Japanese traffic

I really like Japan. I love the scenery, the coastline, the sea, the mountains, the cities, the high-techness and hugeness of Tokyo, the half-city half-close-to-nature city that is Atsugi, and I absolutely love the train system, because it never fails and the trains are never late. However, Japan does have it's bad points, and the traffic system is one of them.

You will probably expect that the main reason for this rant is our trip to Izu from last weekend, when we rented a car and got stuck in traffic jams for hours and hours. But no. Besides the annoying fact that there's just too many cars and not enough roads in Japan, the traffic is actually quite pleasant. Similar to Holland, and people are quite nice to you. The driving etiquette is quite similar to Holland. People are probably more polite even. In cars that is.

But the trouble starts when they get out of the car, both on foot and on bicycle. Anybody who's been to Tokyo knows that there is really no system for walking. People are traditionally supposed to walk on the left, and then in some area's and station's you're supposed to keep to the right, which results in everybody walking in the middle. The same goes for public squares, malls, and open places inside stations. I don't know if it's just me or if it happens to everyone, but Japanse people have an incredible knack of finding the path that makes that crosses my path exactly when I am there, and I need to change my path or slow down in order to avoid bumping into the annoying Japanese person. Not to mention the annoying Japanese girls that decide to stop at the exit of an escalator or in the middle of the stairs to send a text message on their phone... It's a problem inherent to Japan, and quite easily explained: there's just too many people!

But it gets worse. Driving your bike in any city center is a truly horrible experience if you are trying to get somewhere fast. I would consider myself a tolerant person. Maybe even a nice person. But the Japanese people never cease to piss me off completely when I am driving my bike. You can ring your bell all you like but they won't go out of the way. Of course, a large part of this problem is that Japan does not have separate roads for bicycles. You can choose the pedestrian path and kill all the old ladies, or take the car road and get run over. Nice. Sometimes people do get out of the way, though. They get out of the way while you are still far away, and then decide to go to the other side of the path just before you arrive, which forces you to make an emergency maneuver which will either let you fall in a ditch or die a horrible death in front of a truck.

So no, I'm not very frustrated by Japanese car traffic. Walking and driving a bicycle could be more enjoyable though. Having said that, I am thinking about a bicycle trip through Japan before I leave. Since I have an unlimited amount of time after my contract ends I can go anywhere without time restrictions ^_^ I'm considering buying a nice bicycle and doing a random drive all through Japan, taking with me only the bare necessities. But I still haven't decided if I'm staying or not in August. I'm going to relax, and look at my life calmly until August. Let's see where my life will take me.


Japan has too many people! If only they had half as many people and twice as many roads...

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