Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I hesitate to say this in such a public place, but there is a deplorable epidemic in the otherwise polite and orderly Japan. The problem of which I speak is the utter disregard for signage indicating which side of the walking path is for walking and biking. I was quite sure that when I went to Tokyo there was an understood rule to walk to the left, but here in Sapporo, apart from the escalators (stand left, walk right), everyone just seems to walk wherever they please. Considering the number of bikers and walkers on the path that I take every day from the bus and subway station to school, this lack of order is unacceptable. When we first arrived, it was still a mystery as to which side to walk on and the only way to know was that in the mornings there was a man standing with a sign saying "keep right" (add one to the list of least satisfying and most pointless jobs). After about a month, nice clearly visible signs were added to the path itself showing obviously human shaped marks keeping right and exceptionally accurate bicycles keeping left (though of course this doesn't stop the guy from holding the sign every morning).

Even with this addition, everyone, bikers and walkers alike, walk and bike whichever way the wind blows, which has a tendency to be toward the wrong side of the path. Gone are the days of the Confucian ideals of adherence to social order and norms. Alas, I fear that these disorderly actions may be a sign of coming societal collapse and I can only pray that I am out of the country before it falls into a state of ruin and chaos.

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