For the most part, Japan is an extremely safe country. Still, that doesn’t mean the country is completely crime-free, with convenience stores being one of the most likely targets of individuals who’ve been driven to extreme measures by their desire for cash (or a light snack).

Occasionally these crimes are diffused by clerks who are quick-thinking, daring, or possibly deliberately obtuse. On the occasion that a robbery does go down, however, victims in Japan do have one last resort: chucking a giant paint ball at the criminal.

Officially known as crime prevention color balls, I’d lived in Japan for years without realizing exactly what these things are, even though I’d often seen them sitting behind the counters at convenience stores.

From their shape, I’d just sort of assumed they were cases that held promotional anime prizes, sort of like a jumbo version of the coin operated gachapon toy vending machines you find scattered around Japan.

It wasn’t until I noticed a pair at a cheap, cash-heavy beef bowl restaurant which didn’t provide any sort of toys with kids’ meals that I thought to ask my wife, who explained that they’re used to mark escaping criminals so that it’s easier for the police to identify and capture them. The idea is similar to department stores that attach packs of ink to designer jeans to prevent theft. It’d be impractical to stick a separate security device on every 1,000-yen note in the register, though, so a different delivery system is in place for the color balls.

Expressed in technical terms, the victim chucks it at the dude.

The delicate casings of the color balls burst on impact, making it easy for the police to track down perpetrators who aren’t also decked out in Dutch national soccer team jerseys. Due to their size, the blast radius is pretty impressive, as you can see in this YouTube video from

So remember, if you’re interviewing for a part-time job at your local 7-Eleven or FamilyMart, and they ask why you’d think you’d be a good candidate, don’t forget to mention your strong work ethic, outgoing personality, and wicked fastball.

Sources: Donguriko,