The invisible business of the face

When we were young – most of us at Afia anyway – buying something by mail order was quite an adventure. Sending away for something from another country was our equivalent of climbing Everest. But now we have Ebay. If you set your search to include international items, not just the ones whose owners have paid to make them go global, you can find some amazing bargains.

Here’s once piece of advice though. Don’t spend all afternoon at a Japanese “Sake Experience” then decide it’s a good idea to go online looking for vintage kimonos, find that they are an amazing bargain, bid for 15 of them and assume that you’ll be outbid on 14.

To cut to the chase, when the first package of three kimonos arrived, it came with this note:


The Japanese have all manner of sophisticated text translation software. They don’t always get it spot on. They’re not good at spotting formal and informal language and translate businesslike Japanese into the kind of chat you’d have with your gran.

Is it perfect English? No.

Has it been run through a piece of English generating software? Probably. But it really doesn’t matter when you get something so lovely, where the meaning is perfectly clear, despite the original phrases in there.

Our favourite is the new description of trading with people you never meet, “the invisible business of the face”.

What it did was to give me a sense that my business with them was really appreciated. I also pray for their being a relationship with me after this heartily. The Kissako Store owners went to the trouble of putting in a message which they could have left out. Would it have helped if they got a proper copywriter to fix it for them? Maybe not.

It’s a photocopy; but it’s their brand values in words: “I want to have the world know a Japanese good item from now on.”

Their tone of voice is endearing, genuine and caring. Despite the odd use of English, the meaning is clear, and the result is that I want to go back online and see what else they have.

That’s surely the outcome they were hoping for.