UPDATE: Video no. 4 in this series is now available HERE.
How the weeks fly by! Here we are on our third of our weekly series of “Only in Japan” videos. Once again Simon Adams takes us on a mission to unravel the mystery of the “Orange Ball”.
They are round, colourful and embedded deep in the Japanese retail culture. Every bank and post office has two at each teller’s booth. They are hard to miss at convenience stores, and you wont enter another Japanese “gasoline stand” without seeing one. What are they? I am talking about Orange Balls of course. If you have lived in Japan for any amount of time, you must have seen them (you certainly will after watching this video anyway!).
In last week’s video we discovered the “Magic Hand”, the all-purpose tool for handling any I’ve-dropped-my-*insert item here*-on-the-tracks situations at Japanese train stations. This week, we learn that Orange balls are the ubiquitous anti-crime tool in Japan used for stopping all sorts of criminals in their tracks, well almost… They are, orange balls, filled with a thick florescent ink that glows in the dark, and has a strong smell. Police dogs in Japan are actually trained to be able to track this particular odour (said to be similar to rotting pineapples), and are taught that it is the smell of a criminal.
Orange balls are available for about 1500 yen each, and actually come in lots of colours. However, Orange – for some reason – is the only one that is in wide use (I have never seen another colour in use anyway). These spheres of ink are called 防犯ボール (bohan ball) in Japanese, and a simple Google search for the term shows that they are widely available on the internet, here, here and here for starters! You can even buy clear water filled orange balls for practice! (Don’t ask me why you cant just use a normal tennis ball or something.. it’s just good marketing I suppose)
How are they used? Well, I couldn’t be bothered writing a thousand words, so you can watch the cool short video below, and check out this demonstration picture. (The video is much more enjoyable – trust me!)
QuickTime is required for this video, in order to view in full H.264 Quality.
Other stippy.com articles possibly of interest:
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