JAPAN

Harley Davidson trying to cause offence?

One of our Observers in Japan, Lee Chapman, photographed this motorbike, complete with Swastika-shaped spokes, outside a Harley Davidson shop in Tokyo. Depending on how you look at it, it could represent the ancient Buddhist symbol for universal harmony, the infamous emblem of Nazi Germany, or, as Lee tells us, simply being "cool". Read more...

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One of our Observers in Japan, Lee Chapman, photographed this motorbike, complete with Swastika-shaped spokes, outside a Harley Davidson shop in Tokyo. Depending on how you look at it, it could represent the ancient Buddhist symbol for universal harmony, the infamous emblem of Nazi Germany, or, as Lee tells us, simply being "cool".

 

 

Lee has been living in Tokyo for ten years. He posted the photos on his blog, Tokyo Times, on Monday. 

Since posting this on my blog a few people have left comments saying that it's actually the Buddhist symbol the manji rather than the Nazi swastika. The idea doesn't really work though as it appears on a motorbike wheel. For one, to see the manji you could only look at it from the left side, and secondly, I don't think many Buddhist priests drive Harley Davidsons.

I do think there's nothing nasty in it however. Although it would indeed be found extremely offensive in many other parts of the world, here it's just seen as something cool; Hell's Angels' style from the ‘60s. My boss drives a Harley Davidson and when I told him about the bike he replied ‘Yeh, I've seen them around'. Nothing along the lines of ‘I know, isn't that terrible?'!"