Saturday, June 12, 2010


Was going to write something about this, but Thomas Dillon at the Japan Times beat me to it. He's a bit too kind in his assessment.

You don't really walk with your feet here. You walk with your ears. For sharp hearing will alert the careful pedestrian as to what lies around the bend...

...Pedestrians do not squeal. Most of them anyway. So ears are of no help. To avoid being bumped or cut off you have to rely on your eyes.

But much of the pedestrian horde appears to be blind. Or only focused on their own destinations. Many march on impervious to the fact that between them and their goals walk other people.

We refer to this behavior as "group harmony" or "good manners" or something like that. And, Good Lord, we haven't even considered the negligent homicide-inclined mama-chari-ist cum (recently) road cyclist.


  1. The walking without looking is one of the things about Tokyo which drives me around the bend. I think it's simply a way of not taking responsibility (something the Japanese embrace wholeheartedly). By not looking, they make other people constantly accommodate them. If they look, they become responsible for accommodating others, so, best to walk around as if blind to the existence of others.

  2. Yes, and the problem is that everyone is walking around like that and nobody seems to be looking. The same thing happens on bicycles.

    Who would have thought that simply walking down a sidewalk could be so stressful.

  3. I understand what you mean having lived in Tokyo for many years. But it was also a difficult adjustment when I first came to live in NYC. I had to make daily decisions about whether to charge across the street while the red man is still flashing. Thank goodness, they've introduced counters to quite a few pedestrian lights recently.

    On balance, I think I prefer NYC, though. As long as you remember to look both ways, you can get to your destination much more quickly!

    Seen the Elephant

  4. Yes, and there is no Denenchofu Private Girl's school in NYC. I try to avoid the sidewalks that they take to and from school for fear of being trampled. And I just assume that crosswalks are kill zones.