Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dazzling Brightness and High Velocity

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Close up of a green eye after crying or sun exposure

The first sunny day I donned my hat and went out to the playground with my students, I had to beat a hasty retreat to the staffroom with tears streaming from my eyes. The intense glare reflecting off the pale packed dirt rendered my hat completely useless as far as eye protection goes. For the next few years I caused much amusement among my kids by religiously wearing sunglasses. They found it hilarious, for reasons you will understand if you’ve watched much anime; sunglasses seem to be either for fashionable purposes or as a disguise, not everyday sun protection.

Gundam Seed's Athrun Zala
Athrun Zala
Athran Zala in disguise in Gundam Seed Destiny
Totally unrecognisable body-guard

Unfortunately years of dodgeballs to the face, being dropped or sat on and in one case falling overboard into the ocean (the glasses, not me) have taken their toll on the glasses I brought over from Australia. It’s not that I have anything against Japanese sunglasses, it’s just that they all say “UV cut” and nothing else, which tells me exactly nothing about how much protection my eyes are actually getting. It’s even worse when it comes to motorcycle glasses. Australia has safety standards to rate how shatter-proof riding glasses are. There’s no point in wearing a shatter-proof helmet if inside it your eyes are being cut to ribbons by a cheap pair of regular sunnies. While I am sure one can obtain safe sports eye-wear in Japan I just don’t have the language ability to figure out what ratings to look at or what brands to trust. I’ve been suffering recently with glare while riding (as well as in the playground) and frankly driving in Japan is scary enough when I can see for me to want to attempt it squinting. 

Luckily for me, an online discount eye-wear outlet site called Smartbuyglasses not only stocks high velocity rated sunglasses in amongst the Ray-Bans and Juicy Couture but also were kind enough to give me a pair in exchange for me introducing their site. I’m not personally interested in fashion or brand names; I always bought my sunglasses from the Cancer Council in Australia. If fashion is your thing, the 50 % off price tags will probably be appealing. For me the advantages of the site are two-fold. First, I can google the models in English to get an SPF for sunglasses, and second, they have motorcycle and other sports glasses (PAINTBALL GLASSES!!!) with durability and safety ratings I can trust and understand.

The fact of the matter is, I can be a bit of a dick on the road. I follow the rules as much as I can, no one else does, and there are never any police there to protect me. Australians who complain that traffic policing is all about revenue raising, please try riding two wheels in Japan and then see how you feel. I've had lit cigarettes and cans thrown at me for daring to drive only seven or eight kilometres over the speed limit instead of twenty like everyone else. So, I have been known to take my revenge on people who overtake me dangerously by waiting until they get stopped at the next set of traffic lights, coolly and calmly making my way up to the head of the queue (legal in Japan) and then taking off at exactly the speed limit. It drives them crazy, they do another insane over-take on a blind corner, burn off into the distance, get stuck at traffic lights, rinse, repeat. I know it is evil but sometimes I just need to make myself feel better (for the record, I started doing this after having things thrown at me, it has not been the cause of any projectiles yet). After confessing this naughty habit to my dear husband he mildly suggested that I should "ride safely now that we are starting a family..." XD So, long story short, I am happy to be adding some high velocity glasses to my collection of safety gear. Thanks Smartbuyglasses.
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