Safety Last: Shockingly Unsafe Preparations For the New Year Holiday
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iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.4, ISO 80 — map & image datanearby photos
Electric Bush
with open high-voltage wiring at a convenient “kid friendly” height

On the way home from the park with Anthony, I noticed preparations for the new-year hatsumode “first visit to the shrine”. As happens every new year, the street leading to the Heian Shrine will be closed off for several days, and the sidewalk lined with food vendors.

The preparations that I noticed were for the food-stall power supply, and if you'll forgive the obvious pun, it's shockingly unsafe.

iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos
Hanging Outlet
not quite UL® approved for outside installation

Basically, they took two singleton strands of insulated wire and strung them over some bushes and then up through branches of the trees lining the sidewalk. These wires are used both to carry high-voltage current, and to support the weight of themselves and whatever hangs from them.

At intervals, short segments of insulation were stripped and at these spots bare wires were hooked, leading down to in-wall outlets just hanging bare.

iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos

I took these snaps while awkwardly holding my iPhone way above my head... sorry for the lack of quality. But with these dangling overhead like this, think about how they'll be used: you can't just shove a plug into them because they're just hanging free, so someone will have to reach up, grab the outlet tight, and if they're not electrocuted, shove the plug in. All I can say is that gloves are highly suggested.

Of course, there are no grounding wires; Japan generally doesn't have them to begin with.

iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/350 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos

Where the trees don't provide enough support, they built a sturdy scaffolding to hold the dangerous wire safely away from the public:

iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/350 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos
single bamboo pole just standing free is certainly
Totally Safe

iPhone 4S at an effective 35mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.4, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos

I don't know how someone can think this is okay. Just shocking.

All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Does|Would it snow|rain during the use of the wicked wires?

Sure, of course, though I don’t know how much that matters, except for it creating a more efficient shock, should someone get shocked. I don’t think rain/snow would create an enhanced chance for a shock in the first place, though. —Jeffrey

— comment by parv on December 30th, 2011 at 8:11pm JST (12 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I think Americans are in general waaay too litigious, but this is one of those cases where people being a tad bit more litigious would help. After all, if a Japanese parent’s kid got electrocuted and died from one of those things, their only response would be to apologize to everybody for making such a fuss.

— comment by Zachary on December 30th, 2011 at 11:51pm JST (12 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Are you sure these wires were hot yet?

I doubt they were hot yet, but I’m not sure. There were multiple sets sort of tangled together at times. —Jeffrey

— comment by Marcina on December 31st, 2011 at 2:28pm JST (12 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I have a strange nostalgia for that type of human negligence. Many American children of the 1970’s remembers, rock fights, dirt bomb fights. Illegal fireworks. No bicycle helmets. Riding in big metal cars with no child seats. No bicycle helmets. Trick or treating at night; and to complete strangers houses.

When we visit Japan, I still see rusty metal play grounds… people smoking everywhere, non-teen children walking home alone. Kids’ drinks that come in glass bottles. To me that’s one of those hidden Japanese aspects that makes me feel homesick for a place that I have no right to call home.

But you’re right, that is completely ridiculous. The only consolation is what others have said. We’ve made a huge industry in the U.S. out of lawsuits and tort. And yet even with all of our precautions we constantly out-Darwin each other year after year. Good to see your common sense glands are still working.

P.S. If you get a chance, go visit the roller-slide in Kasai. Went there last summer. Way to fast. Curves way to sharp and the channel is way too narrow. The raspberries on my calves are just finally healing. You and Anto will have a blast.

Your first paragraph fills me with nostalgia! I’d never heard of the slide or Kasai, but found this video, and the opportunity for severed limbs and broken bones looks impressive… a must visit! (Sadly, one of the slides is currently closed off for repairs.) —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on December 31st, 2011 at 2:30pm JST (12 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink
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