Abercrombie & Fitch.

  4. that's supposed to be the funny part. that it isn't correct.

  5. Abercrombie & Fitch. lol
    Or just hire someone who's lived in an urban centre for more than 5 minutes.

  6. to their credit they didn't use the "chopsticks" font...

  7. Japan used to occupy portions of China with the Great Wall in it, so it's not theoretically impossible.

    I know a Mexican food place called "Fred's" -- not "Fredalberto's" or some predictable thing like that. But guess what? -- people still go to Fred's because the name doesn't really matter.

    Even IF this sake bar was around, who cares what the name is? This is just a dumb hipster shirt anyway.

    Good god man, you need to get that stick out of your butt.

  8. Let me get this straight,

    if is funny to English speakers because it features all the mistakes that non-English speakers make.

    but when I point out mistakes that an American clothing company has made, all of the sudden, I have a stick in my ass?

    I love your logic.

  9. tian

    good post and funny!

    one thing: SAKE is spelled all lowercase letters, like this:


    not Sake with a capital S....

    do you spell beer as Beer?

    do you spell wine as Wine?

    do you spell milk as Milk?

    Get with the program, TIAN, sake is sake, with a small S. wakarimashita?

  10. Actually Anon, when "sake" is used as a specific noun (ie. the Japanese rice wine), the "s" should be capitalized. Otherwise, people would be confused about if "sake" should be understood as "Japanese rice wine" or "consideration or regard for a person or thing".

    Example 1:

    I got drunk on those sake bombers.

    Example 2:

    For Christ's sake, why does everything have to be so complicated?!


    this link will show you how sake is usually spelled lowercase. take a look.

    {but this is a minor point. The real point is you pointed out a good marketing GOOF that needs to be pointed out, and yes, if Engrishy is funny to Westerners, and it is, then mistakes that Westerners make about Asian cultures are also funny and they are. humor is two way street and thanks for pointing this out. yes yes yes

  12. Thanks Anonymous (aka. Danny Bloom), I have learned something new thanks to you. Correction is in order.

  13. Wow. What crap. I'm not shopping there anymore. I only wonder, was that shirt also MADE in China-- It'd add another level of insanity to the whole thing.

    OLD NAVY is trying to be like Urban Outfitters by doing this. So I guess I'll just boycot them like I boyvotted Urban Outfitters for the same crap.

  14. The shirts were made in South Africa.

  15. Oh god, who cares? You're so uptight.

  16. There are many people care about this problem.

    For one, you sir (aka. Mr. Cultural Ignorance) were cared enough to spend time and leave a comment here.

    A complete stranger's blog!

  17. ignorant white bigots. don't disrespect asian culture, or we won't buy your racist bullshit products. plain n' simple, you white devil bigots.

  18. tian said: "if is funny to English speakers because it features all the mistakes that non-English speakers make.

    "but when I point out mistakes that an American clothing company has made, all of the sudden, I have a stick in my ass?"

    No, laughing is fine. This site and Hanzi Smatter is great when you just make fun of the things. On the other hand, when you write retail chains telling them to stop selling dumb t-shirts -- THAT is when you have a stick up your ass.

    Imagine some dumb American douchebag seeing a ridiculously funny shirt on and then writing the Japanese clothing store that sells said shirt complaining that it doesn't make sense and disrespects Western culture and the English language. Come on, Tian! All I'm trying to do is advise you that this is a bleeding waste of time and it doesn't make you look too bright.

  19. I believe people should write to manufacturers complain about their poor quality products.

    I may sound over-sensitive about this, or as you have put it so ever elegantly - “stick in the butt”, but it is a valid complaint.

    Let me give you an example,

    I don’t know if you remember about the Ford Motors and Firestone tires incident back in 2001. At the beginning there were several Ford Explorer SUVs had same type of accidents. They were ruled simply as “automobile accidents”. After more people complained about it, Department of Transportation got involved and revealed that majority of these accidents were caused by poor quality tires that were manufactured by Firestone. Further more, Ford Motors knew about it and never cared nor tried to fix the problem, because the number of accidents was insignificant. What happened after that? Multi-billion lawsuits were filed against Ford and Firestone. Both companies’ stock went down.

    Of course automobile death and idiot t-shirts are nothing alike on the surface. But the common bond between the two is lack of business ethic. Consumers should not worry about if their purchase would somehow harm or humiliate them in the future.

    If mistakes on a t-shirt could be easily dismissed as one person had “a stick in the butt”, then many other companies could use the same logic to justify their wrongdoings.

    Just imaging what would happen if you or your child ate food with broken glass pieces in it, the food manufacturer would just say “chew around the broken glass pieces, you fool”.

    Whether why English speakers do not point out the Engrish mistakes to the manufacturers, I don’t know.

  20. Come on people, do you really think they did that by accident??

  21. "I'm not inscrutable. You're just stupid."

  22. Sake is Japanese all right, a cultural mistake it is certainly, but you know China, produces everything from fancy French & Italian leather bags' fakes to all kinds of electrical appliances. So they can produce sake (the drink) as well. They have rice and all. Remember that though Vodka is a Russian drink, one of the most famous vodka brands is Absolut, a Swedish company.

    I've seen some 1950's Yugoslav Mariachi bands in a web site. In 1950's (probably 60's too-the record covers looks a bit newer than that era) in Yugoslavia, Mexican music was in, and many Jorgevics dressed as Jorges made records of Mexican songs sung in Serbo-Croatian.

    Here's the link:

    Thanx and goodbye


  23. Hey, Tian, don't you realize that CHinese, Japanese,'re all the same to us?
    (ok, please understand I was kidding)
    THis is the type of thing that, not only Old Navy designers, but MANY Euros or Americans would miss out of hand. Why? Not because we're ignorant about Great Wall = China, Sake = Japan, but that this t-shirt, in the overall grand scheme of things, just doesn't matter.
    In simpler terms, who gives a damn?
    THat doesn't mean it isn't funny that you noticed this. When you pointed it out, I laughed.

    Oh, and for the record to anyone who is interested: in this particular case, "sake" is being used as part of a title. In a title, ALL words that are not articles (i.e.: "the", "a", "of") are to have their first letter in upper case unless intentionally shown otherwise.