Apr 152014
 

imageFrom man-about-Osaka, Urano-san:

In Japan, we often see people taking a walk with their dogs. Almost all the dogs wear very colorful clothes. Why is this?

Sometimes owners walk with their dogs in their arms or transport them in a baby carriage, which looks very humorous to me.

Every owner carries some bags and papers to collect the droppings of their own beloved dogs and never leave them on the road, even in the park. Owner’s manners are always very good, something which we Japanese can be proud of.

In Japan, smaller sized dogs are prefered, because they are taken care of within the narrow Japanese houses common in urban areas.

Near my flat, there’s an animal hospital, a pet shop and a doggie salon. That animal hospital accepts patients for medical care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s equipped with a very high level of medical instrumentation including an X-ray machine, a MRI scanner, and more. We’ve heard that medical treatment costs are very high at this hospital, however it looks very busy.

At the pet shop, many kinds of animals are sold: dogs; cats; fish (in fresh and salt water); birds; squirrels; crocodiles; snakes and many other species. The price of dogs or cats is typically more than 100, 000円 per animal. During the weekend, that pet shop is full of visitors.

It sells not only animals but also all the goods necessary for keeping one’s pet healthy, comfortable and stylish. Goods for dogs are especially plentiful; ball shaped feed, canned food, snacks, cakes(!), ice cream(!!), diapers(!!!), clothes and more; almost all the goods are similar to the ones necessary to take care of human infants and toddlers. I truly feel that I ate rather inferior quality food when I was a child living in a much poorer Japan compared to the kind that today’s pampered Japanese dogs eat regularly.

The hair salon for dogs seems to be always busy, though the cost is far higher than my typical bill at the barbershop.

In spite of the fact that there are many areas where people starve to death in the world, what is the current Japanese situation? I once heard a trusted veterinarian’s opinion that dogs kept within a house are not so happy, because they are confined in limited-sized rooms and therefore under greater stress than is natural. In addition, they are not allowed to have contact with fellow dogs of the opposite sex.

Are they truly happy?

Aug 052013
 

In various locales throughout the Kansai region, construction is proceeding to change the landscape of many neighborhoods. While the results of construction can make the places we live, learn, work and relax much better, the process can be painful and inconvenient for everyone who has to be near the project. Of course, construction makes noise … a lot of noise.

But Japan displays a continuing commitment to providing another level of service and consideration to all of the people who will have to live with the demolition, repair and building. The exhibit shown below is one example of this. It is a large display of a machine that measures noise and vibrations generated by a road construction project. Not far from this mechanism is a public school, a library and many residences. The machine has a microphone and vibration detector. The LED display shows the decibel level and vibration level for the whole day. Anyone can see the monitor from almost any direction.

If the noise level goes too high, the construction foreman can make corrections. If the vibration level goes too high, the neighborhood residents and workers can make a complaint to the same foreman and construction company.

Osaka Ali doesn’t know if such a system is widespread in other places in the world, but it seems very in character for Japanese society. Care and consideration of others is an artform here. And the Japanese are always seeking ways to improve service so that disturbances to the fabric of life are minimal.

What do you think of this noise and vibration monitor? Do they have this kind of system in your town? If not, would you want it to be used where you live and work? Why or why not?

の騷音 Full Noise level today only

只今の振動 Full vibration today only

Monitor and shielded microphone with stand ...

Monitor and shielded microphone with stand …

 

Jul 062012
 

You see strange things on the streets of Osaka. A professor of art once told me that a defining characteristic of Mexico City was its surrealism. So far in my experience, Osaka hasn’t matched El Districto Federal in the surrealism department, but sometimes it comes close … like the time I was walking through the suburbs surrounding Kansai University and witnessed a man taking a walk with his calico cat … on a retractable leash. He did this without a hint of self-consciousness. But the truly strange thing was that the cat accepted this situation as a completely natural circumstance. Of course, Osaka Ali took this event as proof positive of the imminent end times. Sorry readers, I didn’t have the guts to take his picture and post it here. Perhaps next time.

On the other hands, ummm, hand, I did have the cojones to snap a shot of this:

Easy rider …

Quite a handful an eyeful. Did Salvador Dali design this bicycle seat and forget to license it to Avocet? Well, it appears to be a beautiful accessory attached to an attractive custom “Von Dutch” style pinstriped cruiser bicycle. From what I could tell, the material of this saddle was a black polyurethane surface. I don’t think that it had inscribed handprints and fingerprints, so it wasn’t totally realistic, but I guess it was satisfactorily realistic enough for the owner to install it and presumably ride it. Notice the conveniently placed beer can. Do you think that the bike came from the factory with this seat as a standard option? All that I can say in hindsight *ahem* is that this bicycle seat gives new meaning to the word, “ergonomic”.

Does any reader know who manufactures this saddle?

This artifact was found at approximately 34.706561,135.499287

Sep 172008
 

From The Canadian Press

Kazuo Kawasaki, the Japanese designer of Sarah Palin’s glasses, is grateful to the Republican vice-presidential candidate for making his product famous,…”She is very good-looking. She would look good in any glasses,” Kawasaki said Wednesday of Palin at a Tokyo store operated by Masunaga Optical Manufacturing Co.

The company, based in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, usually makes 12,000 MP-704 glasses in an 18-month period.

Thanks to Palin, it has already received 9,000 global orders, mostly from the United States, in the last 10 days, says Masunaga store chief Akira Nagayama.

Kawasaki, 59, an engineering professor at Osaka University, also designs arty syringes, artificial hearts, kitchen sponges and wheelchairs – including his own that he uses after a traffic accident 30 years ago.

He believes his glasses are becoming a hit because people appreciate how scientifically and ergonomically they are designed so wearers barely feel their presence.

Kawasaki said he shares what he sees as some common political sentiments with Palin.

“I am quite right-wing,” said Kawasaki, a long-haired soft-spoken man proudly wearing the updated version of the MP-704, the MP-705. “I am a nationalist in the sense I believe in the Japanese esthetic.”

But he also can’t help feeling an affinity with Obama.

Fukui happens to have a city called Obama. Some of his former students have started a community movement supporting Obama, although none of them can vote in the Nov. 4 U.S. election.

An award-winning designer who has contributed to the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kawasaki has seen his glasses on celebrities before, including former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and actress Whoopi Goldberg.

But he has never got quite the stunning reception as he has had this time around with Palin.

“I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Ms. Palin,” he said with a smile. “I want people to realize how fantastic Made in Japan technology can be.”