The Wrong Picture (Halloween Commercial)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a story I posted in my Intercultural Communication class blog. It's an experience I had living in Japan. I hope you like it.

As a foreigner in Japan, one has the opportunity to do things that one would not normally do in one’s country. Some of those things can be unforgettable and enriching experiences, but others can be embarrassing. A couple of years ago, I appeared in a Japanese TV commercial, but it wasn’t precisely because of my looks, or maybe it was.

The commercial was to be launched during Halloween and my role was an American professional wrestler zombie. During the shooting, I met people from several nationalities and backgrounds. Among those, there was a group of Japanese students that came from the Kyoto University of Arts and Design to help make the costumes and assist us. They were very friendly and cooperative. They took care of me during the whole shooting. We talked about ourselves, made jokes, and took pictures together.

Once the shooting was over, I thanked them and gave them my email. I was interested in the pictures they took with me, so I told one of them: “??????????? (Can you send me the pictures?” and left. The next day, I got an email from this person and he sent me a picture of himself smiling and making the usual V-sign. It felt a little awkward and I started to think. I realized that when I asked him to send me the pictures we’d taken together, I didn’t specify which pictures. English relies on articles, plural structures, and inflections a lot, while Japanese relies on the context more. At that moment I didn’t notice that literally, I was saying something like “Send me picture, please.” He thought I was asking him to send me a picture of himself! Why would I want his picture?...

This is one of my funny inter-linguistic experiences. I’ve learned that I should be more careful when using a foreign language, so from that moment on, I try to be sensitive to these linguistic aspects when speaking, but, of course, this is not an easy task.

Submitted: October 23, 2009

© Copyright 2022 translingual writer 79. All rights reserved.

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Mistress of Word Play

Hi there. Loved this very funny story. I wish more people would read it. Cultural diversity is important especially in the world today. We communicate not just locally anymore, but internationally as well. I speak three languages: English,German, and Spanish and there are many pitfalls in each of these languages as well. You did a great job expressing that in this write.
I like it.

Sat, October 24th, 2009 1:37pm


Thanks again. I'm very glad you liked it. I speak those three languages, too, plus Japanese because it's where I'm living now.

Sat, October 24th, 2009 6:40am


This was pretty funny. ^^ I don't think I'd ever be able to live in Japan. The only language I know is English and I have a very hard time trying to learn others. I would probably make the same mistake as you if I had found myself in that situation and happened to know ANY Japanese. xD

Sun, October 25th, 2009 2:38am


I'm glad you liked it. Yeah, Japanese is really difficult, but I love it. Thanks.

Sun, October 25th, 2009 1:11am


This is funny.I live in a multi racial country and can speak three languges English, Malay and Manderin.What I realise is that some Japanese words are simillar to Manderin words.
I enjoyed it.

Sun, October 25th, 2009 6:17am


Thank you for your comments. I was in Malaysia in March. I had a great time. Malaysia Truly Asia. : )

Sun, October 25th, 2009 1:10am


Lol I am also foreigner in bolivia a spanish speaking contry and I have had things like that happen to me =)

Thanks for sharing

Sun, October 25th, 2009 1:33pm


Drizz, thanks for your comments. Why don't you write something about your experience living in Bolivia. That must be interesting. I'd like to hear about that.

Sun, October 25th, 2009 6:36am

Reginald Levi Walker

You do write very effortlessly. This was an enjoyable read. Thanks for the laugh.

Sun, October 25th, 2009 10:41pm


Thanks for your comments, Reginald. I'm glad you enjoyed it. : )

Mon, October 26th, 2009 4:02am


The wonders of different languages, i admire how humans pick up languages and learn them. This is truely funny, well done! I myself only English and French. I manage to confuse myself more than other's though and thats just speaking english!

Tue, October 27th, 2009 2:45pm


Thanks for your wonderful comments. First and second language acquisition is one of my favorite topics. That was my major when I went to grad school here in Japan. As you say, using different languages at the same time can be quite confusing at times.

Tue, October 27th, 2009 9:50pm


haha, funny japanese. you speak japanese? NICE i bet it's a hard language to learn

Wed, October 28th, 2009 5:28pm


Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I speak Japanese and it's indeed a difficult language. It took me years to be able to master it to some extent.

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:29am

Roziel FireHart

Wow, thats sort of a funny situation. I'm part Chilean and Spanish sentences to me have the words set up wrong :)

I like your work :)


Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:06am


Gracias. I'm glad you like my work. Spanish is my first language and I've never thought about Spanish syntax like that, but of course I do when I speak Japanese. It's so different!

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:37am


That was pretty funny, same things happened to me :P
Love your work!

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:34am


Thanks. Really? I'd like to hear your stories. Why don't you write about them?

Thu, October 29th, 2009 2:38am


hello there, you aked me to drop in and review one of your writtings and im not sure which you wanted me to look at so i just choose one. lol. now, im actually shocked to find that english is not your native language at first. skimmy over your words i found that your sentences structure and vocab are easy to understand. Also, the story and expereince is commical and easy to relate to. im not one to ask about spelling(correct spelling is somthing i lack. lol honeslty i cant spell to save my life. :P)but from what i could see everythign was spelled right. your writting stayed on a correct path and your thoughts werent scattered. The only realy bad thing i can comment on is your lack of details. like what did your costume really look like? what colors, textures, anything. lol Another small thing i noticed is your punctuation. lol you might have lost or forgotton a ending parenthe. but over all i really enjoyed reading this. it was very amusing. :D

Fri, October 30th, 2009 2:43am


Thank you for your great comments. Yeah, I agree with you that I didn't give details about the costumes. One reason is because this was originally written for an intercultural communication class blog, so I could not focus on the descriptions rather than intercommunication issues. But then, I could've edited it before posting it here, my mistake.
Another reason is that it was posted online. Most people do not like to read online, so messages have to be concise and with spaces between paragraphs.
Your comments are really useful and I'll take this into account if I ever publish this article. Thanks again for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

Fri, October 30th, 2009 5:53am


I think instances like this happen even when everyone speaks the same language!! Going to Japan must have been a really great experience, and I'm sure you learned a lot. Your stories are kind of like reading a grammatically-correct, intriging journal/diary. It offers insight to ordinary events, but makes it interesting :)

Sun, November 1st, 2009 1:26pm


Thanks for your comments. It has indeed been a fabulous experience that's changed my life. I've learned so much about Japan and about the world in general. I've been lucky.

Sun, November 1st, 2009 5:36am


You're using almost an essay format.

...its nostalgic.

Thu, November 5th, 2009 5:38am


Really? When I wrote it, I didn't think so much about the style. Why is it nostalgic? Does it remind you of your school or college days?

Thu, November 5th, 2009 3:04am


haha interesting, I used to run into similar problems when I first moved to the States and was just beginning to explore with the language.
At least you didn't end up getting into trouble!
Ah but this was a funny story and I enjoyed it!
Looking forward to more!

Mon, November 23rd, 2009 6:18am

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