Unintentionally Amusing Illustrations Found in Japanese Textbooks

Screencap from YouTube user hahaha douga

Screencap from YouTube user hahaha douga

All around the world, students have the ability to turn the textbook, the symbol of compulsory yet boring learning, into a thing of timeless amusement. Japan is no exception.

This was in a maternity textbook. So surreal!

On the Matome Naver website, users have taken to posting illustrations from various educational textbooks that range from unintentionally humorous to outright funny and surreal.

It’s clear they are meant to be taken seriously within the context of the textbook, but the Matome Naver community is delighting in demonstrating just how absurd textbook illustrations can be.

No sooner had I opened my textbook when I discovered whatever these eight guys are.

Some illustrations appear to intended to resemble world-famous celebrities:

If we're talking [funny textbook illustrations], I discovered this one during today's English lesson: Luciano Pavarotti. It's even supposed illustrate what a singer is!

Others seem to bear an unintentional resemblance to popular anime and manga icons:

All I can think of when I look at this textbook illustration is Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan].

The textbook illustration thread is very popular on Matome Naver, with over 700,000 views so far and over 900 users marking it as a ‘favorite.’

Matome Naver user amayasa, the creator of the thread, succinctly sums up the impact of these textbook illustrations:


Thanks to these illustrations, I'm unable to concentrate while studying, haha.

Japan is no stranger to the viral nature of textbook illustrations.

Earlier in June, publisher Sanseido KK recalled 10,000 grade one school textbooks after discovering the girl in the illustration possessed three arms (the third arm is resting on table, while the girl grips a basket in both hands). The publisher issued a public apology after children discovered the error:

Textbook illustration blooper! 10,000 textbooks recalled! Why does the publisher need to collect each and every one [and correct the mistake]? Who knows?

Furthermore, video game news site Kotaku covered student attempts to make textbook illustrations more interesting via doodling last year. Illustrations vary from homages to popular anime series to suggestive images not suitable for work or the classroom.

A doodle in the style of “Star Wars”

Even textbooks created for students outside of Japan, Japanese-language textbooks specifically, offer unintentional humour.

[Illustration explains the Japanese term chikan (groper) and the verb sawaru (to feel).]

Found in a Japanese textbook. Why an old man and a young man, I wonder…

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