I came across a number of incredible ideas while in Japan. I took photos of a few and wanted to share them and why I think they are so great. The first is a turning lane that extends into the intersection. What you are seeing is a car which has proceeded into the intersection and is now waiting to turn. What this does is allow the driver to see how far into the intersection they can extend and begin their turn without impeding oncoming traffic. Some of the traffic signals in Japan can be confusing but I think this one is spot on.
One thing that did concern me however is the idea that the car has already turned their wheels. This is dangerous because if they are bumped from behind they will be thrust into oncoming traffic exposing the driver to a T-bone hit.
The next idea is side walks for the blind. I have seen this on the subway platform on the TTC but in Japan they have it on the side walk. These are different textured panels which are set into the concrete of the side walk. These panels provide directional information and warnings for the blind. Another advancement they had, which I couldn’t take a photo of is different music playing for each direction of the crossing. I am not sure if this is everywhere or just the intersection in Asakasa where I took this photo. You will also notice in the top right the pattern extending across the white lines of the side walk.
The last picture is from a public toilet. The Japanese take cleanliness very seriously. The extends to the public spaces. I have written before about the amazing toilets. Well in an effort to promote cleanliness and health the Japanese provide sanitary spray and tissue for you to wipe the toilet with before you sit down. There are even instructions in Japanese and English in case you are not sure what to do. It is a simple solution using materials that are already found in the bathroom anyway, they just moved the location into the stall.
Now I can’t speak for the rest of Japan, but I find Tokyo to be very easy to move around in. Most of the signs are either accompanied by visual representations or English. The transit repeats the instructions in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. There are enhancements to make things easier for the handicapped and to ensure public safety.
While Japan is by no means perfect there are good ideas that we should look at adopting to improve quality of life in Canada.