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Saturday, Oct. 12, 2002
Personal fences and Hello Kitty killer
By AMY CHAVEZ
In the spirit of "benri de ii" (convenient and good) I would like to propose some ideas for making Japan a more convenient country.
For example, I have never understood why we can't have assigned seating on commuter trains. Since so many people take the same train to work every day, it would be easier to pay and reserve your seat for the year and always have it. This would prevent the present stalking of other passengers who you know will get off at a certain stop every time. It would also prevent the current stalking of other passengers who might get off, thus moving to claim their seat as soon as their calf muscle twitches.
If we had reserved seats, we could just slide a commuter card into the panel on the arm of the chair. If someone tries to take your reserved seat without the proper card to insert, they would simply be catapulted out of the seat. In addition, double-seaters who take up two spots would be pinched in the buttocks.
If you are tired of riding in standing-room-only trains, yet don't want a reserved seat, I recommend using something dog owners have been using for years: fencing. Take the invisible electric fence and put it around a human, and we would all have more personal space. No one will invade your personal space, not even a pervert, if they will get an electric shock.
Buses and ferries in Japan have seats that pull down into the aisles to provide extra seating. They can't do this in trains, of course, as too many people have to walk through, stand in and vertically snooze in the aisles. However, an extra seat could easily be attached to the window -- on the outside. Such seats, for lightweight people and babies, would be much more convenient than having to fight the crowds getting on and off the train. Just jump off or on at any platform. Furthermore, a row of deck chairs on the top of the train would be an environmentally friendly way to create more seating. I can see the summer campaign now: "For your scenic life very enjoy."
In addition to transportation conveniences, I have some suggestions to make everyday Japanese life more convenient:
Sound blocker for the nonblind: There is a sincere attempt to entertain the blind in Japan. Loud music, whistling traffic lights, beeping walk signals and roving politicians shouting through microphones are all audible on an average walk around the city. Every time you heard an obnoxious sound, an audio system affixed to your ear automatically would bellow out Pavarotti or the chorus to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Hit Kitty: A machine to take Hello Kitty off the products you want to buy. This machine would also track down Hello Kitty on products you have already acquired and cleanse them of the celebrity feline.
The following features should be added to Palm Pilot PDAs to make them more Japan-friendly:
Personal lie detector: To monitor Japanese speech and cut through those vague expressions to tell immediately if the person is lying or not.
The bower: To immediately access how important the person you are meeting is to access the degree to which you should bow to them.
Name reader: If you have trouble remembering people's names, all you need is the software that matches names to nose-hair length. When you meet someone, a small, undetectable laser measures the person's nose hairs, then adds them to your database. When you see the person again, the laser will automatically measure their nose hair length, then match them to that in the database to display their name for you.
One product, which would make someone a million dollars if they could invent it, is a pocket magnet powerful enough to hold that train or bus for you when you're just about to miss it. Of course, if everyone had one, it would disrupt transportation schedules. Therefore, I recommend making only one and selling it for a million dollars. A million dollars would definitely make life "benri de ii."
Contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the "Japan Lite" home page at www.amychavez.com