21 March 2007

What Do Japanese Do on a Day Off? Part 1

Today (Wednesday) was a national holiday in Japan. Alas, the Japanese haven't yet discovered that they can relocate all national holidays to Mondays or Fridays -- I wish that would import that piece of western technology.

Anyway, because there's just one day you can't really take trips anywhere, so I hopped on the bike and spent the whole afternoon riding down through various neighborhoods to the Tama River, out the river to a place called Noborito, back to Shinjuku and finally back to the house. Here are some things I saw on the way.

#1: They train their children how to behave in traffic

This was an awesomely Japanese thing. In this small park called "Chofu Central Park", there's this area where Japanese children can train to be adults. They have their cordoned-off area where they practice all the good traffic habits they'll require later in life.

As you can see, it's quite big, and it comes with lane lines, direction indicators, and several special kid-sized traffic lights. It's never to early to train those children for societal conventions! Of course, the parents are watching to make sure nobody develops any bad driving habits. It's pretty amusing (and slightly chilling) to see a whole crowd of Japanese 5-year-olds stopped at a fake traffic light, patiently waiting for it to green before proceeding even though there is acutally no traffic in the other direction.

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