The Japanese taste for incredibly goofy wordplay has been already been well-established by this blog, but here's one that amused me.
Here's the brand of shio-kombu (salted, soy-boiled kelp) that I have recently begun to favor as a filling in my riceballs1. Note the tough looking fellow2, his coat slung over his shoulder, his tie loosened, and his hair smeared back in a post-war detective-movie kind of way. He's a weathered-looking dude, isn't he? He must be the cynical one who chain-smokes Peace brand cigs at his desk in the precinct, and leans over the interrogation-room table, sleeves rolled, to breathe the smoke into perps' faces. When it's time to hit the bricks, he acts as the father figure to his callow young partner. He's the one who makes the speech about how he learned the hard way not to get Too Involved. Probably his woman in Asakusa ended up on the wrong side of a gun. And now this considerable person is speaking personally to assure us of this product's fine quality. His appropriately hard-boiled (soy-boiled?) name is Shiokombuchō, (塩こん部長)... which is, of course, an extremely silly portmanteau of “shiokombu”, the product, and “buchō”-- “department chief”, or, says my dictionary, “police sergeant”. Could they get away with marketing “Sgt. Kelp”, (or worse “ShioKomBoss”, brand seaweed in the US?
1Not least because the other, white label is a friendly notice that this package of kombu (which naturally bioaccumulates iodine and hence collects the nasty iodic isotopes that are released by malfunctioning nuclear power plants) has been carefully tested for radiation and its safety assured. A creepy reminder of the times. It's gladdening to recall that, since a year has passed since the Fukushima incident, the short-lived I-131 the plant released has already harmlessly decayed, testing or no. But it's Sgt. Kelp's words that really reassure!
2Who would win in a fight, Shiokombuchō or Boss Coffee Guy? Discuss.