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Tomsima
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For those of you who understand Japanese, here is a joke you can try on your friends. What does this single 'Chinese character' mean?

 

Most people guess ‘jungle’. Wrong. It is Roppongi (a neighborhood in Tokyo.) Roppongi literally means ‘six trees’.

 

(Boy, is my calligraphy bad or what...)

 

roppongi2.png

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  • 3 years later...

Amused me to see that 章炳麟 (the original source of the bopomofo symbols) clearly thought these kinds of characters were good fun - check out the names of some of his children:

 

章㸚

章叕

章㠭

章㗊

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@NinjaTurtle I'm sorry I missed your post when it was new. You've got the punch line right, but as any experienced comedian will attest to, it's all in how you set up that punch line. When a Japanese kid sets up this old gag for his or her friends, the set up goes something like this:

 

The first kid writes 木 on a piece of paper, and then asks the audience to read it. Everyone will then respond "ki" for tree. Then the would-be comedian adds another tree to the first one, yielding 林, to which everyone responds "hayashi." This can mean either a small grove of trees, or the surname, Hayashi. Our budding straight man then adds a third tree, yielding 森, to which his now bored audience shouts "mori" in unison. This can signify either "forest" or the surname, Mori. Finally, the bottom line of "木木木" is added as in your illustration, producing a slew of wrong answers, or exclamations of "there's no such character..." from the audience. Then, and only then, will our hero, or heroine, reveal the answer you provided,  六本木, or Roppongi in romanization.

 

I guess the only reason I wrote this all out, is in honor of the hundreds of kids belonging to my friends and colleagues, who over the years have tried this one out on me. Needless to say, I was duty-bound to fall for it every time.

 

TBZ

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