Tweet of the Week #61: Store Label Typo Strikes Back

Learn how to input small kana on a computer without a Japanese keyboard with this week's typo-tastic tweet.

By 3 min read

Buyers beware. Japanese stores, lead by the evil Don Quijote chain, all share but one goal: To make you relinquish all powers of reasoning and lose your ability to calculate how much you’re buying as well as precisely what you’re buying.

Shopping in Japan is the worst

Make no mistake, Japanese stores’ hectic environments and noise pollution are carefully thought customer traps created to push you to the edge of bankruptcy. Between nonsensical aisle arrangements and background jingles endlessly looping, the complex price display is the cherry on the cake.

Japan applies a 10% consumption tax only once you get to the cashier. Most of the time, prices are displayed pre-tax (税別ぜいべつ), in big bold letters. That’s to make you forget about the after-tax prices (税込ぜいこみ) written somewhere in very tiny like letters—if they are written at all.

Typos, typos everywhere

Surprisingly, Japanese price displays are rarely digital. Store owners type and print product prices and labels before placing them on shelves. Mistakes are bound to happen, and they often do. Just take this restaurant offering a free wife to customers as a recent example.

Luckily, Japanese Twitter users such as @lumt29 are always on the frontline to report the latest snafu.

5時間ごじかんくらいわらってる = I’ve been laughing for 5 hours

And we’re laughing too. On the picture, you can spot Lady Borden ice-cream cups advertised as レデーボデデデン (Ladee Boodededen) for the occasion.

PS: the correct spelling is, of course, レディーボーデン.

To be fair, katakana is kinda hard, as this Twitter user’s reply below proves once again.


This store is shamelessly advertising something called baby ham for 104.76 a pack. OK, but seriously: “.76” And also what on earth is baby ham?

How can you input small kana on a computer?

First, you should know that you don’t need a Japanese keyboard to type in Japanese. You can do so phonetically, after activating your Japanese IME.

Once you’re set, you’ll see how easy it is!

That said, several kana, in fact, do not have official romanization. This minor hiccup concerns mostly borrowed words written in katakana. So, how do you write “” in レディー (Lady)?

Here’s what you should know.

  • , , , , and their katakana counterparts , , , , ォ as well as (), (), () = type the letter x or l before the vowel.
  • When you are combining a consonant and a vowel, like in “Lady,” you actually can write in two ways:
  1. “Redexiー”
  2. “Redhiー”
  • The little , which marks a double consonant, is easy too! Just repeat the consonant: ippai = いっぱい.
  • A little unusual, but always good to know: . Type “du” or “dzu” (depending on your computer input system)

Luckily for you, as long as you’re typing correctly a word, your computer’s predictive system should kick in and suggest the ending without making you sweat!


Japanese Romaji English
税別ぜいべつ zeibetsu before-tax price
税込ぜいこみ zeikomi after-tax price
5時間ごじかん go jikan 5 hours
くらい kurai about (for), around
わら warau laugh
レディー redeii lady
いっぱい ippai a lot

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