Akihabara competitor’s goodbye is as sweet and salty as French fries dipped in chocolate sauce.

Business is a competitive endeavor. If you and a another company are offering similar products or services, every sale they make is one you don’t.

But that doesn’t mean there’s never room for respect between rivals. Case in point: At the end of January, the McDonald’s Showadori branch in Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood permanently closed down, and it broke the news to passersby by putting up a sign that read:

“Thank you for your 22 years of patronage.

The Akihabara Showadori branch McDonald’s will be permanently closing at 6 p.m. on January 31. Thank you for the past 22 years. We deeply appreciate the customers who supported this branch, and hope you will continue to dine at other McDonald’s locations.”

▼ The goodbye sign

That sort of gesture is pretty common in Japan. But what’s unusual is the sign that went up just a few doors down on the same block…

…where there’s a Burger King.

Burger King’s message reads:

Thank you for 22 happy years.

Our neighbor two buildings over, McDonald’s, will be closing today.
Esteemed rival, and fellow friend who loved Akihabara,
because you were close by, we also could do our best.
Without you here, McDonald’s, thinking of the future fills us with sadness.
Selfish though it is for us to say this, everyone, please go to McDonald’s today.
Challenging ourselves to be as good as McDonald’s has been our goal, so with a smile, we say thank you.

That’s really sweet of Burger King, isn’t it? Sure, the phrasing might be a little stiff, but the sentiment is pure, right?

Not so fast. As pointed out in a reply to @sato322’s tweet, if you take another look at Burger King’s poster, there’s what seems to be a hidden message.

Let’s examine look at the start of each line:

● Our: 私たち
● Esteemed: たかいに良き
● because you were close by: ちかくにいたから
● Without: のいない
● Selfish: 勝手な
● Challenging ourselves:チャレンジャーの私たち

Take the first character of each of those, and you get:

Watashitachi no kachi, which means:

“Victory is ours.”

Granted, it’s possible that Burger King isn’t intentionally trying to rub salt in the McDonald’s branches fatal wounds with a salty sendoff, but if this is all just a coincidence, it’s a massive one.

At the very least, the Burger King poster’s offer to give anyone with a McDonald’s Akihabara Showadori customer receipt a free cup of coffee between not and February 6 seems to be OK to take at face value. And while a bit of patting themselves on the back is understandable, McDonald’s would probably like Burger King, and burger fans, to remember that there are still three other McDonald’s branches in the Akihabara vicinity.

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