A friend sent this to me and I thought it too funny / horrible / ridiculous not to share with all of you. During WWII, a particularly racist day and age, there existed a “Pocket Guide To China” which were given to American soldiers stationed in China at the time. Because Japan was in China, there was a section in there called “How To Spot A Jap.” I would like to show it to you now.

It starts with a nice little intro page (lots of wasted black ink!). Then there’s some Mandarin in there to help you out. “nee EE YAH!oo SHEHM-muh? waw UH yoh OH S YAHNG YEHN!”

how to spot a jap 1

It starts with a couple of Asians getting picked up by a patrol. They look similar… or do they? Let’s check out their faces.

how to spot a jap 2

C’mon. Buck teeth? Also, maybe they “shuffle” because they’ve learned how to walk properly.

how to spot a jap 3

Okay, I could maybe see the geta thing, at least back then… The S-hissing thing is also kind of true, though not to the extent this makes it out to be. Still, something interesting I never thought about, I suppose.

how to spot a jap 4

I would say most prisoners shouldn’t be trusted. Also, is this the origin of the fanny pack? Do all Japanese tourists have a “Guardian of Honor” on them? I better watch out for those camera toting, high-socks fanny pack wearing Japanese seniors. Also, what are “comic strip gadgets?” Go-go-gadget pistol!

how to spot a jap 6

A nice little s-s-sss-sumary, and a reminder that the Japanese have tricked the Chinese even (omg). Be careful out there, soldier!

how to spot a jap 6

This comic was drawn up by Milton Caniff who is known for doing “Terry and the Pirates.” While it’s not particularly the type of thing you’d want associated to your name nowadays, these were definitely different times.

I’m hesitant to say that this book is “horrible” or “wrong” (it was), but it was probably a necessity of the times. Everyone stereotyped and got all racist because that’s the kind of war it had become. Almost nothing about WWII was good, but it’s also hard to get upset at something like this, I think. If anything, it’s a nice reminder of how far we’ve really come. For one thing, most people don’t use the word “Jap” anymore. I know people say “oh that’s racist” or “don’t stereotype” all the time these days still but wow, just think about how things were only 70 years ago. The US was putting people in camps for being Japanese, Japanese were forcing Koreans and Chinese into labor camps, and Nazis were being Nazis. It was pretty bad to say the least. Also, segregation only officially ended in 1964. That was like… not that long ago. At this rate in another 50 years the people of earth will be one big happy rainbow.

So, there’s your entertainment for the day. Be sure to share this information with your friends and family. You never know when you’ll need to know this information. They could still be out there, sneaking, pretending to be one of us… fanny packs, man. Fanny packs.

  • Amy

    Wow to think people that stupid existed and still do.. xD

  • kuyaChristian

    Kinda interesting when my Japanese friend from Japan abbreviated Japanese with ‘Jap’. I kinda hesitated a bit when I read it in messages. But oh well.

  • ジョサイア

    I might be hard if you had never seen a “Jap”

  • Brittney Howdyshell

    Koichi, I have to respectfully disagree with the “we’ve come a long way” statement. We have always, and likely always will, viewed the “enemy” as a caricature. We dehumanize them to make it easier to do things like drop the a-bombs, or decimate an entire village (including women and children). We are currently doing this to people in the Middle East. I live in the South, so it is probably much worse down here, but I rarely go a day without hearing the words “A-rabs” or “rag-heads.” I have even heard people say things like “we should just bomb the whole Mid-east.” Just sayin’, we will always find a way to make murdering people easier.

  • koichi

    I agree we’re not there yet, and you’re probably right that different areas are more tolerant than others (PNW = ♥s and rainbows, apparently), but I still think things are way better than they were 70 years ago. Not necessarily “good” now, but very, very different.

    But yeah – – – I’m afraid to go to the deep South :S

    Whoops, there I go stereotyping again… hehhe.

  • Ryoji Otani

    But koichi why the G-strings?

    I’m sorry but this is funny. I understand that it was during WW2 and this would have served as propaganda for both the Americans and their allied forces, but I still wonder was this booklet supposed to help the Chinese as well, and by that I mean was it supposed to give them a boost of superiority to keep them as our allies while we back stabbed them?

    anyways great post.

  • SaraWyatt

    Oh, is that why my first and second toes are set apart- I wore geta in my childhood? Good thing I have a waistline or they might suspect me!

  • American-jin

    I heard they have a spy trying to promote their code-like language using a SRS method. Watch out, guys!

  • Reptic

    It’s really easy to condemn this kind of stuff, but when you’re a simple American infantry soldier out there, on some random island facing an unknown and historically ruthless enemy, you’d probably cling onto any racist stereotypes you could too. I’ve heard stories from old relatives, and frankly I think I’d rather be fighting in Europe than Asia at that time. It was truly scary what they went through. Though it’s hard to imagine now the Japanese being our enemies, at the time if you were an American soldier in the pacific they would try to kill you, simple as that, no matter how you felt about them . And that’s where all the propaganda and racist stuff came from — genuine fear.

  • HatsuHazama

    I kind of doubt it helped the Chinese. With the level of detail this book goes into, I can imagine that the Americans prisoned just as many Chinese mistaking them for Japanese.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Incidentally, this book was also published in Japan under the title “Features to Look For When Choosing a Spy.”

  • luscher

    it is easy to look back and call them stupid. doing so makes us feel superior – and who doesn’t like that ? but for the most part these were farm boys (the city kids were just as limited experientially, but were so in a developed urban environment)

    in the 1800’s a local paper ran an advertisement for a local barber shop. they had recently hired a black man and the citizens were advised to come in and see him. despite having many local underground railroad routes, few black people were ever seen in this area. ”handy with a broom and brush” the ad oddly claimed. ”he’s a genuine coon”, it continued. rather than searching for some unintended offence, the young man enjoyed being a celebrity and made good money working *with* – not for – the barber. racist ? if you think being curious about something you’ve never seen before is racist then you might want to talk to sideshow performers. they made (and some continue to make) a living off being so unusual as to generate a strong curiosity in the general public

    many of the young U.S. servicemen drafted in WWI had never been away from their home. most of them (as in much of human history) were born, lived and died within a radius of a few miles : agrarian self-sufficiency requires you to be home every day to feed the chickens, milk the cows, etc.. the army had to train them in nearly everything — hygiene, maintenance, reasoning (common sense) … and then they were shipped off. their ancestors might have come from somewhere else, but most men in this isolationist behemoth called America were simply inexperienced – to the extreme – in many, many ways

    WWII was only a little better as cities had grown, compulsory education was extended, and movies (and therefore news reels) became fairly common. for the first time people were _seeing_ things they would never see otherwise. The Chicago World’s Fair was the first time big-city folk saw ”exotic” attractions and entertainment from many, many distant lands. stupid ? no, just inexperienced city slickers

    not that many years ago i lived in Korea. if i went into Seoul with a black buddy we knew there was a chance that someone would walk up to him, wipe his face with a finger, then inspect the finger to see if any color had come off. were they stupid ? not really, just inexperienced – if i saw a green alien i might behave similarly. after the initial shock, most of my friends just laughed about it ; they were JUST THAT SPECIAL !

    a few years ago when Chinese citizens began taking vacations for the first time (having recently moved to new cities after generations of living on farmlands with severely limited educational and employment opportunities), the government issued advisories about how to behave. were they stupid ? no, just inexperienced

    when our armed forces invaded Iraq, officers instructed the men under their command to behave in a calm, reserved, professional manner … ”as if they did it every day” (i won’t comment on that) so that they wouldn’t be seen worldwide on CNN ‘hooping and-a hollerin’ and waiving U.S. flags all over the place. were they stupid ? no, many enlisted men today are recruited from less advantaged families and communities, as in the past : they’re just inexperienced

    people today are no different than any other time in history. only people who don’t know or refuse to accept history dispute that. some want to believe they have ‘evolved to a highly enlightened position’. every previous generation thought that as well …

    here’s something for us to reflect on — how do you imagine we will be viewed in the future ? my guess is that we will be remembered as the most short-sighted, ego-centric, environmentally-antagonistic, wasteful people in history. with any luck fossil fuel shortages will prevent written history from being properly maintained, and we will simply be forgotten rather than characterized as licentious villains

  • Raymond Chuang

    I think people have to remember this type of thing was created in a much less-enlightened time when talking about foreigners.

    Indeed, if you have a chance to look at the Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1930’s to late 1940’s, much of the tone was blatantly racist, though at the time those stereotypes were widely accepted as the norm.

  • Jirugi

    I’m not gonna lie. The G-String thing is..funny lol

  • Jon

    I find old racist propaganda hilarious, especially when it doesn’t make any sense.

  • 死んだカエル

    My old high school was an interment camp during the war. My history teacher would tell us old stories of how anyone that looked Asian would be captured and placed there. They really didn’t give a sh*t about “facial characteristics,” if you looked Asian, you were going in.

  • 死んだカエル

    I meant, internment


    I was told my grandpa that “they” said you can tell them apart by telling them a joke, if they laugh, it’s a Chinaman, if they don’t, they’re a Jap. (Apologies for the language). It was all such silly rubbish.

  • Kikkomaso

    This reminds me of the native American “code-talkers” who helped in WWII. Since so many Japanese could speak English, the Americans needed a good way of converting their radio messages into code so they wouldn’t be understood if they got intercepted by the Japanese. But writing and converting something into code takes ages, and doesn’t work in hot situations, like in the middle of a battle. Cue the code-talkers.

    These guys spoke their own native language in America, and it was complete incomprehensible to outside ears (and had never been taught to non-natives, let alone to any Japanese). They got a whole bunch of these guys and assigned them to do the radio messages between various groups of people on the battlefield. It was a huge success. No-one ever decoded their language, and it worked perfectly.

    Except, of course, for the racism. Native Americans look more Asian than whiteys, so the code-talkers, between saving countless lives on a daily basis, were subjected to strip searches, detainment, beatings, etc. whenever anyone new met them, because they assumed they were Japanese. Or at least Asian. And to the Americans in WWII, Asian = bad. Blanket statements are easier to apply, after all. A lot of the men who worked with the code-talkers on a daily basis still didn’t trust them because “they just didn’t look right.”

    But well done to those guys for putting up with dreadful–and frankly, stupid to the point of unbelievable–racism. They helped out a lot. I know I wouldn’t have been so keen to help a bunch of guys like that.

  • Kate

    It’s really true that we’ve come a long way.

    But we have a long way to go.

    For example: my husband and I were legally able to get married (different race = not legal until 40 years ago), but we couldn’t find a place to live due to the whole foreign surname thing. I sent in applications to several rental properties, but none called back. A week later I sent off identical applications but with my maiden (and Anglo) surname. Surprise! 8 out of 11 places called within hours.

    Officially, of course, we aren’t a racist country anymore. Places can always claim that there was something else on the application they didn’t like that made them decide not to consider you. But it is quite obvious, as in many other situations for us (job applications, healthcare, etc. have all pulled nearly identical stunts), that if your surname sounds vaguely foreign, you get worse treatment. Trouble is, since officially we aren’t racist apparently, a lot of people don’t really know about how bad it is. And I don’t think it’s that much better than 70 years ago. The first step to fixing something is admitting it, as they say. I don’t like that we portray ourselves as not racist, since it means that racism won’t get much better.

    Here’s hoping we’ll all be rainbows and smiles and all the rest of it one day.

    Or, you know, change the discrimination so that instead of being unfairly biased against race, we are (not quite as much) unfairly biased against racists. Racistist? Yeah, we need that. Racistception.

  • Sar Chasm

    I used to watch old Bugs Bunny videos at my grandparents’ house when I was small (3-4 years old). Looking back, they were shockingly racist. I thought that the Japanese were another anthropomorphic animal, since they looked so non-human and weird (and oh the humungous teeth!). I also ending up thinking that Nazis were a kind of bird for a short while there too.

    But I grew up okay, I think. I’m not that racist. Because, y’know, I can tell me my Japs and Chinese apart real good. It’s all about the buck teeth. Oh, and the g-strings. Never forget those. Yep. Not racist.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Sounds like an evil scheme “they” came up with so that people would laugh at their jokes.

  • milos81


  • Mariana

    I think they’ve got the skin colour part wrong :P

  • “J”

    s-s-s-so I mus-s-st s-s-say “raraparooza”?

  • ZXNova

    I have to say, this stereotypical “Japanese” person looks more tougher then the Chinese person.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Yeah, you don’t want to mess with that stubble.

  • Cam Abi

    As far as features and buckteeth and whatnot I don’t think that is even recognizable in Japanese anymore! Besides the fact now that some Japanese men tend to get pretty tall! That and they have a pretty well set waisline. I guess in the old days it did use to be like that though. Is it perhaps the food or the fact that foregners came in I wonder?

  • CelestialSushi

    That racism in the Looney Tunes cartoons is exactly why they had Whoopi Goldberg walk onscreen on some of the DVD sets and talk about how those cartoons were wrong back then, and are today, but we can’t change our history (I’d put quotes on that but I don’t think I wrote it exactly… still, pretty close to what she said). I’m guessing people were getting tired of having to sit through that PSA so on the newer DVD sets they just have a text notice about the racism.

  • Emi

    I remember seeing this a few years ago. I think the book, or poster belonged to my grandfather. I can’t see that he would’ve used it, because he respected everyone, no matter what race or religion.

  • MikuFan1

    wow. that was… interesting.

  • Mariana

    The Americans in this book don’t look American

  • koichi


    That is pretty sad

  • koichi

    Hahaha, I laughed at that… must be the white in me…

  • koichi

    Dyamn, you must have an old high school

  • koichi

    yuppers, agreed

  • koichi

    dun dun dunnnn… er… I mean… 団 団 団….

  • koichi

    Yeah, I get Japanese friends who do that too. I just figure it’s like the N-word where Japanese people can say Jap? I have no idea. SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO BEHAVE

  • koichi

    And will continue to exist forever and ever into the future

  • koichi

    As soon as we get over being racist with each other aliens will arrive… then we’ll be all racist about aliens. Mark my words…

  • koichi

    ariba ariba andale andale!

  • koichi

    dat milk mang, dat milk

  • koichi

    omg… Nazis!

  • Jonadab

    Have you seen Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips? Yeah, there were some stereotypes during the war. The thing that upsets me most about our conduct in WWII is the way we treated Japanese Americans. That was entirely inexcusable. Treating actual prisoners of war with prejudice, in an actual war zone, is… well, okay, not good, but at least much more understandable.

    Also: my toes have larger gaps between them than the ones pictured, and I’ve never worn thong sandals in my life, and all sixteen of my great-great grandparents were caucasian.

    As far as testing for Japanese linguistic background… “Hi, my name is Sargeant Shibboleth, and these are my friends Lieutenant Earl and Private Leonard. We’d like you to call us each by name whenever you speak to us. Ok?” (Although, I’m not certain Koreans would have passed that one either.)

  • AkiKaza

    No, you’re right. I’m from the deep South and even I’m afraid of it :( It’s really bad…

  • Bill Newman

    Yuck! This is awful! :-(

  • AB

    Well, you sure as hell wouldn’t want to fight the Finnish either.

    Look at the causualties section.. Finland lost 25-30 tanks, russia lost…. : 3543(!)

    Glad Japan and Finland wasn’t allies during WW2..

    Sure glad they were fighting for us too (Norway)

  • Rick Lott

    Hello Kitty have cryptic messages inside the belly.You have to break them to get to it, only in time of dire straights….

  • Dick H

    Not just Japanese-Americans. Italian- and German-Americans were interned, too.

  • David Siepel

    “Jap” is about as racist as “Scot” for a Scotsman is…pull you head out of you ass. Even “Nip” is short for “Nippon” on older name for Japan, the only one whos racist here is the author