Being Blind in Japan


Ever wonder what it's like walking around blind... and in Japan?  Well lets just say Japan has this on lock... When I first arrived in Japan I noticed raised yellow lines that ran parallel to the road on sidewalks.  I have never seen this before in America.  I am not sure if they have this in bigger more metropolitan cities in the U.S., but as far as I'm concerned this didn't exist in Brittany's world.  So of course I was curious what it was at first.  Until one day I saw a blind person walking using their cane and...  DING. DING. DING...

Photo by Brittany Butters


The raised yellow lines that run parallel to the street are used to direct blind people to their destination.  They follow the lined portion until they run into the dotted portion of the yellow braille paths.  The dotted portion of the walkways can mean various things... For example it can mean you need to turn or stop.  Now obviously you need to stop before you cross the street, but this specific guiding tool has the "stop signal" before stairways, train platforms, building entrances, cross walks, etc.  Pretty much anywhere you should hesitate and/or stop if you're blind, Japan has got your covered.  So just to recap, the raised lines mean "you're good to go" and the raised dots mean "whoa, just hang on a sec".

CAUTION!  A word of caution to all the females (or males) out there that like to wear heels and/or people who drag their feet...  Please, just pay attention to where you walk.  It is very easy to slip on this in your heels.  I can't count the number of times that I saw someone wobble or fall because they weren't paying attention.  If it's raining outside, just keep your distance, "slippery when wet" definitely applies.  Also I will say it isn't the most comfortable thing to walk on even in normal shoes.  I would say prior to learning what this was meant for I was extremely annoyed with braille paths.  Walking on them in my flats was uncomfortable and when I was in a hurry I tripped on them numerous times.  However, since finding out their purpose, my hatred has decreased, BUT for that fleeting moment when I trip on them.... NO COMMENT.



 If you have any questions or comments, you know what to do...