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bike refurbish project: cultural sensitivity question

Old 11-19-14, 10:39 AM
  #1  
mrv 
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bike refurbish project: cultural sensitivity question

howdy!
I picked up a Nishiki frame/fork off C.L. for $25. It was in pretty rough shape paint-wise, so I've stripped it down to bear steel to powder cost after adding a couple of braze-ons (water bottle, rear rack, DT shifters, front fork rack).

It's going to be powder coated a dark-ish blue, and I want to add Nishiki labels to the D.T. and S.T., and a Japanese flag (rising sun) sticker to the H.T.
I'm not interested trying to duplicate the original decals, so I was going to go with a stereotypical (from an American perspective) font for the decals, like this: .

The bits on the bike are going to be a cool '80s 600 groupo, gum hoods, brown bar tape, Brooks Cambium seat, Nitto bars/stem, maybe Nitto seatpost if my wife doesn't take the credit card away from me. The goal would be to be about as completely Japanese as possible with the bike bits.

So my question: if a Japanese or other Asian person sees the font I'm using, would they have any reason to take offense? Would they just laugh about it?
If I have to ask, should I change the font to something more block-ish (boring, uninteresting, and plain)?
Is the font just plain ugly and I should choose something else, as I'll get tired of it in a year?

thanks for reading
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Old 11-19-14, 02:43 PM
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It was a Made up name created by a US Importer ..
doing a repaint ? why not just put Your name on it? it's your bike.
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Old 11-19-14, 03:41 PM
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I am not of Asian descent, so I don't really know how strongly your intended "branding" will bother anyone.

I have a Taiwan-made Nishiki (which they all were by mid-90's) and it has served me well. Given that, I would kind of laugh seeing one with the font style you propose. On the other hand, as was already said: it's your bike, do it if you want.

As for the rising sun symbol, if you really want more info, google "rising sun" and "offensive" or something like that. There is the odd discussion out there. Note that the rising sun symbol (with rays) is/was really a military symbol (including during WWII), while AFAIK the national flag (red sun disk without rays) is not taken quite the same way.
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Old 11-19-14, 03:57 PM
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Yea & Taiwan has a Different Flag Too..
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Old 11-19-14, 03:58 PM
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No matter what you do is going to offend someone. This is why we have art. I like your idea for the font, especially if done well, and can't imagine a huge uprising of people chasing you screaming racist if you ride through Chinatown. If they do, ride faster.
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Old 11-19-14, 04:19 PM
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Hmmm . . . a Japanese military flag and chopstick font on a Taiwanese bike being ridden through Chinatown . . . nope, I got nothin'
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Old 11-19-14, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by mrv View Post
howdy!
I picked up a Nishiki frame/fork off C.L. for $25. It was in pretty rough shape paint-wise, so I've stripped it down to bear steel to powder cost after adding a couple of braze-ons (water bottle, rear rack, DT shifters, front fork rack).

It's going to be powder coated a dark-ish blue, and I want to add Nishiki labels to the D.T. and S.T., and a Japanese flag (rising sun) sticker to the H.T.
I'm not interested trying to duplicate the original decals, so I was going to go with a stereotypical (from an American perspective) font for the decals, like this: .

The bits on the bike are going to be a cool '80s 600 groupo, gum hoods, brown bar tape, Brooks Cambium seat, Nitto bars/stem, maybe Nitto seatpost if my wife doesn't take the credit card away from me. The goal would be to be about as completely Japanese as possible with the bike bits.

So my question: if a Japanese or other Asian person sees the font I'm using, would they have any reason to take offense? Would they just laugh about it?
If I have to ask, should I change the font to something more block-ish (boring, uninteresting, and plain)?
Is the font just plain ugly and I should choose something else, as I'll get tired of it in a year?

thanks for reading
I wouldn't have thought a font could be considered racist, but there does appear to be some objections to using it.

Wonton font - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Is Your Font Racist? - Speakeasy - WSJ
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Old 11-19-14, 05:15 PM
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wow! - I had no idea there was such a thing as “unfortunate use of stereotypical typography,”
Thanks for the link - I think.
Maybe I'll take a different direction with the labeling. I'd like to have white panels on the DT and ST. I'd prefer not to have my name in the panels, as I'll ride it for a while then sell it, probably. Maybe label what it is: "dirt road bike" - if I do that, I'm sure I'll stumble across the contingent of people who love clean cars and hate dirt roads.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 11-19-14, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by GravelMN View Post
Hmmm . . . a Japanese military flag and chopstick font on a Taiwanese bike being ridden through Chinatown . . . nope, I got nothin'


Hey, it works for The Simpsons

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Old 11-19-14, 05:31 PM
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Good grief. First off, how many people would even know that the paint and decals aren't original? Second, who cares? If you like it, do it. Stop tiptoeing about worried if your font is offensive. Freedom of expression protects your right to make a bike tribute to the Holocaust. THAT would be offensive to most, but just fine for you to do if that was what you wanted (don't think it is, just an extreme example)
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Old 11-19-14, 06:38 PM
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The only person that would be offended by that bike, would be someone that is always looking for a reason to be offended.

It's your bike, put what you want on it.
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Old 11-19-14, 10:41 PM
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Political Correctness is destroying our civilization. Do what you want.
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Old 11-19-14, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mrv View Post
wow! - I had no idea there was such a thing as “unfortunate use of stereotypical typography,”

The most insensitive part about this is using a stereotyped "Chinese" font for a Japanese brand. That would be similar to using a stereotyped "Mexican" font on an American brand.
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Old 11-19-14, 11:30 PM
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I can't say if it is offense to anyone or not... although certainly someone somewhere is sure to be offended by just about anything. But Nashbar put a flag decal under the "Made in Japan" on my 80's road bike.

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Old 11-19-14, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mox View Post
Political Correctness is destroying our civilization. Do what you want.
If the OP is unable to slap non-original, non-period correct decals written in a generic Orientalist font onto his West Cost Cycle-imported frame, American culture as we know it will collapse. It is clear to me now.

On a serious note, in the grand scheme of things appropriating/reproducing Orientalist motifs against the Japanese and Japanese-Americans isn't that high on the list of injustices you can perpetrate. On the other hand, several people have already noted here the superfluity of what you're trying to do; there's no historic or monetary value in it, so what do YOU hope to get out of using these decals?
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Old 11-20-14, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by A10K View Post
, so what do YOU hope to get out of using these decals?
Excellent question!
My original goal for the whole project was to: 1. learn/practice brazing with the long term view of building my own bike frame in a year or two; 2. learn/practice how to powder coat while I have access (and motivation) to powder coating equipment; 3. Put together a good-looking, well riding, durable gravel/commuter/light touring bike.

So the decals are to help the "good looking" part of this project. I'd like to keep thing "fairly" close to '80s Japanese components (Shimano, Nitto). Although the pedals (platform Crank Bros) and the seat (Brooks Cambium) won't be anywhere near '80s stuff (or Japanese!) ....
So - good points mentioning it's a Taiwanese (Giant) frame speced by an American distributor who was looking for an inoffensive, easy to pronounce name. (HA! how 'bout that!)

So the decal really just needs to break up the tubes visually (I'm after a white back ground with some red). My thinking was the font (which is called "Ninja" at the DIY label website) would add a bit of humor to the whole deal. The more I double back and look at it, the less I'm liking it, so I'm kind of glad I started this thread. AND I didn't realize the font was used more for Chinese marketing (at least until recently...).

I've got a week or two before the powder is on the frame. I'll probably keep the name NISHIKI on the decal, unless someone posts something here that won't quickly get dated or annoying as I look at the bike. More than likely I'll stick with red lettering, outlined in blue, on a white background. Maybe pick some kind of font I don't think will look dated (if that's possible...).

Thanks for all the posts, suggestions, and discussions. If you have any ideas, let me know!
When the frames painted and labeled, I'll follow up with photos and wait for more feed back.
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Old 11-20-14, 09:58 AM
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Only white SJWs would care and say anything about it.
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Old 11-20-14, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mox View Post
Political Correctness is destroying our civilization. Do what you want.
a bit of an exaggeration, IMO. but it's damn annoying, nonetheless.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 11-20-14 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 11-20-14, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
a bit of an exaggeration, IMO. but it's damn annoying.
Yep.

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Old 11-20-14, 12:54 PM
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Believe it or not, sometimes what is politically correct is the right thing to do.
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Old 11-20-14, 01:33 PM
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But getting offended when you're being made fun of for nothing more than being uptight and easily offended isn't one of those.

Kinda like threatening to kill someone who calls you violent - you just helped make that point.
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Old 11-20-14, 03:16 PM
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I got a better idea while typing the last post (instead of working, like I'm supposed to....)
A local bike manufacturer has a head badge they use . I emailed them and they are willing to sell me one. So I'm going to order one up, and a t-shirt since they are selling me the badge just super cheap (I think), and let the head badge drive the decal styling cues.

Here's the companies website Detroit Bikes - they are doing an awesome thing building $700 3-spd cruisers here in Detroit.
The city needs decent jobs a lot of folks who struggle with the basics of high school.
- if you are able, please support!

Thanks for reading. Hopefully photos of a painted, decal'ed frame in a month or so.
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