Deciphering the Important Messages on Japanese Students’ Pencil Cases

Pencil case reading luv more with checklist

Luv-more! What a wonderful sentiment that we can all get behind! But remember, you can’t just luv-more whenever you feel like it. The Japanese are busy people with an extreme work culture, so luving-more should be confined to specific times, and this pencil case lays out the rules with a helpful, directional infographic.

Morning luving, fine. Night-time luving, go for it. Luving during the day? No way.

Then things get a bit needy when you turn the case on its side.

This pencil case is the stationary equivalent of explaining a joke to your friends even if they already got it. Everyone was having fun, and now everyone just feels a bit sad.

Everyone knows it’s cool to be an addict, as proven by the bold and titillating fonts on this pencil case. Yuka, its 13-year-old owner, has hopes of one day becoming a cute and sexy meth addict like her favourite K-pop idols. She’s already battling a severe smartphone addiction which has led to an ADD diagnosis and a drop in her grades, so this pencil case is really meaningful for her.

Pencil case slogan reading lose and find where's my sneaker

While some Japanese pencil cases glorify addiction, others pose philosophical questions like ‘Where’s my sneaker?’ —something we have all mused upon at one time or other.

What’s more, the impactful title ‘Lose and Find’ … are three words found in an English dictionary.

I asked Kota—the 12-year-old owner of this pencil case—who these special, brand new girls were and why he needs to tick them off a checklist. He was as much in the dark as I was, which is probably for the best.

I’ve been working with teenagers for a while so I’m very down with the kids and their slang. These days teens talk in internet networking terminology. For example, if someone has ‘no signal’ or ‘no WiFi’ they’re super lame or they have no chat. But if you have either written on your own pencil case then it’s self-referential and therefore you’re cool.

The Simpsons picture on pencil case title All American Family

Japanese stationary teaches students from a young age that Americans are animated, yellow, human-like creatures with massive, round white eyes and pin pricks for irises.

The misunderstanding has been putting a lot of strain on Japanese-American relations because no one in Japan feels comfortable communicating with a nation of 2D humanoids with really tall and sharp heads.

At the heart of the problem are the pencil case manufacturers. ‘We’ve already created the prototypes of the All-American Family pencil cases and our contract with the major department stores is in place for the next 100 years’ says Satoshi Mikitani, CEO of Pencase With U Smile Everyday!, the leading supplier of pencil cases in Japan.

‘Plus’, his VP added, ‘I’ve been watching episodes of a documentary that follows the lives of a well-known, US family of five since it first started in 1989, so I know exactly what Americans look like and I won’t be tricked into thinking otherwise.’

‘Let us be more casual and cute’ goes the old, famous Japanese adage. Above is the version in full but most Japanese just repeat the shortened mantra to themselves in the mirror, or whisper it hurriedly as they bow to one another.

“Cubes” is unrelated. It’s actually the tag of a renowned, very neat and precise Japanese street artist.

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