"Excuse me," the Japanese man asked in English. "Can I ask you a question?"
We were walking down the street from our hotel in Ikebukuro, Tokyo on the next to last night of our Japan visit. The man buttonholed us as we passed in front of the Sunshine Cinema.
"Yes," I said warily. I recalled the folks in Yokohama who had asked me for money for earthquake relief.
"What does ponjya-mick mean?"
"Could you repeat that?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know that . . . ."
"Pandemic?" Amy suggested.
"Oh, pandemic!" I said. "That's a disease that spreads all over."
"Thank you," said the man.
"Why do you ask?" I said.
"It's the name of a movie over there," he replied.
I looked over at the cinema. Indeed, the Japanese title of the Japanese/American sequel to "Ju-On" (known over here as "The Grudge") was entitled -- in phonetic Katakana -- "Pandemic."
That's the problem with foreign movie titles: unclear phonetics.