Automation has been described as both the blessing and the curse of the modern age.?
Automation has been described as both the blessing and the curse of the modern age. Whatever its advantages or drawbacks, in Japan it has become a way of life.
In the thirty years since the end of the Second World War, Japan has adapted and improved the technology of every other industrial nation to become the world's most automated country.
It is not only in industry that the machine has come into its own. Slot machines now bedeck the streets of every major Japanese city... providing all sorts of instant refreshment, food and entertainment at all hours of the day or night. By inserting the right money and pressing the right buttons, the customer can get a meal of traditional hot noodles -- complete with chopsticks and sauce -- or a drink of beer or sake (rice wine) ... all without entering a single restaurant or bar.
In the same way that machines have helped the Japanese worker by taking on some of the more tedious and heavy tasks, they can also provide some of his leisure. Japanese technology has provided machines to sell titillating literature -- to spare the blushes of the shy -- and even ones that can take the place of the famous Japanese massage parlours if you prefer the anonymity.
Travellers, shoppers and post office users find their way through a maze of machinery...and, to finance it all, a number of major banks have almost completely gone over to machines and computers in the care of customers' accounts.
But automation provides its own problems. Many Japanese are bewildered by the change...and prefer the personal touch.