The New York Times has a great article on the Japanese and their anxiety with safety. One designer, Aya Tsukioka, has created a skirt that unfolds to become a realistic looking vending machine, to hide from would-be attackers. She’s also created a backpack that looks like a Japanese fire hydrant for children to hide behind, as well.
It’s interesting how different culturally we are from the Japanese. They’d rather hide and use cunning then to fight back, and possibly cause a scene. While reading the article you get a sense that the Japanese are almost naive about things like self-defense, but a lot of these types of devices actually do work in their culture. It’s definitely funny from a western point of view, but still fascinating.