Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Japanese Locked Door Mystery

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

I have a car and an apartment, and I am enmeshed in a foreign culture.  Back home, in the good old US of A, I had this crazy habit of locking my keys in my car or in my house.  The habit got more pronounced as I aged.  Coming to Japan, I had a distinct fear of getting locked out of  my car or apartment, and I suspected that it would be much harder to gain entry in a land where people routinely refused to learn my language.

But I was wrong.

Istanbul Kebab House - a local business
Oh, the language barriers were real enough - and then some!  But what I have learned here is that Japanese technology, especially regarding locks and keys, far exceeds the minimal standards that are so common in the United States.

First, let's look at the difference in locking systems between the car I have now and the POS Chevrolet that I drove for the last few years in America.   Many times I opened the Chevy's door, flipped the lock, jumped out and slammed the door only to realize that my keys were still in the ignition.  It got so bad that I hid a set of keys in my unlocked out building at home and another set in my desk at work.  The Japanese solution:  My car here, an old Nissan Cube - older than my Chevy - has three door with locks.  If I jump out and lock the driver's door manually as I am exiting, the passenger door unlocks itself.  In fact, it is impossible to lock all three doors at once without using the key on the driver's side door.  It is so simple - wake up, Detroit!

My apartment has two exits, a door facing the elevator and stairwell, and a balcony with a six-story drop.  The apartment cannot be locked from the outside by any means other than using a key.  I cannot set the lock on the way out and slam the door behind me.  Granted, there are similar locking units in the United States, but they ought to be mandatory - especially for our fogbound senior citizens!

Simple solutions that work.  Of course, simple solutions cut down of the income of locksmiths, carpenters, and car glass companies.  As Gilda Radner used to say, "It's always something!"

1 comment:

  1. My (Japanese!!) car, a Honda, is impossible to lock out of. I love Hondas for that reason. My mother's car, a Toyota, is also impossible to lock out of, but it has irritating features of locking the passenger doors on you once you put it in gear; then, when I need to get my purse out of the back seat, I have to unlock the door first with the key or remember to hit the unlock button before I get out.
    But in my Honda, no such worries. When you come back stateside, look into Hondas. They are great.