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My Most Embarrassing Japanese Mistake

So ready for a laugh at my expense? Here ya go.

Back when I was first starting to learn Japanese, I was trying to find all of the Japanese stuff I could. I found a World Market at the local mall, and they had a litle stuffed toy – it was a hamster holding a waffle. The cutest, most kawaii thing ever.

I knew enough Japanese to read some of the stuff on the tag, but not quite enough to really read it. Of course, that didn’t stop me.

On the tag, in prominent Japanese letters, was the word ちゅうい. I could read that, thought it said “chewy”, and assumed that was the name of the little toy. I told everyone I could find that the toy was named Chewy. I even added it to a couple of stories I wrote, naming it Chewy.

“chuui” means “Caution” in Japanese. 注意。I learned this very recently. I’ve gone years telling people that I had a toy named “chewy”, when I misread the label.

I am a moron.

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So have you figured out the real name of that little stuff?


Hey this is nothing. When I first moved to Japan I would soak up everything, in the name of Japanese comprehension! And, I mean everything. In fact, I would go to the local Don Quixote and study underwear labels! It was a great, Japanese old time.

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