Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Urban Camouflage in Japan

Great article from The New York Times on the Japanese's obsession with safety and security in modern-day Japan, even when crimes rates are in decline. It showcases their creativity to combat such fears, using camouflaging devices to escape would-be aggressors and bullies, that would bring a smirk to most Westerner's eyes. Take the “manhole bag,” a purse that can hide valuables by unfolding to look like a sewer cover. Lay it on the street with your wallet inside, and unwitting thieves are supposed to walk right by. There is also a line of knife-proof high school uniforms made with the same material as Kevlar, and a book with tips on how to dress even the nerdiest children like “pseudo-hoodlums” to fend off schoolyard bullies. You may also outfit your kid with a backpack that doubles as a mailbox disguise, in case ones is in need of a quick cover-up. The silliest of the bunch might be the skirt that is lifted to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine. The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine!
These elaborate defenses are coming at a time when crime rates are actually declining in Japan. But the Japanese, sensitive to the slightest signs of social fraying, say they feel growing anxiety about safety, fanned by sensationalist news media. Instead of pepper spray, though, they are devising a variety of novel solutions, some high-tech, others quirky, but all reflecting a peculiarly Japanese sensibility.

To read the full article go to The New York Times website.

No comments: