Leital Molad, Executive Producer, WNYC Health
Leital Molad is the executive producer of Only Human. In 2001, she was part of the team that created WNYC’s Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, public radio's premier show on arts and culture. In her ...
We (Americans) love to talk about how Japanese design - sushi, origami, bonsai trees - is amazing for its beauty and detail. And yes, those things are there. But as I've been walking the streets of Tokyo, a few things have caught my eye that are much more utilitarian.
When we first got to our hotel, I noticed these raised metal shapes on the floor. It took another day of sleep - and seeing them all over the place - to realize what they were for.The ones pictured here lead from the hotel elevator to the thoroughfare outside the hotel. Take the T to the left, it goes to the mall, take it to the right, it goes to the street. When I realized they were pathways, I figured out that they are for the blind. I started seeing them all over the city, along every sidewalk leading to bus stops and subway stations.
I have yet to see a blind person actually walking on them, but it's impressive that they exist. I haven't seen anything similar in New York or London or other major cities that I've been to. In fact, whenever I see someone who's blind walking the streets of New York I am amazed that they can get around. Would NYC ever implement these kind of pathways? (Given that our subway announcements are often incomprehensible, probably not.) The traffic crossings here also 'chirp' - another thing lacking from New York, though I have heard those in Europe.
On another transportation note, I've seen a lot of bikes, which usually seem to be parked in clusters unattached to racks. So, I thought, without locks. On closer inspection, I noticed these:
You use a key to activate the lock around the wheel. Of course this would never fly in New York - someone would inevitably take the whole bike. But it's cool to see a lock that comes attached to the bike - much more convenient than schlepping a chain or a u-lock.
Now here's something that our WNYC colleague Ellen Horne told me to look out for:
Aha - but not everything is ingenious here. I can officially say that our cell phone design sucks - confirmed by our Japanese colleagues. It's the most counter-intuitive interface. And it's in English! (What are 'simple' 'limit' and 'manner' modes?) Maybe by the time we leave I'll have figured it out.
- Leital Molad