Sometimes you'll be walking through a Japanese town and you'll come across an unusual marking on the side of a building. If you're a foreign visitor who doesn't speak the local lingo, 9 times out of 10, the "unusual markings" will just be a variant of Japanese or a commonly known symbol and the locals don't consider it unusual in the least. But there's always that one time out of ten when even Japanese visitors are perplexed.

Twitter user 味噌max misomax (@miso_max) was enjoying a visit to the coastal town of Chōshi in Chiba Prefecture when they came across this building. A closer look at the side of the building revealed what looks like a collection of wedge marks organized in a pyramid pattern.

misomax posted the photo in a viral Tweet which has 14,000 likes and 4,845 retweets at the time of writing:

"Apparently, this is a tofu shop"

Reproduced with permission from 味噌max misomax (@miso_max)

Take a closer look:

Reproduced with permission from 味噌max misomax (@miso_max)

Do you understand the play on words?


Here's a hint: They aren't just wedges, they're the katakana フ, which is pronounced fu


...are you still stumped?

Here's another hint: Count the number of フ...


...OK, time to spill the soybeans:

In Japanese, the number ten can also be pronounced .

So, all together, this is:

+ fu = tōfu

Sakakibara Tofu Shop

The establishment responsible for this witty sign is Sakakibara Tofu Shop 榊原豆腐店. Founded in Meiji 42 (1909), Sakakibara Tofu Shop has the distinction of being the easternmost tofu shop in the Kanto area. They're known for their flavorful and high-quality tofu products and in recent years, they've become famous for their soymilk pudding which they also sell at local markets and even convenience stores in Chiba Prefecture:

Misomax volunteered more information to us about the area and its charms:

"Tokawa village in Chōshi is a fishing town with a long history and it's quite picturesque..."

"To get there, you take the Chōshi Dentetsu 銚子電鉄 (The Choshi Electric Railroad), which is nice..."

"...and famous for the soft rice crackers called ぬれ煎餅 nuresembei (which you can buy along the line and at gift shops near the stations)..."

"You can also visit Byōbugaura (cliffs) nearby, which I recommend to tourists..."

"...I personally hope more people will visit the area."

By - Ben K.