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3 June 2012 (Seppuku or Recycle)

June 3, 2012

On our way to Jerusalem the other day, we stopped at a gas station for some iced coffee. We passed by a group of soldiers taking a break next to their jeep, and greeted the shop owner smoking a cigarette outside his door. As we wandered around in the store waiting for the owner, my ears perked up at the unmistakeable sound of my native language pouring out from the TV screen. As I looked up, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a samurai drama. It was very quick and over before I knew it.

If it wasn’t surprising enough to see a samurai drama on Israeli television, I was even more surprised to learn that what I saw was actually an Israeli commercial!

“But using existing Japanese footage, right?” was my immediate reaction.

“No, no, did you catch what the guy was saying? They specifically shot it for a commercial to promote recycling!” Yuval answered.

If you click on the video image above, it will link to the website where you can play the video (there was no embedding option). The lead actor seems genuinely Japanese, and the set and costumes aren’t bad. But a close viewing reveals that the commercial was definitely created with the Israeli audience in mind. While the lead actor’s Japanese sounds native, the script left in a few Hebrew words, making those parts of the dialogue totally incomprehensible to a Japanese native (unless they speak Hebrew, of course).

“You put cousbara (=cilantro in Hebrew) in my soba!” barks the samurai to the charged man, but offers forgiveness.

“But what I cannot forgive,” he continues, “is that you threw bottles in to the trash!!!”

After the charged man performs seppuku (ritual suicide) comes the grand punch line:

Bottles only go in the mihzurit (=recycle box in Hebrew)!!

I wrote in a post back in September 2010 about how shocked I was at the lack of environmental consciousness here in Israel, but this commercial gives me hope (and chuckles).











ヘブライ語がわからなかったら意味不明ですよね 笑


Much love,

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2012 11:48 pm

    What a strange idea for a campaign! Many Israelis I’ve confronted at work about not recycling bottles say that it makes no difference, isn’t worth the effort unless they get paid for each bottle (like in the U.S. and elsewhere), or that the company behind the recycling bins is corrupt and they don’t want to help them. Seems like it will take more than this commercial to change people’s minds, unfortunately.

    • June 4, 2012 7:26 pm

      That’s a real bummer about your former co-workers’ responses! I had a similar impression of Israelis and recycling until I started working at my current job. My boss’s husband is in charge of recycling bottles in the kibbutz (not sure he gets paid for it or not) and kibbutz members are bringing in bottles for him all the time. I don’t know if this is because they know someone else will deal with their bottles as long as they bring them in, but I see a lot more recycling being practiced than I used to. In regards to the recycling company possibly being corrupt, well, I must admit that may be a possibility unfortunately!

  2. June 6, 2012 7:56 pm

    I’ve met one of the men in the commercial in Israel (he’s married to an Israeli woman), so I can only assume that the others live here as well.
    By the way, some Israelis do recycle – I recycle paper and plastic. 🙂

    • June 7, 2012 5:14 pm

      Hi Yael! I’m impressed to learn that the commercial was most likely shot in Israel!

      And I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I think Israelis don’t recycle – not my intention at all 🙂

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