When I arrived in Japan, left the airport and wanted to buy a train ticket I was greeted by a cute computer-generated female voice. At that time I couldn’t understand any Japanese which made the situation even funnier/weirder. But having lived in Japan for almost a year now, I got quite used to the fact that everything in Japan speaks.
I am now going to introduce some of the speaking things that took me by surprise.
Everything In Japan Speaks
I am not lying. In Japan almost everything can speak in some way. That makes life not only easier for disabled people but for everyone.
I find having everything read for you makes interacting with a machine much more intuitive.
Everything In Your House Speaks
About two weeks ago I changed host families. The new host family is really kind and interested in me. They are also pretty funny. But what I found even funnier was what happened when I made my first bento (read more) there.
The Fridge Speaks In Japan
When I opened the fridge suddenly a woman said good morning to me. She then went on to recommend me a recipe that would fit to today’s weather. Sadly you can’t really predict when the fridge starts speaking. But I have noticed that it will most likely say something when you open it in the morning. And of course the fridge won’t speak when I want to record it.
After a few attempts this morning I finally captured the fridge speaking!
The Stove Speaks Too
After taking all of the ingredients for my bento out of the speaking fridge I started cooking. But just a few seconds later when I moved the fry pan a bit another woman started speaking.
What the stove actually said was:”Please check if the type of fry pan that you are using on the right stove is compatible with this stove and if you’ve placed the pan in the right place.” I find this a very useful feature that could prevent an injury.
I also find it funny how precise it is by saying that it’s the right stove.
In Japan The Cash Register Speaks
Self-checkout machines are getting more and more popular all around the world. There are also a few of them in Japan. Actually the convenience store (read more) Lawson has a very cool concept (watch). But at your typical Japanese supermarket you will almost always find two people working at one register.
But despite two people working at one register, you have to pay on your own at a semi-self-service cash register. That alone took me by surprise. But as you’d expect, this semi-self-service cash register can also speak. And to be honest, it makes life much easier – especially when I don’t know the reading of some of the characters.
Fact is, I now get surprised when I see a machine that doesn’t speak. Because, everything in Japan speaks!
Cars Speak In Japan
I thought the movie cars is the only place where you’d see speaking cars. But Japan things differently. Because everything in Japan speaks.
“This is an ambulance! Taking a right turn!” if you come to Japan you are probably going to hear this phrase. Obviously in Japanese and not in English, but you will hear it.
The reason why ambulances can speak is, that it has to get to its destination as fast as possible. And that without getting stuck in traffic. For the same reason do they have sirens. When people know where the ambulance is going they can move out of the way and let it pass easily.
Another reason is to warn pedestrians standing nearby. Larger vehicles like garbage trucks and also normal trucks can “speak” in the same way as ambulances. Which is much more useful than just a tone indicating that the truck is turning.
There is one more type of speaking cars in Japan. In Yao, the city I lived in, elections where held during April. In Switzerland candidates promote themselves using posters, flyers and by giving away free stuff. But in Japan giving free stuff for a political campaign is forbidden. They have another way of promoting themeselves.
That’s the sound truck. During the election they were everywhere. And they are really annoying. Besides promoting election candidates there are also sound trucks that promote events, concerts, restaurants, etc.
I won’t go any further explaining the political use of sound trucks since there is a lot of regulation about what they can say, how long they can run, etc. If you want to read more here is the wikipedia article.
Image of the ambulance：By Ominae – 投稿者自身による作品, CC 表示-継承 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63192856