Upon first arriving to Tokyo, I noticed many cultural differences from American culture. In Japan, cars drive on the left side of the street, therefore, most of the walkways ask pedestrians to walk on the left side as well. This was something I had to get used to, seeing as I’m so used to walking on the right side! In the subway station, when our group got onto the escalator, we were reminded by Dr. C to stand on the left side, as to let people walk past us on the right side.

This level of respect amazes me! It’s not as if some people are more respectful than others and choose to stand on one side and walk on the other, it’s as if they know no other way. J-walking is of no consequence in many intersections in Tokyo, because all cars are stopped when pedestrians cross the street. Because pedestrian traffic is so dense, pedestrians are prioritized at the same level as drivers. On side streets, the walkways are so compact, many people walk directly on the street, simply moving out the way of a car if one comes about. Walkways, streets, and cars in Tokyo are all very much smaller than what one might see in Detroit or Lansing. I feel as if this allows pedestrians and drivers to coexist better than large cities in Michigan, simply because drivers must be more aware of pedestrians in close quarters, and vice versa. And of course, the cleanliness of Tokyo compared to Detroit or Lansing is astounding. In Michigan, major cities are filthy, even though the streets are filled with trash cans. But in Tokyo, trash cans are scarce, yet litter is scarce as well. This teaches me that it’s not just about what city law and regulation can do for people, but also about what people can do for their cities, in terms of being respectful, efficient, and safe.

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