Thanks to my friend Paul for sending me the following:
"On a narrow Tokyo street, near a beef bowl restaurant and a pachinko parlor, Aya Tsukioka demonstrated new clothing designs that she hopes will ease Japan’s growing fears of crime.
Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine.
The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.
Ysukioka says her inspiration has been Japanese ninja assassins, who cloak themselves in black blankets so that they cannot be seen in the night.
She says the invention fits in with Japanese sensibility. "It is just easier for Japanese to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing."
The designer's other inventions include a manhole bag which unfolds to look like a sewer cover and a backpack which can transform into a fire hydrant to hide a child.
20 hand sewn vending machine skirts have already been sold, costing about $800 each."
As Paul wisely pointed out to me, "But what if the rapist stops to buy a Coke?"