Why do the Japanese jump level crossings?

I see a shocking amount of this on my walk to work, and I say that as someone who is regularly ticked off by policemen for being the only person crossing the street at a red light. So, why are the Japanese, famous for happily waiting for the green man on completely deserted streets, perhaps more likely to rush across the train tracks – and that despite the motion sensor buzzing at them for doing so and the regular news stories of people being killed on train tracks?

First of all, this is yet another example of how the Japanese are not, as some assume, “law abiding”, they simply follow what the majority does, also seen at the few streets where people do regularly run across when the red man is showing, a whole stream of people following each other up the wrong side of the station stairs, etc etc. More importantly with level crossings, this is a perfectly rational reaction to the typical safety overkill by Japanese organisations (and the people who work for them). Perhaps as a reaction to people jumping them, the level crossing gates close long before they need to, but this of course makes people more likely rather than less likely to continue ignoring what they say. In the worst cases, gates are only open for a few seconds after ten or fifteen minutes closed, adding up to only five minutes or so per hour. Better to ignore such an arbitrarily decided closing of the gates than be late for work or to meet a client.

Knowing people’s reactions, trains also tend to travel slowly over such busy level crossings, making it even safer for people to cut under closed barriers, and hence goes on the merry dance of counterproductive Japanese safety overkill. At times it’s almost as bad as my own country’s “health and safety culture”…

Why were rickshaws invented in Japan?

The word rickshaw comes from Japanese “jinrikisha” (human powered car) and the first (pulled by man) ones were invented in Japan in around 1869, before the technology and the name spread around the world – the kind of Walkman of their day.

The invention seemed to be due to a unique combination of factors in Japan at that time: the scrapping of the Tokugawa rule against wheeled transport, the import and then mastery of western wheel technology, and the lack of horses to take advantage of those two other things.

Why don’t Tokyo trains and buses run at night?

According to the Japan Times, Tokyo’s very first night bus has started running once an hour from Roppongi to Shibuya and back.  Reasons given against underground trains doing the same in the article include the need for maintenance (something other places somehow get around) and salarymen not wanting a reason to work even later (i.e. not to lose the excuse to leave of the last train home).

What the article doesn’t mention is the ability of well organised and pushy taxi drivers to block proposals like this – including in some countries their apparent ability to make sure that there are no other easy ways of getting to the airport! Given the famous electoral influence of farmers and owners of small shops in Japan, I’d be very surprised if taxi drivers don’t also have a real impact on policy.

Why don’t Japanese cyclists obey the rules?

I keep on coming back to this question, because there seems to be such a change between Japanese on foot, on two wheels and on four. For example, cyclists jumping red lights where pedestrians and motorists never would, cycling with umbrellas, ignoring one-way signs on streets, and protests against changing a law against more than one child seat.

I wonder whether cycling became  popular during a chaotic period in Japanese period like Taisho or just after WWII.

Much more on this topic by clicking on the Japanese cyclists category above.

Why aren’t the Japanese good at giving up seats on trains?

I don’t think this is the main reason, but one of my students had the interesting explanation that they don’t like drawing attention to themselves, something ironically made worse by the effusive thanks (often again when they get off the train too) that you get when you do so. Something that does match with this is that people who give up seats often stand up far away from their original seat after doing so.


Why are there no Infiniti cars in Japan?

As Toyota used to do with Lexus cars, Nissan sell most of the same Infiniti models as plain Nissans in Japan. The next questions is then why they haven’t made the change and why Toyota took so long to do so, to which I imagine the answer is that Japanese people who would buy such cars didn’t want to appear flashy by having a non-standard brand. Fund managers etc are much more happy to flash their cash nowadays, however, so I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Nissan makes the change that Toyota did.

Why doesn’t everyone have Japanese-style suspended petrol pumps?

In Japanese petrol stations the pumps come down from the roof, leaving the entire garage forecourt free. It must be safe (this is Japan we’re talking about here), so why isn’t it more popular abroad??

Photo of what I’m talking about here.

Why is this Japanese commuter train so smelly?

Are you in the western carriage of the Sobu/ Chuo local line on its way to Suidobashi? If not, is there perhaps another place you can bet similar to the Korakuen Wins betting shop in Suidobashi on your route? Seems to be the reason about 90% of the time when it happens to me…

Why does everyone ride mama chari shopping bikes? 4th attempt

Although this is a lot less true than even a year ago, it’s still quite striking coming from the UK where a male would probably have to cycle through a hail of jeers on the typical Japanese bike. Here’s an explanation I hadn’t come across before:

“It is illegal to ride a bike on which you cannot touch the ground when mounted (this is one of the things that the police check when registering your bike).”

Japan For Kids pg 23

Why is it okay for a man to ride a shopping bike? Second attempt

Or indeed for a trendy teenage male to be on a “mama chari”?

I just noticed that there are in fact some gender differences when I saw a man on an electric bike with a baby seat and realised that I’d never seen such a thing in Japan before. I think the big difference between practical cycling and sports cycling that I mentioned in the last post might also be a factor.

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