Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lawson and Family Mart

The second largest Konbini in Japan is  Lawson.  There is a similarity in all convenient stores I see. Each of its name board is always attached with Sake and Tabako signs (neon box in the middle). 
ATM Saabisu (saabisu is written in Katakana), or ATM Service is also commonly available in every Konbini. No reason for running out of money :). 
The blue square with red and yellow stripes is the logo of Hiroshima Ginko/Bank. The first two Kanji is Hiro and Shima, the last two Kanji is Gi-n and Ko
Talking about money, a couple of months ago, Lawson on the Boulevard street was robbed. Rumor has it, it was a foreigner. The robber took about 40.000Yen cash, probably US$ 400.  Not a big money they say, but  it's enough to buy the latest point and shoot camera :).

Took this photo at Family Mart, the third largest convenient stores in Japan, this afternoon after rain had stopped :). This is located in the corner of a very busy intersection in Saijo. I did some illegal snapshots in the inside, but I bought a cup of mocca latte, too. 

"... ... no sofuto (soft) wa famirii maato (family mart)", a very good combination to show Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana altogether. Sorry, I can't read those Kanjis in the beginning sentence. Besides DVDs (mostly dubbed in Japanese), magazine section is one main attraction in a konbini. They sell a wide range of magazines and adult contents even sold free. In the morning it is jammed packed with people going to work and school to have a quick breakfast and reading magazines.

Yuri San: Nani o benkyo simasuka? (What are you learning?)
Hiro San: Kanji to Katakana to Hiragana. Taihen musukasi desu ne (Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana. It's totally difficult)


Tall Gary said...


{godai no soft (ware) wa famirii maato de}

This might mean something like, “Family Mart is the place for language software.“ I don’t know any details. Maybe foreign language study; or practice and study for tests of foreign language ability. Maybe even Japanese language.

Vogon Poet – I’ll try to make this brief. Japan adopted Chinese characters more than a thousand years ago because they had no native writing system and China was hot stuff then (like now, again). But the languages are very different. Chinese is a one-syllable language. Japanese has all kinds of inflections—verbs changing tenses and meanings; adjectives too, etc. Anyway, Japan needed extra stuff to write its own language properly so they simplified some Chinese characters and used these as sound syllables only. This is hiragana which is usually rather curvy. So we have kanji (Chinese characters) plus hiragana sounds to be able to make sentences that make sense. The third writing system is called katakana. It too originates as simplified Chinese characters but they are more angular. Actually, hiragana is a simplification of the whole character. Katakana is based on just a part of a character. Katakana is used mostly for foreign words.

So: Kanji for basic meaning; hiragana to flesh out that meaning; Katakana to depict foreign words.

At the top above godai is two kanji meaning (literally) “language subject.” The next symbol is no. It is hiragana. sofuto is katakana representing the foreign word “software.” The next symbol reverts to hiragana. It is wa which marks a topic in a sentence. Then we have famirii maato spelled out in katakana because it is representing the foreign words “Family Mart.” At the end is a final hiragana symbol which is de. It kind of has the meaning of, “by means of.”

“Family Mart for language software.“

So, now that I have confused you, your only hope is to now begin studying Japanese. I wish you patience and the best of luck.

I like your photos Henny. I can get a real sense of being near and inside convenience stores. ちょっと懐かしい。It makes me feel nostalgic.

Vogon Poet said...

I have no words to thank you Tall Gary, I knew the basics but you explained them so well that this time I'm probably much closer to understand the mix.
Henny your photos and story is exactly what I was looking for: familiar objects and situations with attached the various types of strange signs.
For me, now, a sufficient achievement will be to spot the right set of characters, trying to decipher the simplified ones.

Julie said...

so much blue and white in the signage. there must be a marketing guru who says blue is trusting and should be used.

Kaori said...

I LOVE Lawsons!!! I used to work there during college...they have the best oden :)

Kaori said...

I happened to notice the sentence Gary was talking about...and I'm not sure but I think the sentence is 話題(wadai)のソフトはファミリーマートで!

語 and 話 look similar, but the 'wa' (or 'hanashi') has the kanji 'tongue' on the right side.

So 'wadai' would mean something like 'popular' or 'hot topic'...maybe?

henny said...

@ Gary, "Chotto Muzukashii"? Taihen muzukashii. You are born to be a teacher:). The best of luck for me, too.
@ VP, I'll try more in the future, arigatou.
@Julie, I'm enjoying blue while you're enjoying dark night :).
@Kaori, you mean Family Mart, an everyday hot topic? Could be :).

Tall Gary said...

Yes, you are right, of course, Kaori. I’m used to seeing the ”tongue” element with the top stroke at more of an angle and wasn’t thinking (as is so often the case). Thanks. Will you be my teacher forever now?

So what kind of “software” is that? I see what should be entertainment DVDs such as “24,” “MuMmy,” Will Smith’s “Hancock,” “Ponyo on the Cliff,” “Wall・E”... Are DVDs considered to be software? Is there more to it than just a regular DVD? Is that where Lawsons found room to put the DVDs?

I guess you had to be there.

Or is the sign referring to the area below the DVD stuff, like in “soft” cream.