One thing that has always stood out about Japan for me personally is the sidewalks. No matter where you are, you’ll almost always have a little yellow brick road to skip along–though it’s not actually an ode to The Wizard of Oz. In fact, it’s not an ode to anything at all: Those yellow, bumpy tiles are actually guides for the visually impaired. It’s a simple but clever solution–you can easily feel the bumps even through your shoes and they’re even easier to find with a cane. That way, even if you can’t see, you can still be sure you’re walking safely on the sidewalk and know when you’re coming to a turn or crossing.
Well, unless you’re trying to get to this newly built convenience store…
Taken at what looks like a newly constructed convenience store somewhere in rural Japan, these photos show just how important it is to plan ahead. As you can see, someone clearly forgot to install the yellow guide tiles for blind citizens before laying out the park spaces.
▼”Umm…well, everyone likes mazes, right?”
Now, there are two possibilities that we can think of here: On one hand, maybe no one realized what had happened until after they were done painting and figured it was easier to install a ton of tiles than it was to repaint. On the other hand, maybe someone knew exactly what they were doing–why else would they have so freaking many of the little yellow tiles lying around?
▼”Well, we got them on sale at Costco…”
Either way, this clearly is the worst possible path to take to the front door–you’d be literally walking directly in the path of traffic. You’d almost be safer just throwing your hands in the air and running around in circles on a freeway.
▼”Parking lot to the daaaaaaaaaaanger zone!”
We think you’ll agree that, however grateful visually impaired people may be for the tiles’ presence outside the combini, this is some pretty horrible planning. Hopefully anyone who actually need the tiles for navigation will have someone around to point them in a direction that doesn’t take them right through a car lane!
Japanese Internet users were as baffled as we were.
“It’s kind of like a gauntlet, I guess…”
“Someone needs to call a human rights group…”
“Is this really the obviously solution to avoiding places where cars would be?”
“Jeez, just give up on one parking space!!”
“Well, I guess it’s barrier free…”
“Aren’t there usually no guide tiles in the parking lot??”
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before…”
Another Japanese commenter actually had some useful information: The tiles with straight lines are guide tiles–in other words, those are the ones to follow. The tiles with lots of “dots” are caution tiles–they tell you where not to go. Unfortunately, the people laying out the tiles can’t always predict the future, which leads to things like this…
▼Maybe it’s for Mario?
▼Note that these are the dotted tiles, so they’re there just keep people from falling on the tracks.
Or this! Actually, we’re not sure about this one, since, again, these are the dotted tiles, which are meant to let people know where not to go. Then again, we really want to know why they’re trying to keep blind people away from the poles…have they been painted recently?!
▼Maybe that’s where they hide the candy!
And then there’s this. In principle, we guess we have to give the station staff credit for trying to be helpful…but they probably should have put a bit more thought into this sign. It reads: “CAUTION! The yellow tiles for blind people are being repaired, so please be careful where you walk. Station Manager”
▼It’s the thought that counts, right?
Obviously, you could argue, fairly enough, that the sign is less for blind people themselves and more to call attention to the issue so others can help out…though we have a hard time believing that this is anything but more poor planning.
Though, in their defense, at least the people following this route don’t have to chant a magical incantation to get to their destination safely…