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Urban features of Japan

With few exceptions, Japanese usually back into parking spaces. This occurs in open lots as well as parking garages. I was told it is done for accident prevention.

This photo does a poor job of showing the unique colors and boxy style that I saw on Japanese vehicles - from left to right we see pink, light blue, blood red, and orange.

Some streets are quite narrow but are considered two-way streets. If two cars meet coming in different directions, the smaller usually gives way to the bigger one by finding an alcove with enough space to get out of the way. The two-street below is generous and offers more space on the sides for pulling over than some that we saw.

Note the sillouette figures in the roadside fence.

Hills (mountains?) that were always present during our drives to everywhere we went. Because of all the hills and mountains, there are lots of tunnels. Some of the tunnels are so long that they have fans hanging in them that keep the air circulating through the tunnel. We didn't get a picture of the tunnel fans but below is a picture of the ever-present hills/mountains.

Sound buffers along the highway were quite claustrophobic as we drove between them.

Speed limit sign (30 kph) and a no parking sign.

Bicycles are usually not locked up. For those that are, they are usually not locked to immovable objects; instead they lock one or both wheels to the bike frame so it can't roll. Almost all bikes belonging to young and old, male and female, have baskets (for shopping and such) and ringy bells (to get people out of the way since it is legal to ride on the sidewalk).

Almost all major street intersections and public buildings have tools for directing the blind. Building exits and crossing signals both tweet like birds when it is safe to exit/cross. Yellow pavement with straight lines direct the blind to building exits, stairs/escalators/elevators, and crosswalks. Yellow pavement with studded (bumps) indicates a change of direction (left turn to reach exit), change of elevation (stairs, escalator), door, or walking into the street.

Some of the manhole covers are fancy. One of these covers shows Commadore Perry, who brought the modern US culture to Japan.

Powerlines are all above ground, including the residential neighborhoods.

Trash pickup is always indicated by green netting. Usually, we just saw trashbags covered with the green mesh. Finer trash spots had caging surrounded by green netting. Trash is plainly obvious as you go down the street/sidewalk. I saw no trash cans/bins as we in the US use. There is less litter on the streets because Japanese people litter less (it is socially unacceptable) and because city and neighborhood folks are paid to clean up trash and leaves on local streets and sidewalks on a regular (daily/weekly) basis. Still, we did see some litter and grafitti as we went. As Mimi will tell you, Japanese cities overall are not very aestheticly pleasing though you might say they are cleaner than average US cities.

I saw an interesting outdoor paid parking system that I haven't seen so far in the US (although it may be somewhere I have not yet seen). You park your car and, at some scheduled time (I'm guessing on the hour), the metal flap flips up and you have to pay for it to drop back down.

The Japanese train and bus system is excellent. Everything runs on time. Trains are so frequent that we never waited more than 5-7 minutes after reaching the platform before our train arrived. The trains are so precise that you can step up to the markings on the floor, colored by train route, and be sure that the doors will open right in front of you. Note the yellow lines and studs for the blind. The second photo shows an example of one of the simpler schedule charts they had.

The Japanese fire trucks are all smaller than the standard US firetruck. It is not your imagination that the truck on the far left is about the size of a clown car.

Moped/bike parking lots are common in Japan. This is 1/4 of what it looked like at night time when the mall and the bike lot were packed full.

A very busy alley full of shops and restaurants. These kinds of shopping alleys (no cars) are usually crowded but are the best places for free food samples, offbeat clothing, and items you could buy at a mall but for less money. Can you find Wally in these pictures? *grin* Just kidding.

People | Food | Curiosities | Natural attractions | Cultural attractions | Buildings | Urban features | Notes