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Subway Trololo

AHAHAHAHA! No! Seriously?

Packed like sushi into my morning commute train, I didn’t even have enough room to hold my kanji flashcards in front of my nose and flip through them cross-eyed, so I was reduced to watching the endless cycle of ads on the video monitors above the doors. Electric razors…beer…makeup…Broadway musicals with all-Japanese casts…insurance…bead bracelets…WHAT?! <fellow commuters edge away from scary laughing foreigner>

What were they thinking? I can sort of understand the elf-dwarf confusion at Xmastime, but anybody with an English-Japanese dictionary or access to the interwebs should be able to figure out pretty quickly that trolls don’t immediately conjure up images of jewelry-bestowing Prince Charmings. All I can figure out is that they must have hired this famous branding consultant to advise on the name:

Correction: Elizabeth’s comment below informs me that this is not an Only In Japan phenomenon! Apparently, Trollbeads are a global brand! So while it was still highly amusing to be trolled while being surrounded by unsuspecting Japanese commuters, all responsibility for the name rests securely with a Danish version of the consultant pictured above.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more



Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

4 thoughts on “Subway Trololo Leave a comment

  1. Maybe they used troll because trolls live under bridges and… collected jewels? I know the troll in Shadowgate wanted jewels…

  2. It’s not just Japan, they have them in the US too. Maybe the name connotes something different in Denmark, but it makes me laugh.

    • Thanks for the correction! It’s even funnier that they sell TROLLBEADS in the hotbed of trololo culture! Now I’m SURE my picture of the branding consultant is accurate…

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