Weird Ask: Calling out for smooth jazz fusion fans skilled in Japanese?
December 7, 2021 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm a huge Steely Dan fan and wish to make an art print shirt based on this really weathered (but very cool) Japanese cassette of the classic Steely Dan album Aja.

I just need to get "clean" kanji that I can use to design the piece and I don't want to make the mistake of misrepresenting any of the characters.
Anyone have any tips or perhaps skill with Kanji who might want to help?
posted by Senor Cardgage to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe post this in Jobs?
posted by nkknkk at 9:59 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ooh good idea
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:59 AM on December 7, 2021

Best answer: Wikipedia to the rescue. The work has already been done.

The title of the album is "彩" but that character is very stylized. You're not going to find a commercial typeface that has exactly that calligraphic style, although that's probably sharp enough that you could outline it in Illustrator and get good results.

Here's the track listing:

Side 1
ブラック・カウ - Black Cow - 5:10
彩(エイジャ) - Aja - 7:57
ディーコン・ブルース - Deacon Blues - 7:37
Side 2
ペグ - Peg - 3:57
安らぎの家 - Home at Last - 5:34
アイ・ガット・ザ・ニュース - I Got the News - 5:06
ジョージー - Josie - 4:33

The name of the band is in bold below the track listing: スティーリー・ダン

That's followed by a copyright notice that's been partly obliterated. My guess is that it's supposed to say 著作権者から 無断で複製することは法律で禁じられています 。(reproduction without authorization from the copyright holder is forbidden).

Next line is 売元 日本コロムビア株式会社 MADE IN JAPAN
posted by adamrice at 11:46 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Quick caveat that I'm neither a native speaker nor fluent, but I can read a little bit, and with the help of this Japanese wikipedia article, can may be help

In the upper right corner, underneath "ABC Records", I think it says "歌詞カード付" (lyrics card included). I'm definitely making a bit of an inference on the second part, because it's a little bit blurry or damaged, but this is a phrase I see on other cassette tapes and cd packaging

The large character in red appears to be a stylized "彩" (coloring, paint, makeup) which wasn't obvious to me at first but I'm assuming from wikipedia

The tracklisting appears to be the same as what's here. I won't bother reproducing in here, but can confirm its the same. There's two subtleties I would suggest being careful with if you're going to reproduce this: making sure to include the correct dakuten on the katakana characters for the song titles, which would be a bit of an obvious mistake to anyone who can read katakana and knows the songs. Also, above the single character for the second track is the furigana "エイジャ" (eija, I assume referring to Aja). This isn't actually the reading in Japanese, so I assume there's something going on here that would make more sense to a native reader/Steely Dan fan

In large white characters underneath the tracklisting is "スティーリー・ダン" the name of the band in katakana

Underneath that is the following, with *s around characters I can't quite make out with high confidence, and am making a guess on based on context. A clear picture might help to look it up by stroke count, but I think this phrase is basically "All rights reserved"

から 無*断*で*複製*することは法律で禁じられています

無断-without permission

Underneath that (to the left of Made in Japan) is:

発売元-original seller
日本コロムビア株式会社-Nippon Columbia corporation

On preview, adamrice has already provided most of it, but I will post as maybe the extra breakdown helps
posted by okonomichiyaki at 11:49 AM on December 7, 2021

Response by poster: I love you all. I was going to post this to jobs over lunch. Thanks so much!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:54 AM on December 7, 2021

That oval logo near the bottom was bugging me. It looks like it is (or was) the logo for the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers

A clearer view of the logo
posted by adamrice at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2021

I would probably, no kidding, buy one of those shirts, and so would a Dan-loving friend of mine.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:53 PM on December 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

Here to concur with (eponysterical) Dr. Wu that I would totally buy at least one of these t shirts!
posted by little mouth at 3:45 PM on December 7, 2021

Japanese speaker and fellow fan of Steely Dan here. :)

I don't have leads on how to find the fonts and so on, but I can tell you that it'd be easier to have a Japanese speaker "proofread" your work rather than tell you beforehand all the rules and common mistakes that trip up non-speakers.

It can get especially complicated when it involves something creative or artsy, as with the title in this case (they "translated" Aja by using a kanji that is often a girl's name but is not usually read as Aja but the katakana in this case instructs you that it's read as Aja...).

As someone else said upthread, most of the typefaces in that image are either stylized or non-standard in some way. I'm guessing the title kanji was designed to match the original cover (red, slashy letters). The most "standard"-looking font is the one for Steely Dan. Even the track list uses a somewhat chunky or round-looking typeface that looks...iono, vintage? 70s?

If you'd like proofreading--I'd be happy to chime in (if I'm around once you have a design draft). I've also seen people post to r/translator and have speakers check for mistakes or unnatural-ness.

If you'd like design or graphic art help--I could refer you to a Japanese-speaking artist who has recently done some work for another mefite...
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 4:48 PM on December 7, 2021

I'm also in if these shirts are ever something you plan to sell.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:08 PM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older when to give notice   |   Yet another "travelling in the time of Covid"... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments