“Hey look at that! The taxi driver opened his door while he was driving down the street toward a passenger.” Matt, the 16-year old son of my traveling companions, Leanne and Tony Argyle, pointed out what turned out to be a neat bit of technology. In Japan, taxi drivers push a button to automatically open the rear door as they pull up to a passenger.
Automatic taxi doors were just the tip of the iceberg. There were vending machines that sold almost anything imaginable, even cigarettes! My young friend and his sister, Cailtin, wondered about the potential for minors to purchase smokes. A quick Google search put our minds at ease. A chipped, adult ID card is required to purchase cigarettes from vending machines. The Argyles spent one day at a Japanese auto plant and returned with tales of life-size dancing robots. Even the parking garages are high-tech. With space at a premium, the Japanese have built multi-story garages where cars pull in head first onto a rotating disc. The turntable rotates the car, whisks it up several floors, and moves it sideways into a parking space.
For me, however, the most astonishing technology was Japanese toilets. They warm the water, wash your derrière, perform a bidet wash, offer deodorizer at the push of a button, and even play music or flushing sounds to mask other more embarrassing sounds. When a toilet seat lid stood up automatically for me on one occasion, I just had to make a video called “How to use a toilet in Japan.” Alas, by the time I departed, I was so used to Japanese technology that not even the automatic opening taxi door surprised me. Seriously, why don’t we have more things like this in the USA?