Turning Japanese

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Turning Japanese"
Standard European artwork
Single by The Vapors
from the album New Clear Days
B-side"Talk Talk"
LabelUnited Artists Records
Songwriter(s)David Fenton
Producer(s)Vic Coppersmith-Heaven
The Vapors singles chronology
"Turning Japanese"
"News at Ten"
Audio sample

"Turning Japanese" is a song by English band the Vapors, from their 1980 album New Clear Days. It was an international hit, becoming the song for which the Vapors are best known.

The lyric describes the narrator being separated from a woman he loves and thus preoccupied with photos of her. The song prominently features an Oriental riff played on guitar.


Songwriter David Fenton explains that the song "is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn't expect to."[3]

The band suspected they would score a hit with "Turning Japanese", even delaying its release in order to make it their second single, hoping to avoid becoming "one-hit wonders". Nonetheless, they never matched the single's success.[4] In Australia, it spent two weeks at No. 1 during June 1980.[5]

The music video was directed by Russell Mulcahy.[6]

American pop culture misinterpretation[edit]

The repeated lyrical refrain of "I think I'm turning Japanese" was widely believed by American audiences to describe an orgasm induced by masturbating, but in fact was intended to describe teen angst or alienation after a romantic breakup.[3]


Kirsten Dunst recorded a cover, with an accompanying video filmed (for two and a half days at the end of August 2009) in Tokyo, Japan.[7]

The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1997 movie Beverly Hills Ninja covered by the band The Hazies.[8]

On the Canadian sketch comedy series Second City Television, Rick Moranis performed a lounge-style version of the song as the character Tom Monroe.[9]

Chart performance[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mason, Stewart. "Turning Japanese – Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Charts.nz – The Vapors – Turning Japanese". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Turning Japanese by the Vapors". Songfacts. Retrieved 4 April 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Davis, Andy. "On the Vapor-trail". Parengstrom.com. Retrieved 23 June 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 320. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ Dendle, first (2012). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, Volume 2: 2000-2010. McFarland & Company. p. 168.
  7. ^ Schuker, Lauren A. E. (2 October 2009). "The Artist and the Director". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Where There's Smoke". Billboard. Vol. 109 no. 4. 25 January 1997. p. 27. ISSN 0006-2510.
  9. ^ "Rick Moranis' Classic Cover of 'Turning Japanese' on SCTV (VIDEO)". HuffPost. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0274." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Vapors". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  13. ^ a b "The Vapors – Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013.
  14. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending NOVEMBER 29, 1980". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Songs from the Year 1980". TsorT. Retrieved 27 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Top 100 Singles". RPM. Vol. 34 no. 6. 20 December 1980. Retrieved 17 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "UK Singles of the Year" (PDF). Record Mirror. London. 27 December 1980. p. 30. Retrieved 17 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1981". RPM. Vol. 35 no. 22. Retrieved 25 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]