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[ The Legacy of The Tale of Genji ]

Well, There Goes Japan- Shinichi Atatakakunakattakara

People are often concerned about what the future will bring. What sort of technologies and advancements will we make in the coming years? Can we establish lasting peace? What new developments will restructure the very way we conceptualize our lives?

People point to technologies like 3D printing that will revolutionize manufacturing, driverless cars that will change our commutes and clean, renewable energy that will perpetuate our society into the future. However, the truth of these technologies and the future is obviously and inescapably divergent from this blissful view of things. Even a cursory look at human history tells us that humans can only be relied on to use technology for destruction, war and really silly things. The first two uses are founded on our obsession with entropy and the oppression of other Peoples. These are boring and, as every the repetitive nature of history illustrates, predictable. The last, though, has potential to get interesting.

Take any powerful technology and look at what real people actually do with it in their daily lives. The internet is used for watching videos of cats, looking at pictures of cats, discussing the habits of cats, and not much else. Given this theory that technology will be used for entirely silly endeavors, we come inevitably to the great questions of our time: Who will guide advancement to the future? Where can we expect these pointless uses of time and energy to come from? If you’ve read this column before, you probably know the answer: Japan—the country you’ll never understand, no matter how hard you try.

Japan has been on the leading edge of doing weird shit for far longer than you can imagine. The first recorded novel, “The Tale of Genji,” was penned in Japan at the turn of the first millennium. Soon after, Japan created early medieval sci-fi stories.

From that moment on, the advancement of silliness in Japan has continued unabated. There have been tales of princesses from the moon who landed in bamboo fields to live with humans; a majestically abstract and spectacular theater that no one understands; whatever-the-hell that anime thing is (Seriously guys it doesn’t make sense, even to us); and the pinnacle of useless cat videos, “Maru jumping into and out of boxes.” The technologies develop in Japan to shape the way we waste our time, and I’m here to deliver a concise look at what might come in the future.

The Japanese toys of the future offer wonderful new ways to waste time while integrating your life with technology. You’ve heard of robot dogs, right? Well for man’s best friend Japan decided the next best option was insects. The sensible route would have been to develop something like nano-bots with pollination capabilities in order to replace dying bee populations. Instead, a company has developed robot cockroach toys: micro-sized pests.

Other toys include robotic cat ears that sense your mood and react accordingly, a panoramic seven-camera hat for photography and a version of Tamagotchi that has the user insert a finger into a sleeve in a box to interact with the pet. This technology, as the reader might not guess, was immediately applied to human communication to make a kiss transfer device. It uses a double-ended mouth piece to transfer mouth and tongue movements to the partner’s side: a kiss condom to prevent cooties. Personally, I’m betting a no-touch intercourse model for Wi-Fi sex will exist within the year. Japanese technologies are also currently expanding on the idea of mechanically-made, delivered food. The Kaiten rotating sushi restaurants work to get precisely and robotically-produced sushi to the customer in minutes with absolutely no human contact.

The future looks strange, arguably bleak and remarkably silly, but one can’t help eagerly awaiting what new, unprecedented advancements will be developed by the country obsessed with 90s pagers and fax-machines.
Shinichi, despite the name, is an American citizen, not a foreign exchange student. His parents disowned him 3 years ago when he received a ‘B’ in Professor Butler’s MATH 122, but he’s pretty sure they still love him.

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