3.31.2009

Wash and Go



Washlets (toilets with a bidet-like spray nozzle) have become so common in Japan, you not only find them in homes, but also in the restrooms of offices, department store and restaurants. You could say that ass-washing is almost a national sport. (OK, not quite.) I've always made it a point not to use a public sprayer because I figure that any water spraying up has to fall down. . . and where is it falling? Onto the very spray nozzle that everyone is using. Well, bathroom fixture manufacturer TOTO must want to tap into this market of people who are either afraid of using public washlets or are simply afraid of going to toilets without one available. This portable washlet that I spotted yesterday at Yodobashi Camera runs on one AA battery and can fit into your purse or briefcase. The display at the store even had English explanations aimed at making this product appeal to all those foreign tourists who "suffer from hemorrhoids" or those who want to clean themselves "during or after pregnancy."

3.30.2009

Train Robbery



This notice on a train ticket vending machine warns people that gum or other substances may have been placed intentionally in the coin return to rob them of their money. Most people are in such a rush that they probably don't count their change, and after they have gone through the turnstile, someone will place their fingers into the machine and pocket the blocked coins. Some of the machines even let you buy a ticket with a 10,000 yen note, so any change over 1000 yen will come out of a separate bill return. Now if I could only find a way to block that, I could quit my day job.

3.17.2009

Extra Appendages



My gym has a room outfitted with massage chairs, and I often use it after my "rigorous" workouts. There's a poster on the wall that explains, in Japanese and English, how to behave (no sleeping!) and how to use the chairs (15-minute time limit!). I've never really looked closely at all the rules, but the other day some text caught my eye. At first I thought the vibrations of the chair had shaken my retina loose. Upon closer inspection, though, I realized it said exactly what I thought it said. Apologies for the blurry pic -- I rushed in order not to disturb the people that were "not" sleeping. The English says, "Please put the spare prick in the basket." The original Japanese says something like "Please use the basket for your belongings." How that translates to "spare prick," I have no idea.

3.10.2009

The Long Arm of the Claw



This sign, which is found on most train platforms here, has always struck me as odd. Yeah, it's just a notice to tell stupid people not to jump onto the tracks to retrieve dropped items, but still the combination of the faceless silhouettes, the alien-like posture of the little "girl" and the long, skinny claw gives me the creeps. It might be triggering memories of my UFO abduction.

3.09.2009

Shower Suit



Hate those dry cleaning bills? People in Japan apparently do. According to this TokyoWalker article, since last spring when clothing manufacturer Konaka debuted its "Shower Clean Suit," more than 150,000 have been sold. The company's amusing commercial shows men wearing their suits under the showers in a public bath house. The beautiful blue mosaic of Mt. Fuji on the wall, a common decoration for bath houses, makes for an eye-catching ad. But if the ad was trying to emphasize the convenient aspect of the suit, I think they missed the mark. Public baths are no longer in every neighborhood like they once were, and you'd most likely have to go out of your way to find one.

3.05.2009

Hallelujah!



I had read about miracle fruit in the New York Times about a year ago, but yesterday was the first time I had ever seen it in a supermarket. Apparently, if you eat this berry, for about a half hour afterwards, any sour foods that you eat will taste incredibly sweet and delicious. I personally don't see the point of this, especially since I usually eat sour foods because I like the sour taste. The price is another factor that will keep me from trying it: 580 yen for one! Maybe they could reduce the price if they didn't over package the thing. Yes, that is just one tiny miracle fruit inside all that plastic. Even more amusing is how the price sign says one "pack" is 580 yen when you're not getting a pack of anything at all, just a lot of packaging!

3.03.2009

Grate Advertising



This is the second floor window of a tatami-maker. Tatami are traditional Japanese straw floormats. I like how metal grillwork over the window has been manipulated to form the kanji character for "tatami."