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 Beauty is more than skin deep, right? After all, the most beautiful people in the world aren't always the most photogenic. 

Keep this in mind as I introduce a very famous FujiFilm commercial.

Before we do, the Japanese word for commercial is CM. That's right, it's two letters pronounced シーエム. You can see currently popular Japanese CM here. If you've never seen Japanese TV (with commercials -- Netflix is cheating), they can be quite creative and entertaining. 

FujiFilm was the Kodak of Japan.

If you are too young to know what the words "film" and "Kodak" are, don't worry. I'm here to help.

Film is what goes into a camera so you can take a photo and Kodak was probably the brand you used -- unless you were in Japan... in which case, you probably used FujiFilm.

Film looked like this:

And before you ask how in the world you could fit that thing inside your iPhone, well, back in the day, iPhones looked like this:

And these "iPhones" couldn't make a phone call. You couldn't even surf the web or stream anime on Netflix with or without subtitles.

Okay. Enough of "old people know stuff and them youngin's ain't got a clue" silliness.

In order to show everyone that I'm just as rad as any Gen Zer, I'm going to make a Japanese lesson out of a 1980 TV commercial!

Hmmm... 1980... seems like it was just yesterday. 

(Actually, that sounds like a long time ago even for me...)

Stick with me here. I know what I'm doing.

For the most part.

Anyway, first watch the 1980 commercial and then we'll take apart the dialogue:

The commercial stars 樹木希林(きききりん) as the customer and 岸本加世子(きしもとかよこ) as the store clerk. If you are a Makoto+ Shogun or Lifetime member (or bought the Japanese Names course), click here to learn more about 樹木希林(きききりん) and click here to learn about 岸本加世子(きしもとかよこ).

Here's the dialogue written out. Read through it while playing the video again. Mouseover any kanji to see the furigana. See if you can follow along and then we'll break it down together.

Store Clerk: いらっしゃいませ。

Customer: あのう、これ、プリント、フジカラーでお(ねが)いします。

Store Clerk: できあがりは、明日(あした)夕方(ゆうがた)になります。

Customer: お見合(みあ)写真(じゃしん)なものですから、(とく)(うつく)しく。

Store Clerk: フジカラープリントでしたら、(うつく)しい(ひと)はより(うつく)しく、そうでない(かた)は、

Customer: そうでない場合(ばあい)は?

Store Clerk: それなりに(うつ)ります。

Customer: それなりに、ですか・・・それなりに・・・

Store Clerk: お客様(きゃくさま)。お名前(なまえ)は?

Customer: 綾小路(あやのこうじ)だけど。(うら)の。小百合(さゆり)()らなかった?

The Actresses

Before we dive into the language, it would be good to become familiar with the names of both actresses since they are very famous in Japan.

The customer was 樹木希林(きききりん) and she did many FujiFilm commercials over the years. Her name is easy to remember. Kiki Kirin. (just keep saying "ki" until you get to "rin". 

The store clerk is 岸本加世子(きしもとかよこ) who went on to star in many dramas and movies. 

If you are a Makoto+ Shogun or Lifetime member (or bought the Japanese Names course), click here to learn more about 樹木希林(きききりん) and click here to learn about 岸本加世子(きしもとかよこ). We'll see Tanaka Rena (田中麗奈(たなかれな)) at the bottom, so click here for her too

BTW, all Makoto+ Shogun or Lifetime members get unlimited access to all our online Japanese courses including the Japanese Names course. Click here to learn more or take the plunge and become a lifetime member. We'll be adding even more content to the course shortly.

Breaking Down the Lines

This CM is kind of like a manzai skit. 樹木希林(きききりん) and 岸本加世子(きしもとかよこ) had a natural rhythm that makes it both charming and memorable. 

Store Clerk: いらっしゃいませ。

How can I help you?

Vocabulary & Notes

Customer: あのう、これ、プリント、フジカラーでお(ねが)いします。

Excuse me, but could I have this printed in Fujicolor, please?

Vocabulary & Notes

Store Clerk:できあがりは、明日(あした)夕方(ゆうがた)になります。

It will be ready by tomorrow evening.

Vocabulary & Notes


It's for a matchmaking photo, so please make it especially beautiful.

Vocabulary & Notes

Store Clerk:フジカラープリントでしたら、(うつく)しい(ひと)はより(うつく)しく、そうでない(かた)は、

With Fujicolor prints, beautiful people will look even more beautiful, and for those who aren't...

Vocabulary & Notes

Customer: そうでない場合(ばあい)は?

In the case they aren't…?

Vocabulary & Notes

Store Clerk :それなりに(うつ)ります。

They will look accordingly.

Vocabulary & Notes


Accordingly, huh... accordingly...

Vocabulary & Notes

Store Clerk:お客様(きゃくさま)。お名前(なまえ)は?

May I have your name, please?

Vocabulary & Notes

Customer: 綾小路(あやのこうじ)だけど。(うら)の。小百合(さゆり)()らなかった?

It's Ayanokoji, from just around the corner. Sayuri. You didn’t know my name?

Vocabulary & Notes

Interestingly, it was 樹木希林(きききりん) who came up with the famous line. Originally, the script writers had something like: "Those who are not beautiful remain not beautiful." The subtle それなりに not only makes this gag inoffensive, but it also adds a charm that many Japanese (of a certain age) still remember today.

About それなりに

Japanese love to use ambiguous language. それなりに is kind of like that and is therefore the hardest part to translate. 

それなりに is a Japanese expression that can be translated as "in its own way," "to a certain extent," "respectively," or "as it is." It is used to describe something that has its own qualities, value, or level, even though it may not be considered the best or ideal. In other words, it indicates that something is decent, passable, or satisfactory in its context, without necessarily being outstanding or exceptional.

The clerk is explaining to the customer that while FujiFilm can help, it can't work miracles. I chose to translate it as "accordingly" which I think captures a little bit of the ambiguous nuance. But what do you think? Leave your comments below. How should this be translated?

The Remake

As Paul McCartney sang of old Sgt. Pepper "It was twenty years ago today..." Likewise, FujiFilm revisited this gag 20 years later (2000) but this time they added the beautiful Tanaka Rena (田中麗奈(たなかれな)) to the lineup. Three generations with an updated slang word added to the mix.

First, watch the updated version. Skip to around time mark 1:01:

Whahaha! If you noticed, the dialogue was changed around while keeping the meaning mostly the same, but 田中麗奈(たなかれな) added one new word. 


super-; ultra-; hyper-; extreme

(ちょう)それなりに - VERY accordingly.

When I arrived in Japan in 1998, this was a fairly new slang word added to just about anything to make it "-er" or "more" whatever. The Japanese teacher (吉田先生(よしだせんせい)!) who was assigned to keep me straight as a new JET English teacher warned me to never say (ちょう). Yumi, as a radio DJ was not allowed to use it on air also. 

It's pretty much standard Japanese now, but back in 2000, it was trendy.

Adding (ちょう) to それなりに makes it 超面白(ちょうおもしろ)い (very interesting)!

Final Thoughts

Usually, TV commercials speak to viewers directly from the advertiser's perspective, but this commercial was groundbreaking in that it maintains a cynical, third-person perspective that teases the audience.

Most Japanese know and love this commercial and the それなりに phrasing. My friend who is in his thirties knew about this commercial (probably the one from 2000). I would say the vast majority of Japanese over thirty would know about this commercial and 「それなりに」.  Try using it with your Japanese friends (even younger ones) and see how they react.

Unfortunately, 樹木希林(きききりん) passed away in 2018. There won't be another version in 20 years...

If you are not yet a Makoto+ member, why not become one and get tons of content to help you learn Japanese. Click here for a free trial or save big with our limited time lifetime offer.

  • Growing up we had a film camera almost identical to the one in the picture. Fuji is a big name in Brazil. 😍 I lost the track of time in the CM website. 😂

    • Haha. Yes, it’s scary and funny how quickly things change. I’ve been too busy so far, but I’m also looking forward to losing track of my time with that CM website.

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