Trip Start Jul 22, 2006
59Trip End Aug 15, 2010
Would you believe that last week I completely forgot about posting because my new schedule, which has me coming home before 5 o'clock on Mondays (when it used to be closer to 7:30), had me completely forgetting what day it was? You'd think an extra couple of hours of free time would have meant an earlier post, but there you are.
My new job is turning out to be quite a delight. I co-teach a class of ten children aged 3 to 5 and for the most part, they're good-natured, easy-going kids. Of course there is some whining and not-listening and refusing to share toys (and it really is worse on grey, rainy days!), but on the whole, they're sinfully adorable. Moreover, they seem to appreciate my sense of style: most days, I get at least one comment along the lines of, "Miss Adèle
That's not what I wanted to write about today, though.
I'm not a person who spends all that much time looking at the ground while I walk, but some things just catch my eye. When I first arrived in Japan, for example, I was mightily impressed by the pretty manhole covers around Tokyo. Each ward seems to have slightly different ones.
In subway and train stations, and along many of the larger boulevards, you see raised yellow lines leading along one side of the sidewalk, which change to raised dots at corners or the edge of the train platform. These are so the visually impaired can navigate using a cane. For the rest of us, they add an extra hazard to walking in high heels or riding a bicycle.
Another thing that struck me was that instead of a big red STOP sign, many intersections have "TOMARE" written on the pavement itself. On bigger streets with several lanes, you get directions and speed limits on the asphalt. Also, since cyclists use the sidewalks, here, stop signs for bicycles, painted on the ground, are a common sight at street corners.
Japan is very much a smoking country, but I understand that a few years ago, there was a nation-wide (or at least Kantou-wide) campaign to get people to stop smoking on the streets. As a result, many sidewalks boast "No Smoking" signs with helpful graphics.
In some neighbourhoods, the sidewalks were apparently deemed too dull, so they were decorated. Along the main drag of Akihabara's electronics district, for instance, there are images of various electric devices, sort of like the Appliance Walk of Fame. And on a street not too far from where I live, the sidewalk features water-dwelling creatures.
Please excuse the angle of some of these photos -- taking pictures of the ground isn't as easy as I thought it was!