February 13, 2012
It sounded like a good idea
Taken offense takes many forms. Japanese very often simply do not get the English concept of "vulgarity" as it relates to language, hilariously illustrated here. And for reasons other than meanings getting lost in translation.
Take the ubiquitous kuso. It translates as "(bull)crap" or "(bull)shit," depending on whether it's uttered by a kid or a gangster. Why, a Japanese might logically ask, have two words that mean exactly the same thing?
Though if you're referring to what bears do in the woods, it's fun (rhymes with "spoon").
As Peter Payne points out, only the "c" word is guaranteed to be bleeped. Widely self-censored is the old word (穢多) for Japan's feudal outcasts, which has since gone through a rigorous "euphemism treadmill."
(A fascinating parenthetical about the evolution of the latter can be found here.)
I saw a interview with Brad Pitt on NHK, accompanied by an excerpt from Moneyball that included several expletives the FCC would frown upon. Nothing was bleeped. (Often true of foreign coverage involving bleep-worthy expletives.)
Why should they be? There's nothing intrinsically offensive about a collection of phonemes (as opposed to certain bodily noises). Japanese are drawn to them for the same reason NBA stars tattoo kanji on their forearms.
Because it's cool!
In this case, the phonemes were intended as an (all things considered, pretty clever) alliterative pun on fukubukuro ("lucky bag"). A fukubukuro is a grab bag of overstocked items sold at a steep discount on New Year's Day.
More about pronouns