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McDonald’s in Japan

By Asian American in Tokyo | May 27, 2007

Recognize the guy in the image below? Notice he’s promoting “Hello Kitty” products in a showcase.

Here’s a hint – he’s the famous owner of a popular chain of fast-food restaurants. Think you know the answer? Guess again. His name isn’t “Ronald McDonald”. It’s “Donald McDonald”. That’s right. Our favorite burger-pushing celebrity has a different name in Japan. I’m not sure if it’s the definitive answer, but I’ve heard that his name was localized for ease of pronounciation changed due to the Japanese difficulty with the English “R” sound. Here’s a look at one of his establishments in Shibuya, Tokyo.

As the head of a very successful global business, he knows to keep a standard set of items guaranteed to be found in any McDonald’s restaurant worldwide (such as the “Big Mac”) but to really thrive you need to reach out to the locals. For example, here’s the “EBI Filet-O” which is essentially a “shrimp burger”. Naturally, this is targeted at Japanese tastes as you won’t find this on the menu in America.

But Ron… er, Donald’s genius doesn’t end there. He’s hired super popular Japanese model Yuri Ebihara to promote the Ebi Filet-O. Known affectionately in Japan as “Ebi-chan”, the combination works wonders.

McDonald’s most recent product offering is the “Mega Mac”, which has been tremendously successful in Japan. This burger sports the most calories of any Japanese fast food burger, and I can totally see it succeeding in America too. What do you think?

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Topics: Culture, Food, Language, Places | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “McDonald’s in Japan”

  1. inqk.net » Personal » Stranger in a Strange Land Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    [...] the reasons for the name change aren’t so readily available. So far I’ve found a few people saying it’s because ‘Ronald’ is difficult for the Japanese to pronounce (although [...]

  2. Terry Wallwork Says:
    September 6th, 2007 at 3:36 am

    I wish they did the shrimp burger at my MCD I would think more highly of MCD, which is not putting it very high still I always try and avoid fast food places..

    The smoking issue would annoy the hell out of me though as I don’t smoke.

  3. Adrian D. Havill Says:
    February 5th, 2009 at 10:53 am

    It should be noted that “Ranald MacDonald” (???????????) is a famous historical figure in Japanese history — probably the first foreign English teacher in Japan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranald_MacDonald

    Whether or not this influenced the renaming of McD’s mascot in Japan, I dunno.

  4. greg Says:
    January 14th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I like they are introducing new America burgers
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/mcdonalds-japan-brings-america-burgers/

  5. Jennifer Says:
    August 10th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Uh, the Japanese don’t have trouble with the letter R–it’s L they have trouble with (which is why they pronounce London as “Rondon”).

  6. wes Says:
    January 12th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    In the old days, they just used Ronald, Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese in TV commercials even in Japan! http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/mcdonalds-japan-tv-commercials-1977-1978/

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