(written June 3, uploaded July 21)
As I’ve occasionally mentioned, one of my favourite things to do in Japan is to visit the fridge section of leading electronics retailers. The product selection puts ours to shame! This may be because each of Japan’s tech conglomerates (Sharp, Hitachi, Panasonic, etc.) tries to differentiate their refrigerators. The Japanese government’s Top Runner program probably helps too, as it forces companies to improve product efficiency, meaning innovation is incentivized.
From the looks of it, Sharp’s patent on magnet-based refrigerator doors is still in effect: this allows the design of a fridge door which can open from either side, and they continue to be the only ones offering this feature. (When you open the handle on the left, the magnets on that side disengage, and the door pivots open from the still-engaged magnets on the right. And vice-versa.)
Toshiba came out with a model where you can open the fridge door simply by pressing a touch pad — no yanking open required! Aya’s sister bought one, and she thought it Awesome… until her eighteen-month-old son got just… barely… tall enough to slap the touch pad while on his tiptoes, causing her to have to walk past a giggling infant to re-close said fridge’s door, dozens of times per day. :)
Meanwhile, my in-laws have a Panasonic which beeps when the door is left open too long. As ridiculous as it felt to be scolded by an appliance (!) for wasting energy, I immediately changed my behaviour to avoid further harrassment. So, it worked…!
I’m also pleased to report that you can still take the electronics stores’ massage chairs for a”test ride”, and that the technology has continued to advance. :)
In other shopping observations, the 7-11’s don’t just sell Vitamin Water; someone has come out with a Vanadium Water product, bottled around Mount Fuji. The usual health benefits are claimed; realistically, every trace element is probably helpful for Something! :)
In addition to its convenience store empire, 7-11’s Japanese division owns a supermarket chain and a baby goods retailer; the latter hosted a Baby Crawling Race we entered Leo in. Patterned after a marathon, it involves the babies crawling roughly one ten-thousandth of 42 km (that’s 4.2 meters) across a foam “racetrack” to their cheering parents. At least, that’s the theory. Ever seen a horse race where half the field sat drooling at the starting line? ;)
But that tale, I’ll have to tell next time… :)