This is the fifth and final video in our first series of “Only in Japan” videos.
Zebras, Tapes and Taxis is a mixture of a few weird “OIJ” scenes, that were not enough to make a full one minute video from, but nonetheless are still worthy of your Japanophile eyes, and are bound to bring a few chuckes.
The video consists of three themes: Zebras, Tapes and Taxis!
In most countries (at least USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand) where roads are striped with black and white lines – parallel to the flow of the traffic – pedestrians have right of way, and cars must yield (stop) when someone is walking, or is about to walk across the road… Right? Wrong.
This universal stripy marking, normally pointing out a haven for people wishing to walk across the road in most countries (called a Zebra Crossing, but unimaginatively referred to in the U.S. as a “crosswalk”) doesn’t seem to hold any authority when it comes to making Japanese drivers stop for the proverbial granny trying to get across to the other side of the road. (The founder of the colouring scheme for the crossings – pictured above – is not happy with the state in Japan, and is pressing defamation charges against Ishihara Shintaro in the Tokyo Supreme Court at the time of publishing this article)
I am not quite sure what the actual law about stopping at zebra crossings is in Japan (but some enlightening comments would be welcome!). In any case, it can be a shock for first-timers in Japan, when cars don’t stop at these crossings. The symbology of such simple lines is really quite powerful, and I am sure it has lead to quite a few gaijin “near-accidents”.
Despite their wide usage, it appears that zebra crossings (where there are no traffic lights) in Japan are only for show, and have no bearing on actually slowing people down. On the other hand, they do however get extremely complicated at large traffic light intersections, shown by this picture of one of the most famous crossings in Japan, in Ginza. It’s almost going overboard with the Zebra theme in this case, its hard to know which way to walk!
Anyway, on to the video. The “Taxi” and “Tape” parts are also fun additions, to make up the Only in Japan video collage, a grand finale for the OIJ series if you ask me! The video not only shows us the reality of zebra crossings, but introduces another eyeopener for first timers – automatic car doors on taxis. Along with this, we also get a peek inside a Japanese video rental shop- what a combination!
Thanks again to Simon Adams and Andrew Johnson for showing us a few corners of Japan, that we may have missed otherwise! Enjoy the last video in this series of Only in Japan footage, “Zebras, Tapes and Taxis”, and send it on to some friends!
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