TripAdvisor Japan to give away T-shirts full of overseas obscenities

TripAdvisor Japan to give away T-shirts full of overseas obscenities

TOKYO —

Popular travel website TripAdvisor is giving away 100 free T-shirts to lucky visitors to their Japanese website. What’s the catch you might ask? They are covered with hand gestures deemed obscene by other countries’ peoples.

The T-shirts are based on a TripGraphic (trip infographic) the company released which illustrates 12 hand gestures considered innocuous in Japan but may lead to bodily harm in other parts of the world.

It’s hard to verify the authenticity of these gestures without being a hardcore world traveler/anthropologist but they seem to cover a wide range of offensiveness. Let’s have a look at the TripGraphic in English.

1. “This offensive gesture comes from an old act of throwing things at criminals with two fingers. (Greece)”

Already we’re off to a weird start methinks. This explanation smelled fishy so I researched it and in all of Googledom I couldn’t find any story matching this.  Perhaps a Greek person could clear the air here?

2. “This mocking and offensive gesture comes from a sexual expression. (Middle East, South Africa, South America, etc.)”
That one’s definitely good to know, but I wonder what Middle Eastern scuba divers do…

3. “By resembling the character for ‘zero’ this mocking and insulting gesture implies ‘uselessness.’ (France)”

So I guess this is not OK to use over there.

4. “This offensive gesture originally means to kill one’s opponent. (America, English, etc.)”
Well, this is probably true but I would worry about flashing this one around anywhere in North America.  People would probably think you didn’t like a movie and ignore you.

5. “In this insulting gesture, erecting the pinky finger symbolizes a pathetic person. (China)”

When I do that, it symbolizes the popcorn stuck in my teeth and my intentions to remove it.

6. “People using this gesture resembling a sexual image are mocking and offending you. (America, England, etc.)”

Never really thought of it as a “sexual image” but I can vouch that it’s bad. I can’t understand why it’s lower on the list than a “thumbs down” though.

7. “This crude, obscene gesture takes the image of genitals. (Turkey)”

Heeey, I always thought my uncle was playing the I-got-your-nose game. No wonder he kept doing it even when I was in high school… I have to see my therapist.

8. “This mocking gesture represents a weak baby goat’s horns. (Mediterranean)”
I can’t see the effectiveness in this one. I’m not entirely sure I could take a baby goat in an unarmed fight, especially if it has horns.

9. “This offensive gesture simulates throwing dirt in someone’s face. (Greece)”

Good to know, but I reckon hurling your palm at someone’s face is a universally bad thing to do.

10. “This gesture has a sexual origin and mocks or insults others. (England, Australia, etc.)”
In North America, people don’t mind this so much. It usually means you want two of something.

11. “This insulting gesture has sexual origins. (England)”
I wish I was able to put the Bevis and Butthead laugh into written form right now. Really?! The shocker made this list?  Granted it’s certainly not a clean gesture, but doing this in a Western country will probably just make people laugh at you.

12. “This gesture offends people by representing genitals. (Vietnam)”

Do Vietnamese people have twisty looking genitals like that?

There you have it. Again, these explanations should be taken with a grain of salt as hand gestures’ histories and meanings are full of urban legends.

For readers outside of Japan, you can also note the opposite of this chart. All of these gestures are more or less fine to do here.  I can vouch for that as I see so many people flinging around their middle fingers in Japan it’s like I’m on an LA freeway.

TripAdvisor is taking contest entries for the T-shirts until the end of June.

RocketNews24

  • 3

    OMGhontoni

    So what are you saying? All those taxi drivers and salarymen I have been flipping the bird at all these years have just walked away thinking I want one of something??! Can someone advise on the correct gesture in Japan for real impact the next time I get cut up/knocked down/felt up/pissed off??!

  • 2

    Probie

  • 1

    GW

    7 applies to Japan as well!

    I remember the first time I did the I got your nose thing at the office when talking about something to do with kids, in mixed company, dead silence, pulled aside quick explanation, me laughs out loud, then i explain my explanation, we all laugh some!

  • 2

    gogogo

    So the like button on facebook offends everyone from Middle East, South Africa, South America, etc ? Highly unlikely.

  • 2

    Marintan

    Number 7 applies in Indonesia as well...

  • 0

    Eduardo Gonzalez

    Don't bother wear it in North Korea, they're the deadliest to the Kim Jong Un regime, and the older ones such as Kim Jong Il and its founder Kim Il Sung

  • 1

    Simon Phillips

    Number 11 gesture I have never seen and I am an English man.

    Number 10 is wrong as Probie wrote. The sign used to be done by longbowman to signify that they still have the two fingers to shoot there bows, and a way of mocking the enemy.

  • 1

    Cletus

    I have to say out of all of them number 6 is the most effective pretty much everywhere. It certainly gets your point across.

  • 0

    Hategobo

    No.5 mocks the size of a man`s penis in UK, and also in Hong Kong as far as I remember from all those years ago

  • 0

    moonknightskye

    When I do that, it symbolizes the popcorn stuck in my teeth and my intentions to remove it.

    is the spaces between your teeth that far? lolz

  • -2

    Thunderbird2

    I'm Scots and I've never seen that #11 gesture before, looks almost like the 'devil' or 'hex' gesture used by rock fans, but it should be the two middle fingers held down, not one.

    Then again what would you expect from Trip Advisor? Accuracy?

  • -1

    Probie

    Number 11 gesture I have never seen and I am an English man.

    I am too, and neither have I. Not in England anyway. I thought it was called the Shocker, and it was American.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shocker_(hand_gesture)

    Did the person who wrote this do any research??

  • 1

    Foggia

    Meaning in Japan, as far as I know: 1 - Regular pose for photos 2 - Boyfriend (possible gay undertone ?) 3 - It's OK, it's perfect 4 - No meaning I know of 5 - Girlfriend 6 - Nothing I know of in Japan, but fairly know in Japan for being an insulting gesture abroad. 7 - No meaning I know of, but GW's comment above seem to say different 8 - Heavy Metal ! 9 - 10, when you count by closing then opening your fingers. 10 - A rarer variation of #1 11 - No meaning I know of 12 - No meaning I know of

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    Can the JT staffers please stop referring to the UK as England? Thanks

    Oh and looking at these again... so the universal sign for divers saying 'OK' is an insult in France? Do the French divers just shrug?

  • 0

    Marion Japon

    N°3 is wrong too. It meant "zéro" orginally but I guess a lot of people now use it to mean "ok" like the previous poster mentioned especially when they're diving. As far as I know 4 comes from the Roman sign used during gladiator games but in Europ at least it's ok to use. Who wrote that article ???

  • 0

    m6bob

    7 applies very much in Singapore. It's the same as flashing your male genital at someone you hate. Another bad one is done with both hands - slap your clenched fist at the thumb area in the direction of your hated neighbour.

  • 1

    Christina O'Neill

    Could I just wear one at our senior citizens gatherings just to set the cat among the pigeons?

  • -2

    Mocheake

    I think the stupid t-shirts with mangled or nonsense English would be more offensive in many places.

  • 2

    bicultural

    I'm surprised so many people have never seen or heard of the shocker

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    bicultural: Hahahaha!! I was JUST going to come on here and say that when I saw you beat me to it.

    Anyway, the sad part about this T-shirt is that since it would be from a company related to travel, some people will be dumb enough to wear it overseas. Depending on where they go, of course, it would either be chuckled at or scorned.

  • 1

    stuart_jukes

    I'm English and have NEVER seen number 11, but I can tell you that number 10 (and weirdly the way many young people in Japan hold their fingers when having their photo taken with the back of the hand facing forward ) is definitely offensive here (it mean...F-off basically). I read it came from a taunt we used to use on the French way back when battles were fought on the field and captured archers had their fingers chopped off rendering them unable to do their job. The British would hold up their fingers to say (hey...FU... we still have our fingers...look ) ! (No-one knows for sure how true that story is).

  • 0

    Ruslan Konovchenko

    Peace and respect!!!!!!!!!! You are the best !!!!!!!!

  • -1

    Lauren Gardner

    I think all the meanings have changed over time. Lots of times kids put their fingers in a certain way for photos, to be cool. Like 1) Peace. 2) Thumbs up! I like it! 3.) Perfect! A-OK! 4) Don't like it or Disagree. 5) The pinky one. Pinky promise, and you hook your pinky in someones pinky. Also "Mini-Me" does it in a Movie. 6) Universal "F U." 7) Only used to pretend you're stealing a child's nose. 8) This meant "Bull Shit," 45 years ago. Seems to mean "Rock N Roll," now. 9) Means STOP, or 5. 10) Means "I'm Cool," especially when displayed while your picture is being taken. 11) Just kids again, making this gesture to laughingly imitate gangs. 12) When held behind your back, it means you are telling a little lie, or even just kidding. Held in front, and up...It's like, you hope you get a good card, or win the lottery or something, for LUCK! I'm from Minnesota. Does anybody agree with these??

  • 0

    VicMOsaka

    Number 8 is the satanic sign of the goat ( baphomet ) It is used to show that you are a Mason. Many important people Like GW Bush and others have flashed the sign on TV many times.

  • 0

    Geoff Gillespie

    The British would hold up their fingers to say (hey...FU... we still have our fingers...look ) ! (No-one knows for sure how true that story is).

    Actually, it was the English and not the British - no Scottish or Welsh bowmen would have been fighting alongside the English at that time - and it has been 100% authenticated as true.

  • 0

    Serrano

    "9. This offensive gesture simulates throwing dirt in someone's face. ( Greece )"

    Oh good grief, that gesture looks like "Hi!" to anyone else.

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