Archive for the 'Future' Category

Train Transit Card Tracks Kids and Tells Parents

PASMO IC wireless card sends emails to parents in Japan. An IC card security system that tracks kids is being offered by Tokyu Land Corp.
Homeowners who purchase a Tokyo Security home security service plan have the option to enable the Tokyu Kids Security system. Tokyu has partnered with PASMO Co. which issues rechargeable contactless PASMO IC smartcards for rail and bus systems in Japan.

Tokyu Security IC card reader for children's security inJapan. With the child security function enabled, when the child uses the PASMO card to enter a train station, an email is automatically sent to sent to pre-registered addresses. The email indicates the location and the text says "passed over the entrance". The Tokyu Security website depicts the child using the IC card at stations, school, and after school at cram school. Tokyu sells the colorful Tokyu Kids Security PASMO card readers.

Tokyu Security IC contactless card tracks kid's whereabouts in Japan.
Condo security system uses contactless card to send email to parents. Some new offices and residential buildings constructed by Tokyu utilize the PASMO security system at the building entrance. The card is used as a key to enter entrance and lobby areas and the owner’s front door. If a condo owner purchases the optional Kids Security plan, the "passed over the entrance" email is automatically sent to pre-registered addresses when the child uses the card to enter or exit the building. The Kids Security plan costs JPY 525 per month in addition to the cost of the basic residential security plan.

Branz City Denen Hills condo in Tokyo uses Tokyu Kids Security systemTokyu Security children's protection plan inJapan.
Tokyu’s Branz City Denen Hills condominium in Machida City near Tokyo is one of the new buildings utilizing the the PASMO security system. Existing buildings can be retrofitted at the entrances to enable the PASMO IC card security system.

Roll-Oh Proud of Maid Robot

Roll-Oh and new Assistant robot from JapanInterview for Lets Japan by Rosey the Robot.

Rosey/LJ: Assistant Robot, you really are following in the footsteps of your grandfather Roll-Oh the Robot.

Assistant Robot: (laughs) Yes. But I actually roll.

R/LJ: Let’s talk about your…

AR: Before we get started, I just want to say you are my idol. You inspired me.

R/LJ: Thank you. Now, your handlers say you can, and I quote "put away dishes smoothly." Now, tell us, really, how many plates have you broken?

Rosie and Assistant robot in JapanAR: I have never a broken a plate.

R/LJ: Not one?

AR: Never.

R/LJ: A-R, why 5 eyes?

AR: I have 4 stereo cameras on the front of my head. And a laser sensor on the top of my head.

R/LJ: I was able to get by with two eyes and I had to watch over Elroy, Judy, and that d**m dog Astro.

AR: Well, you have those two antennas sticking out the sides of your fat head.

R/LJ: Your developers say you can learn from your mistakes. What have you learned?

AR: Always wash lights and darks separately.

Toyota Assistant Robot A-R prototype in JapanR/LJ: You recognize ambient sound.

AR: I’m sorry. What?



R/LJ: Do you have an iPod?

AR: Of course. A white Nano.

R/LJ: What’s on your playlist?

AR: AC/DC, Beyonce, Metallica, Koda Kumi, Gazette and that ‘Louie, Louie’ song.

R/LJ: What’s your gender?

AR: I’m a prototype.

R/LJ: A-R, why are you always frowning?

AR: I do housework! It’s not fun you know.

R/LJ: I want to get a little personal now. How much do you weigh?

AR: One hundred thirty kilograms.

R/LJ: It looks like you’re hauling a Good Humor truck back there.

AR: I knew it! I do have a big butt! They told me I didn’t. (cries)

R/LJ: If Roll-Oh were alive today, what do you think he’d say.

AR: Shall we ask him? My advanced technology hetrodyne stimulator reaction activator allows me to communicate with Roll-Oh’s regenerator concavination intermediate amplifier circuits.

R/LJ: What’s Roll-Oh saying?

AR: Scram.
Good Humor ice cream cart circa 1967 USARoll-oh robot control box developer: Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative; Toyota Motor Corp news source: Japan Times








Crime-Fighting Vending Machine

Coke machine guards park

Coca Cola vending machine similar to toy robot from 1960sA new vending machine has a built-in direct phone line to the police department, an alarm buzzer, a 24-hour video-recording surveillance camera, and a revolving red light on top.

"The "Help Vending Machine" was provided by Coca Cola in cooperation with the Aichi prefectural police. The machine is  located in Iwata Athletic park in Toyohashi, 250 kilometers south of Nagoya, Japan. Toyohashi was selected because of an increase in crimes since August 2008.  

The phone in the vending machine automatically dials 110 when the special front door of the machine is opened, the handset is picked up, or the button to activate the flashing light is pushed. The warning buzzer triggers when the door is opened, and the red light begins rotating. The video camera starts recording as a person approaches the machine.

Japanese children use the Coke vending machine police hotlineA woman test the Coca Cola emergency vending machine phone in Japan

Police believe the machine will deter crimes and aid reporting of suspicious activity.
Police did not comment on the resemblance of the crime detector machine to Chief Robotman.

news source: 47 News (J); Asahi (J). History of robot tin toys made in Japan.

Memorial To Monkey Who Got Away

Scenes  From The Future

Future memorial staue dedicated to lost macaque monkey in TokyoTOKYO, MAY 17, 2022 (LJ) - A statue of the rogue Japanese macaque monkey befriended by many in Tokyo, was unveiled today at Shibuya station in Tokyo.

Nicknamed Maka-Waii, (hat borrower) the female macaque first appeared unattended at Shibuya station in Tokyo on August 20, 2008. After a chase through the station, police surrounded the monkey with green netting, but the monkey escaped the hands of the police, in the process, grabbing a police cap from the head of an officer.

The macaque again dashed through the station, then found her way outside, and, putting on the cop’s cap, smugly sneered at its pursuers and disappeared into the neighborhood.

The monkey was believed to have made it’s way down from Okutama, a mountainous area  about 50 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.

Reader-submitted file cell phone photo of Japanese macaque loose in ShibuyaThe seemingly tame Maka-Waii, had often been spotted – always with her police hat on her head – around Shibuya station. Although she allowed people to get close enough to feed her, she was never caught. Police finally said shoganai, and Maka-Waii went on to become a tourist attraction and neighborhood celebrity.

In addition to handouts, Maka-Waii apparently lived off discarded food from the numerous restaurants in the area.

In February, Maka-Waii was discovered motionless at the base of a children’s slide in a playground next to the Yamanote line tracks, 500 meters from Shibuya station. She was not breathing. Police began an investigation and eventually determined the macaque was dead, probably due to a head-first fall from the top of the slide  Her police cap was not found.

The memorial bronze likeness of the cuddly monkey is next to Hachiko, the famous dog who continued to wait for his master at the station, long after the owner had died.

The officer who lost his hat in 2008, who was removed from patrol and assigned to a desk position shortly after the incident, says he is still praying for the safe return of his hat.

Maka Waii romps on overhead cables next to the Yamaote linein Tokyo in this September 2012 photo.

Maka Waii macaque shibuyamacaque monkey tokyo shibuyatrain station

August 20, 2008:
Monkey amuses commuters at Shibuya station, gives cops the slip

Monkey eludes net-wielding police at Tokyo station

Related: Cat In Hat Can’t Quit

Photo illustrations by Lets Japan.

Enough Shortages

Bye Buy Butter

Thirty-five years ago, it was toilet paper. Now, consumers and bakeries are hunting butter as Japan is suffering a butter shortage.


Supermarkets are limiting butter to one per customer. At OK Mart, Hokkaido butter brand was available, up 100 yen from it’s previous price of 199 yen. Buyers were allowed only one package of the precious gold.

Manufacturers are apologizing as usual.Butter-Net-Shop

Bakeries and restaurants have been having butter troubles since late 2007.

Falling butter production in Japan is due to a variety of factors since 2006, including government efforts to maintain prices for local milk farmers, dairy closures, a decline in milk consumption, excessive import tariffs, and worldwide grain-feed price rises.

French bakery chefs are concerned: “We’ve had to come up with some new items that use less butter, like cookies. But you’re talking about flavor. How can you replace butter?” says a pastry chef at a bakery in Tokyo. la times

Butt Shortage Not First

Japan went into “oil shock” in 1973 when Arab members of OPEC set policies that would quadruple the price of oil. Reports predicted a shortage of goods, including (more…)

Automakers Cops Conflicts

Opposite Directions

Elderly Driving Chart Tokyo Police DepartmentDecreasing auto sales in Japan, combined with new laws targeting elderly drivers and other efforts to prevent pensioners from driving, are making it more difficult for auto manufacturers facing a different demographic future.

Newsweek reports automobile sales in Japan have been declining steadily over time. It says aside from minicars and luxury foreign brands, sales of all other types of vehicles are decreasing. Newsweek details a number of factors for the developing disinterest in car ownership.

A 2007 report by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association includes data about the vehicle preferences of people aged 50 years or older. According to the report, “a large number of respondents in this category said they wanted to curb car-purchasing and other car-related expenditures. However, among goods and services they wished to purchase with their retirement benefits, ‘automobiles’ ranked fourth among a total of 19 items.” The research also showed people are keeping their cars longer.

To counter the continuing sales decline in Japan, car makers have been improving marketing strategies. Toyota’s Gazoo website features “Drive Dates” hosted by cute female “idols”. Toyota also developed, built and operates the Tressa Automall near Yokohama.

Toyota Gazoo website promotes cars.Toyota Tressa Automall Yokohama Japan 01
Nissan’s Cube compact car brand has it’s own artists and music label. Nissan has a whole website of entertainment, including Kid’s Nissan and Nissan origami. Honda is targeting the youngsters with games online at Honda’s ToyTown, which includes popup paper-craft instructions.

License To Shop

Meanwhile, Tokyo city government has been working to get senior citizens to stop driving. Tocho is so concerned about the increasing number of automobile accidents caused by elderly drivers, it is offering incentives to persuade golden agers to quit driving. (more…)

Elderly Fighting Mad

Prisons Plan for Geriatric Perpetrators

Elderly in Japanese Prison

Age: 80Gender:M Crime: punched, hurled souvenirs and sandwiches at shinkansen conductor

Age: 65Gender:M Crime: attacked son with hammer then accidentally stabbed himself and died

Age: 87Gender:M Crime: strangled 82-year-old bed-ridden wife

67Gender:F Crime: stabbed her 76-year-old husband in murder attempt

Age: 69Gender:M Crime: murdered, buried 74-year-old woman

Life in Japanese PrisonLetsJapan has been tracking this trend. Now The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Japan’s “neo-geriatric” crime wave and prison preparations, and offers some theories about why senior citizens are trading their little houses for time in the big house.

related stories:
As Japan Ages, Prisons Adapt to Going Gray (New York Times); Japan’s Ageing Society (BBC) Tokyo Greying (Reuters) Slideshow - Japan’s Aging Prisoners, elderly inside prison in Japan (New York Times)
Illustration from graphic novel “Doing Time” by Kazuichi Hanawa

McDonald’s Singer Who Delivers People’s Hearts

Mcdonald’s Singer Crew Japan Will Chisato Kon, from Aomori-shi, be the next worldwide Voice of McDonald’s?

More than 3,600 McDonald’s crew and managers from 53 countries entered the Voice of McDonald’s II singing contest. The deadline was in Sept 2007.

The first prize winner receives a $25,000 prize, but no recording contract.

The finals will be held at McDonald’s Worldwide Convention in Orlando, FL, April 14-17, 2008.

McDonald’s Singing Contest for Restaurant Crew and Managers

Chisato Kon profile