Even after living in Japan for more than a decade, I still get excited when I see a restaurant with paper lanterns hanging out in front of it. The mix of vibrant colors and bold calligraphy is just so uniquely Japanese that it instantly fills me with a sense of excitement.

Of course, just a bit of the eroticism has faded over time, especially now that I can read the calligraphy and tell that it usually doesn’t say anything more dramatic than “draft beer” or “grilled chicken skewers.” But while those lanterns are usually giving the menu highlights in Japan, at this Japanese restaurant in Thailand, they’re instead plastered with non sequiturs, gags, and the occasional philosophical declaration and/or love letter to women’s breasts.

Shakariki 432 has seven branches in Bangkok and one in the city of Chonburi. Some focus on specific dishes like sushi or yakiniku, but the rest are general-purpose izakaya, Japanese restaurants that serve a variety of small dishes to munch on while knocking back a few cold beers.

Playing up the homeland of the cuisine it serves, this branch’s exterior, as photographed by Twitter user Sachiko Tojo, is decorated with a row of red paper lanterns, the telltale sign of an izakaya.

Their messages, though, don’t have anything to do with the house specialties.

From left to right, the lanterns in the collage’s left picture mean:

Be true to yourself.
If you answer, the customers will understand.
Don’t act like you know everything about things you’ve never done yourself.
I love boobies.
A straight line.

The first three seem like good advice, if perhaps not directly related to the restaurant business/dining out experience. The fourth one, though, is a bit of a surprise, but hey, some guys just like to let everyone know exactly where they stand on the divisive subject of breasts. Besides, we can’t really be all that shocked by the suddenness of “I love boobies” when we’re so busy scratching our heads over the randomness of “A straight line.”

The weirdness continues in the top right photo, with the lantern on the far right reading, “In good physical condition” and also “casual love.” The next lantern to its left is adorned with a mix of kanji, hiragana, and katakana characters meaning “A knock to the pelvic bone.” We’re not sure if that’s better or worse than a poke in the eye. Other lanterns proclaimi “Currently looking for a purpose in life” and “A life with impact”

Sachiko was a little puzzled by all this, asking, “So do they figure because the customers can’t read Japanese, they can just write whatever they want?” Well, maybe, and maybe not.

A quick check of Shakariki 432’s website lists a phone number for each branch for those calling to speak directly with Japanese staff, which would imply that at least some of the employees, possibly managers, at each restaurant are Japanese expats living in Thailand. Second, the website proudly boasts that Shakariki 432 is a place to enjoy “The traditional food of Osaka in Thailand.”

TR 7

Osaka isn’t just known for its good honest grub, but also the city’s borderline obsession with boisterous comedy, so again, it seems like the weirdness is intentional, and all in the interest of giving diners who can read Japanese a chuckle or two.

▼ Shakariki 432’s Chonburi branch, where the lantern on the far right says “spineless cowards.”

In any case, it’s probably best not to take things too seriously at a restaurant that’s slapped a nametag saying “Takumi” (タクミ)  on one of its decorative statues, as though it’s about to say “Hi, I’m Takumi, and I’ll be your moai this evening. Can I get everyone started with some drinks?”

Related: Shakariki 432 website
Source: Twitter (1, 2)
Insert images: Shakariki 432 (1, 2)