One small step for fork technology, one giant leap for foreign relations.

Ladies and gentlemen, Japan is on the verge of a major crisis. Although often lauded for its politeness, there is a dark side to Japanese culture which visitors to the land of the rising sun may find disturbing.

I’m talking, of course, about “noodle harassment.”

While certain cultures may equate the sound of noodles and moisture violently sucked between a pair of lips with, say, nails on a chalkboard or a wet dog farting, in Japan it is as commonplace as politicians shouting through megaphones in the middle of the street.

The Japanese are well aware of the off-putting nature of slurping noodles, but have made it clear that they “don’t give a rat’s ass” (a phrase that sounds much cuter in Japanese) what other people think and will continue to do it.

This impasse has gone on for a long time, but with the Olympics approaching and foreign tourists arriving in record numbers, noodle harassment threatens to undo the entire spirit of the games. Something needs to be done, and luckily, we have the technology to do…something: Behold Otohiko!

Now, Otohiko may look considerably larger and heavier than typical forks, but that’s because it’s full of solutions – and a fair bit of rare earth.

In a poetic circle-of-life kind of way, the technology for Otohiko actually comes from toilets. That’s right, Otohiko works much like TOTO’s celebrated Otohime toilets. Otohime is a system in which sound is generated to camouflage the sounds of particularly aggressive trips to the toilet.

Now, Otohiko brings that experience right to your mouth! The way it works is simple; the makers, instant ramen giant Nissin, have painstakingly data-mined countless samples of slurping noises and loaded it into Otohiko.

If the user begins to slurp, its high performance microphones can detect it and using near-field communication prompts their smartphone to play a cunningly deceptive “WOOOOOSH!” sound. Sounds effects are also adjustable, including a xylophone!

It’s so simple, it’s a mystery why someone hasn’t done it sooner, but the most amazing part of all is that THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Otohiko is an actual product that can be bought for 14,800 yen (US$130). That might sound like a lot for a fork, but what price can you put on cultural understanding?

In addition, quantities are limited to 5,000 of these huge forks. If you want to be the proud owner of a peacemaking piece of technology, then head over to the Nissin website before pre-orders close on 15 December, 2017.

Unfortunately noodle harassment will not be eradicated until we pinpoint the underlying causes of it, but that’ll take time. Otohiko will at least get Japan through 2020 without the Olympics turning into a gigantic international Three Stooges-style food fight…as much as I’d like for that to happen.

Source: Nissin
Video, images: YouTube/Nissin Foods Group Official Channel
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