Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shutter bug

My phone was set to silent. None of the keys made a sound. Texts, voice calls and emails screamed like banshee in space. I pressed the camera button and…


… and everyone in the public restroom became rudely aware that I had just taken a photo of a toilet. 

Ahh --I hear you say-- but you can just turn the shutter sound effect off in the preferences menu. This is surely an obvious and reasonable assumption since my iPhone does not actually have a shutter. Of course, you would be right...


All camera sold in Japan must, by law, make a shutter sound. Options to silence it are therefore removed from all hardware. This is because in Japan there are apparently SO MANY PERVERTS that it is COMPULSORY for a camera to emit a loud noise to announce to everyone in a 5 metre radius that YES, I AM TAKE A PHOTO. PROBABLY UP YOUR SKIRT. 

When I first discovered this, my second idea was to start wearing cycling shorts under my skirts with immediate effect.

The first was to stuff a long flesh coloured sock and hang it from my waist.

This is an immensely annoying law, since there are many legitimate reasons why you would want a silent camera. Photographing wildlife, for instance. Or toilets. Also, while taking photographs of exciting and crazy Japanese products in stores around town. Of course, anyone privy to my photo albums will know that I do this last regardless of the inability to conceal my actions.

Does anyone stop me?



Because doing so might involve speaking English. It is one of the advantages of having the sales staff flee behind the nearest rack of goods when they see you coming.

Shoplifting would be another. Just so you know I've noticed. 

So this is why I've rarely post photos of the crazy high-tech Japanese toilets. The ones I've taken have not come out well and I'm only prepared to try once every six months. 


  1. When I first realized this, my reaction was gratitude that nobody would take photos of me looking irritated in trains. Then I realized that nobody would want to photograph a middle-aged mousy blue-stocking anyway, and then I got irritated again ... but at this stupid rule, not at stupid commuters. Because why, see, I want to photograph those commuters being stupid, publish their photos and rant to high heaven.

    PS: I've never understood this up-skirt thing. Hems are so high (in Tokyo) that you don't need a camera at a weird angle; you just need to sit opposite a woman in a train. Unless, of course, she's above-mentioned grumpy nerd in a granny dress and sensible shoes.

    1. Quite! I'm pretty sure if you took a standard photo of a subway car, you'd get at least 3 pairs of panties in it!