I live in downtown Fukushima City, and I get around by bicycle when the weather is fine, and on foot when it is rainy or snowy. So I am a bit a “Crosswalk” expert.
First of all, most Japanese people are rule followers and most of them will not cross on a red light. A few will (especially if the street is deserted) but many won’t.
Second, there seems to be two kinds of crosswalks. One is where you MUST press the button, or you will NEVER get across because your light will never turn green. The other kind is where the button is only for people who have physical problems that cause them to take a long time to cross. Unless you are elderly or have a bad leg, you don’t want to press that button because it will make your light last an extended length of time, and that’s not very nice to the drivers of cars.
This is the first kind. All pedestrians should push this button.
It says at top in red: “Omachi Kudasai.” Please Wait
At the bottom in black: “Oudan Hokou Shya wa Botan o Osite Kudasai.” “Pedstrians crossing the street–please press the button.”
This is the secon kind. You are clued in that this button is not for you by the drawing of the person with a cane. (Unless of course, you are a person with a cane.)
It says, “Karada no Fujiyuu no Kata no (I can’t read that character because it has peeled off) Botan desu.”
(I think that the character I can’t read is “O” and indicates pushing 押)
Anyhoo….This means: “This is a button for disabled people.”
So DON’T PRESS IT UNLESS YOU ARE DISABLED OR ELDERLY, ETC!!!!!
So you can see, there are two different buttons. Since I am a bona fide expert on our crosswalks I know that near my home, there’s a certain button and if you don’t push it, you will never ever ever get across….I see people just standing there waiting and waiting and waiting. So of course I push it. And when you push it, the light instantly becomes green. So that’s something to be careful about!
Also be careful in general here on the streets. Accidents are quite common in Japan…….