And I JUST learned how to say it!

Bummed voices echoed across the Internet after news broke that a branch of the Shibushi City Hall will be converted to a main office as of 1 January, 2021. Normally, such news would go unnoticed, but this particular municipal support center in Kagoshima Prefecture attracted national fame for its difficult to read name.

▼ Shibushi’s other claim to fame is being the hometown of Japan’s most adorable sumo wrestler, Chiyomaru

Breaking it all down: the office is located in the Shibushi district of Shibushi Town. However, in 2006 Shibushi town amalgamated Ariake and Matsuyama towns to become Shibushi City. As a result, the Shibushi district was renamed “Shibushi Town Shibushi” district. So the official name of the office as of this writing is as follows:

Things get even more fun when you translate everything back to Japanese, where words such as “city” become “shi” and “branch office” is “shisho.”

And then, when you convert it to Japanese script, which often doesn’t use spaces in between words? Have some Advil ready before reading this:

However, when it reopens on 4 January, it will become:

While it still retains a lot of its confusion, a big part of the original’s charm was trying to stick that “shisho” landing. Replacing it with “honcho” is just drearily anticlimactic. Readers of the news too were saddened by the modification, though many tried to keep their chins up.

“A surly and surely shitty story from Shibushi City.”
“Are Shibushishishibushichoshibushinoshibushishiyakushoshibushishisho and Shibushishishibushichoshibushinoshibushishiyakushohoncho really all that different?”
“The whole Gestalt of it is ruined now.”
“I love Shibushi City! They have great steak and eel from furusato tax.”
“Every time I see that name I think it’s a puzzle.”
“The new name still hurts my head.”

It’s unfortunate, but improving government efficiency is usually a good thing, so it was probably a wise decision. I think Bob Dylan was talking about exactly this situation in the lyrics to The Times They Are A Changin’, which I dare not repeat for fear of lawsuit. He never actually mentions Shibushi-shi Shibushi-cho Shibushi no Shibushi Shiyakusho Shibushi Shiso by name, but you could tell it was on his mind because he usually had a puzzled look on his face.

Source: Twitter/@S_N1125 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Gahukuro
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