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Posted November 19, 2014, under Gee Whillickers!

There’s no denying that there are a lot of great products and services to be had in the United States. But Americans don’t have everything.

Bullet Trains

Japan has had these fast-moving (with speeds in excess of 200kph), futuristic-looking trains for decades. European trains of similar design allow travelers to get from Paris to Amsterdam in roughly three hours. That’s 100 miles per hour, and no dealing with traffic!

Even more exciting are Maglev trains — as of this writing, only commercially available in China, Japan and South Korea. These babies are twice the speed of bullet trains and, while they are expensive to build, the lack of friction due to the fact that the trains are levitating over the track means maintenance costs are lower.

America is getting closer to having true Future Trains. High speed rail lines (not quite the same thing as the bullet trains, but still fast) exist in the American Northeast, linking up some of the major cities, and there are plans to create more of them throughout the country.

“Smart” Toilets

The Land of the Rising Sun is going to show up a lot on this list. Say what you will about their game shows, Japan has some truly amazing innovations, like high-density parking for cars and bicycles, vending machines for everything, and more.

But for this entry: Japanese toilets look amazing and we want one. Features include: bidets, self-cleaner, de-odorizer, white-noise generator, night lights, and heated seats. There are some models that come with a remote control. A remote control! For a toilet!

Our favorite feature has to be “self-closing lid” — ending one battle in the War of the Sexes, once and for all.

The good news on this one: We’re seeing reports of Japanese entrepreneurs working on bringing these “smart toilets” to U.S. markets.

McDonald’s International Menu

Anyone who’s seen ’90s classic Pulp Fiction knows that McDonald’s burgers have different names in France, and that mayo trumps ketchup over on the Continent. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of regional specialization.

For example, cows are sacred in India, which is going to make expansion into that territory hard going for a hamburger chain. We assume that’s why they offer the “Chicken Maharaja Mac.” It’s basically a Big Mac, but with spicy chicken patties.

Also pictured: Israel’s McKebab, Canada’s McPoutine, Malaysia’s Chicken Porridge (don’t ask us; apparently this is a thing over there), Japan’s Bacon Potato Pie, and the McRice Burger from the Philippines.

Tada Copy

Visiting Japan again, we bring you: Tada Copy! The service is an idea we can definitely get behind: Free photocopies for students, paid for by advertisers, whose ads go on the back side. The copiers use thicker paper to avoid bleed-through, and the ads commonly include QR codes for easier online connection.

…And for Dessert

We can’t leave Japan without picking up the complete collection of Kit-Kat candy bar flavors.

In America, the concept of different flavored candy bars is strangely rare. Maybe it’s because the chocolate used in American candy bars is vastly inferior to real chocolate — we don’t know. But candy companies should really consider finding a way to broaden their offerings. We’re positive there’s a market in America for Green Tea Kit-Kats.


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