Japan Signs: Tokyo Fruit Juice Bar

Japan Signs: Fruit Juice Bar

I stumbled on this juice bar at a train station in Tokyo and thought it would make a perfect image for my Japan Sign series.

There’s a great mixture of hiragana, katakana and kanji although I’ll mainly be looking at the katakana in today’s example. As always please feel free to work your way through the whole sign and see what you can work out.

Banana Juice (バナナジュース)

First up on the left we have Banana Juice (バナナジュース), which is entirely in Katakana. Banana is written as バナナ (ba-na-na) and juice is ジュース (ju-u-su).

While banana is straight forward, juice is a little more tricky as it has two problem areas for beginners – the small yu (ュ) joined to the ジ (ji) to form ジュ (ju) and then a ー, which doubles the vowel sound preceding it.

Small Kana

To arrive at the final syllable (ju), we need to start with シ (shi) and then add the double marks (ジ), known as dakuten, which then changes its meaning to ji. From there we add the small ュ (yu) to form ジュ (ju). The ー after ジュ doubles the vowel sound to get juu. Phew!

There are several hiragana/katakana that can be both normal and small size including ゃ (ya), ゅ (yu), ょ (yo) and tsu (っ) or in katakana ャ (ya), ュ (yu), ョ (yo) and tsu (ッ). Check out my little tsu article for more information.

There are two main rules to apply when a little kana follows a normal size kana.

The first rule is for two letter kana (eg most of them) – remove the last letter of the kana and add the full little kana. An example is きゃ (kya), which starts as き (ki) but when the little hiragana ゃ(ya) is added it becomes きゃ (kya).

When it comes to three-letter kana like し (shi), the rule changes. In this instance you remove the last letter and keep the first two to get しゃ (sha) rather than shya or sya as you might expect.

More Fruit

Mango Juice follows the same pattern with Mango written as マンゴ followed by ジュース (juice). Mango, like banana, is a loan word and as such is always written in katakana.

Our next sign is カシスと黒酢ジュース, which translates as Black Currant and Black Vinegar Juice.

The spelling of Black Currant (カシス ka-shi-su) comes from the word – Cassis – which means French Black Currants.

We then see the particle – と – that basically means “and”.

Finally we get to 黒酢ジュース.

黒酢 can be broken down as 黒 (くろ – black) and 酢 (ず – vinegar).

Kiwi and Apple Juice (キーウィとりんごジュース) is our last Japan Sign on the right.

Kiwi is another loan word so is written in katakana – キーウィ. We see the と particle again and then りんご, which you most likely know means “Apple”.

Well we’ve made it through all of the great fruit drinks on offer. I hope it’s been useful to you and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

The Breakdown

Kanji Kana Meaning
バナナジュース Banana Juice
バナナ Banana
ジュース Juice
マンゴージュース Mango Juice
マンゴー Mango
カシスと黒酢ジュース Black Currant and Black Vinegar Juice
カシス Black Currant
黒酢 くろず Black Vinegar
くろ Black
キーウィとりんごジュース Kiwi and Apple Juice
キーウィ Kiwi
りんご Apple
カップ Cup

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