Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reading Chinese

...or is it Japanese. One of my Hawaiian shirts has characters as part of the pattern. Are these Chinese or Japanese? The tag on the shirt says, "Made in Bangladesh". However, those characters are not Bangladesh writing.

A couple of years ago -- wearing that shirt -- I was standing in line. As we waited, I started a conversation with the guy behind me. Surprise that I would do that. :) As we chatted, he commented that he liked my my shirt. I said that I had always wondered what it said. Without missing a beat he said, "Made in China".

This is detail of the three sets of characters that repeat throughout the shirt.

Didn't know what those characters say. One day without anything better to do, I Googled "common Chinese characters" and "common Japanese characters". The characters looked more Chinese to this uneducated eye. Looking at the Chinese characters and reading the meaning, it appeared that there was some possibility that those characters did say something to the effect, "Made in China".

In case you are wondering, the wrinkles are part of my wardrobe.


  1. Japanese uses the same Chinese character set with additional Japanese-specific "hiragana" characters. If there are no hiragana characters, it's almost certainly Chinese. You can't write anything meaningful in Japanese using only Chinese characters.

    (There's also the katakana character set for borrowed foreign words that mirrors hiragana. Interesting language!)

  2. The first night in our new 2002 Lazy Daze after we picked it up at the factory in Montclair, CA in May '02 was at Lake Havasu Resort. What fun it was!


  3. These are Chinese Characters looking through a mirror. The 4 character group should meant "Chinese Kung FU" or Chinese martial art. But 2 of the characters in that group was reverse too. If you look at the pattern carefully. They were just a rearrangement of 4 Chinese characters. 3-characters groups did not make any meaning. Since they were made in Bangladesh, I believe the designer just happened to pick the characters offhand and put it in a way to look good. It might be the same reason for the mirror image.


  4. From the Blogger stats, I noted that there have been accesses to my site from China. Perhaps I will get lucky one day and I will get a translation. Even if it is mirror image translation. Would be great.

    Another approach might be to wear the shirt to a Chinese restaurant where the menu is in Chinese and obviously catering to a Chinese clientele.

  5. I am a Chinese emigrated to U.S. 30 years ago. I have been following your blog on and off for a few years even before you switched to blogger and I enjoy your insight into everyday common things.
    As I stated in my previous comment. Those characters mean Chinese martial art. But you have to read it upside down and inside out in different sequence to get the meaning. Sound complicated, isn't it?


  6. Tom, I apologize for my quick read of your previous comment and your translation. That resulted in my poorly thought out comment.

    With a name like "Tom", I didn't give a whole lot of credence to the translation. Once again. My apologies.

    And now it is off to a Kung Fu studio where I can wear the shirt.

    Finally. Thanks for dropping by and reading. Better yet a big thanks for the comments.

  7. 中國功夫
    The above shown what it should look.

    Now, can you see which one is upside down, which one is inside out and which one is out of sequence.

    I believe most everybody in a KungFu studio would be scratching their heads just like you, because of the reasons I stated and also they are all American born may be except the master.

    In case you are really interested, the below shown the individual meaning.

    中 means central or middle
    國 means country
    功 means skill
    夫 means labor or effort


  8. Tom.

    It's interesting that your definition of the characters is essentially what I found when I looked for common Chinese characters on the internet. From those definitions, I concluded MADE CENTRAL CHINA from the characters definitions: Effort/labor (MADE) central/middle (MIDDLE) country (CHINA). Skill? Ignored it.

    After reading your translation, I did the usual and searched the internet for "Chinese Kung Fu". Ended up at Wikipedia. Sometimes I learn more than I can remember. That was after the first three paragraphs.

    Thanks for the detailed translation.

  9. Google Translator gives "Chinese Kung Fu"

    Babel Fish gives "Chinese Time"

    I would tend to go with the Kung Fu


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