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Tweet of the Week #108: Perfectly Failed Pictures

Japanese Twitter turns photo fails into unintentional wins.

By 4 min read

Point and shoot. Taking pictures at the perfect time couldn’t be easier, right? Well, the reality is that professional photographers train for years to actively “wait'” for that brief moment of perfection. 

The rest of us mostly end up with photo fails. But a picture gone wrong can be perfect in a different way. At least good enough for a laugh.

That’s the story behind the trending hashtag #全日本失敗写真協会, or “failed photograph association of all Japan,” encouraging people to share pictures taken at the wrong time. Photos get ruined for several reasons— shaky hands, incorrect settings, bad angles or an unfortunate movement—but scrolling back can reveal surprising results!

Timing Fails


これ以外いがいないでしょわら これが見納みおさめよ

“There’s no other (better) than this lol. Look at this.”


“I took a picture thinking my friend’s cat yawning was cute but took a picture of a cat looking like Antonio Inoki”*

*Antonio Inoki, a professional Japanese wrestler, is famously known not only for his career achievements but also for his ‘incredible’ chin.

くろねこは、普通ふつうのねこより たくさんがあるから 素晴すばらしい。

“Compared to regular cats, black cats have a lot of eyes, so they’re awesome.”

Panorama Fails

Taking panoramic pictures is super hard, and most of the time, you end up shooting some weirdly warped scenes and creatures who’d fit perfectly in Japanese horror movies.


“My friend’s neck blown away as I took a picture with the iPhone’s panorama mode.”



“Panoramic picture of the neighborhood association hanami and my father, who became a multi-legged creature.”

It’s all about the angle.

A picture is worth a thousand words. In Japan, a lot of those words are probably やばい (terrible, cool) and 面白おもしろい (funny).




“What is this?!

I was able to shoot at an angle that’s too hilarious.”


よこ撮りしてしまったせいで 生首なまくび取ったどー!になってしまった。 ごめんなさい。CIMA選手せんしゅ

“Because I took a sideways shot, it ended up looking like he’s holding CIMA’s freshly severed head. I’m sorry CIMA!.”*

*CIMA is professional wrestler Nobuhiko Oshima’s ring name.

Is it magic?

Adding studio-quality lighting effects to your pic, smartphones’ portrait mode (you know, the artificial bokeh) tends to cut off some background elements, giving birth to some more awesome pictures!


“When I used the portrait mode, the fork disappeared, I guess it’s time to share this [picture]?”

How to use the verb しまう (shimau)

Kēkī o tabete shimaimashita

We’ve seen in our Tweet of the Week #16 that the verb しまう (shimau) and its casual form ちゃう (chau), expresses regret in having done an unintentional action, often ending with an unsatisfactory result.

  • フォクがされてしまった = the fork got erased (unintentionally).
  • 生首なまくびったどー!になってしまった = it ended up (unintentionally) looking like he’s holding (CIMA’s) freshly severed head (unsatisfactory result)!
  • ヤバすぎるアングルでれてしまった = I took (unintentionally) a picture with a really hilarious angle.

Note that しまう can also mean ‘to finish something completely.’

These pictures are perfect illustrations underlying how しまう translates as having done something by accident. But you should note that しまう can also mean “to finish something completely.”

  • 宿題しゅくだいをしてしまいましたよ = I finished my homework.

Unfortunately, distinguishing which nuance is intended can be difficult. According to Japanese grammar books, the first clue lies in distinguishing between volitional verbs (the speaker is active) and non-volitional verbs (the speaker is passive). Whenever the verb is non-volitional, the speaker can’t help the situation.

しまう is often coupled with volitional verbs such as べる (to eat).

But the distinction isn’t always that clear with volitional verbs. For instance, しまう is often coupled with volitional verbs such as べる (to eat) or う (to tell):

  • ケーキーを食べてしまいました = I ate the cake completely (and there’s no cake left).
  • ケーキーを食べてしまいました = I ate the cake completely (my body acted on its own and I couldn’t help myself).
  • 秘密ひみつを言ってしまいました = I told the secret (it’s out—there’s no judgment).
  • 秘密を言ってしまいました = I told the secret (I couldn’t help myself. I regret it).

In such a case, the context of the conversation will be your second clue. The speaker’s tone or what follows will tell you whether the statement is a matter of fact or a regret.


Japanese Romaji English
失敗写真協会しっぱいしゃしんきょうかい shippai shyashin kyoukai failed photograph association
1秒前いちびょうまえまで ichi byou mae made up to one second ago
パノラマ撮影さつえい panorama satsuei panoramic mode
噴水ふんすい funsui fountain
れい rei spirit, ghost
生首なまくび nama kubi freshly severed head
ポートレートモード pootoreetomoodo portrait mode
秘密ひみつ himitsu secret


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