humpbagWord play is fascinating in any language, even more interesting when it extends across two languages. A friend brought the bags pictured here to me last night, at a gathering of people I've met via whale, dolphin and sea lion trips.

The army-green bag on the left caught my eye when I was in Tonga earlier this year (a few friends from Japan had the bag). The bag is made of canvas, which is written as 帆布 in Japanese, and pronounced "hanpu". The writing on the green bag (which you can't read from this photo), says 帆布バッグ, which is pronounced "hanpu bag"...which sounds almost exactly like the way you'd pronounce the word "humpback" in Japanese. In other words, nearly the same pronunciation for "canvas bag" as "humpback whale", for a bag that has a humpback whale on it.

The cuteness and cleverness of this probably loses something in translation, but it's a terrific example of aligning concept, design, form and function.

The blue bag on the right has an adorable drawing of a sperm whale, which is another of my all-time favourite animals.