An article in Friday’s New York Times featuring this photo cracked me up. Only the Japanese would think something like this up, and Japan is the only place in the world were anyone would actually use one. Designed by a twenty-nine year old fashion designer, the flaps that these fake vending machine consist of are concealed beneath a woman’s skirt. If she feels threatened, such as when she is walking home alone at night, all she needs to do is lift the flap and stand very still.
The invention is interesting not just in it peculiarity, but also, as the article goes on to say, in how much it reflects the deep deference in the mindset of the typical American and Japanese urban dweller. An American’s idea of an anti-crime device (and by American I mean United States citizen) is a gun, pepper spray, or a taser, but “many Japanese favor camouflage and deception, reflecting a culture that abhors self-assertion, even in self-defense” according to the article.
I find that insight a bit funny, too, considering the impression most American are left with by Japanese media. I can’t personally think of a Japanese film, manga, or novel I’ve ever seen that doesn’t involve at least one horrific death, and I’ve seen more than most. However, it is noteworthy for anyone who has taken a real interest in Japanese culture.