Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bad English or Zen?

"It is closed if it is opened."

This is on the front door of my friend's apartment building in Sapporo.  At first, I laughed at the terrible Engrish and the humor from this sign really put me in a good mood.   But then, I realized that every time I saw this sign I wondered about the idea that something is closed if it is opened.  Is it possible for something to appear closed, but really be open, or to seem open when in fact it is closed? Could it be a Zen meditation?  Is this something that one should contemplate? What does the "it" refer to? Could it possibly refer to more than just the door and the landlord's desire to keep the cold winter air out of his building?  And why would the sign be in English when there are just two native English speakers out of dozens of tenets? 

The more I see this sign, the more I want it to have been written this way on purpose.  But of course, what one wants and what is reality often differ, and chances are good that this is indeed, disappointingly, just bad English. 


  1. Hi Kim,

    I already posted this comment yesterday in a archive of 2011...I think there will be more possibilities you to read my comment if I post it here.

    My name is Jose and I come from Spain. Just arrived today at Kitami for a business trip and leaving next saturday. The pistures above seem great. Do you know if there is any special event during this week in Kitami? I would like to see as much as possible after long as the temperature allows that..

    Thank you and take care !!

    PD: I tried to email you but I could't find your email in this blog. I am sorry in case this comment is published in a not proper place.

  2. Unfortunately I got your message too late, sorry! I hope you have a safe trip back since I realize that you must be leaving today. I don't believe anything special happened in Kitami this past week so please realize that you didn't miss anything.

    Thank you for reading my blog, and take care!

  3. No problem, yesterday in Tokio and now in Utsunomiya during 3 more weeks.
    Many people recommended me to taste crabs that they call "kani" (or something like this). I tried to find some restaurant providing but I falied in all I looked through.
    It is been some interesting days anyway, thank you also for replying.
    Maybe next year I am coming again and I promise to read all your blog from the beggining to end to understand better the life here.

    Thank you again and take care.