How a Foul-Mouthed American Chef Brought "Fuckin" to Japan

After publishing this post about an Osaka department store hilariously advertising its "Fuckin sale," we got an email from Ron Silver, owner and chef of New York's Bubby's restaurant. "I feel personally responsible for this Fuckin Sale," he wrote. He attached a picture from the opening of Bubby's branch in Yokohama, Japan in 2009, where a sign advertised Bubby's Fuckin Fresh lemonade and Fuckin Fresh & Delicious food. Much to the surprise of visiting English-speaking tourists, Fuckin Fresh is the the unofficial slogan of Bubby's Japanese branch, printed on menus, signs and t-shirts.

"Fuckin Fresh" (sometimes written "Fucking Fresh") started as an inside joke about Silver's obsession with fresh produce. Silver said his Japanese employees weren't as accustomed to using fresh fruit, which is harder to come across in Japan. Lemons, for example, are astronomically more expensive, but Silver insisted they use fresh lemons for their lemonade.

"I trained these guys and trained these guys, and they called me up and said, 'By fresh do you mean frozen?' And I was like, 'I mean fucking fresh, man. Do not fuck around with this thing.'" Silver said in a phone interview, the frustration still audible in his voice. But they didn't get it.

"The very next day they were like, 'By fresh do you mean canned?' And I was like, 'What do you not understand about fucking fresh?'"

Silver's employees may have been fucking with him the whole time. They later surprised Silver by plastering Bubby's with the slogan "Fuckin Fresh," adopting it as their motto.

"It was like, alright you won my heart over," Silver said.

How a Foul-Mouthed American Chef Brought "Fuckin" to Japan

Now that we've established the presence of Fuckin as a marketing buzzword circa 2009 in Japan, how might it have made its way to Osaka? Maybe some department store marketing exec saw the long lines at Bubby's Fuckin Fresh restaurant and wanted to capture some of the Fuckin magic for himself. (Silver says the Yokohama branch has been a huge success; he's opening another in Tokyo next month.) Silver hypothesizes there was cross-pollination since both Osaka and Yokohama are home to military bases.

Though it could have been a coincidence. Decorative nonsensical English phrases are famously popular in Japan, and they apparently love to put the word "Fuck" on all sorts of stuff where it doesn't belong, including children's t-shirts.

Fuckin Japan.