Why Japan Has Left-Hand Traffic

If you live in the West, you probably have only a passing familiarity with the geographically small but economically powerful nation of Japan. It’s the country that brought us PlayStations, anime, and tiny cars. But there are a lot of surprising quirks of Japanese culture most westerners aren’t familiar with.

When you think of driving on the left side of the road, which country do you think of? If you live in Europe or North America, jolly old England comes to mind. India, Australia, and South Africa are also reasonable guesses. These countries, and most of the others with left-side driving, were once part of the British empire, so it’s no wonder they inherited the UK’s driving habits. But Japan was never part of the British Empire, so why they drive on the right?

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They Drive on the Left 0:31
The Kit-Kat is Huge 2:09
KFC for Christmas 3:55
The Only Emperor 5:34
Vending Machines Everywhere 6:55
Old Technology 8:48

#japan #cars #brightside

Asfaw Wossen with King Fuad I of the Kingdom of Egypt in 1931: By Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-12834, CC BY-SA 3.0 de https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amha_Selassie#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-12834,_Kronprinz_von_Abessinien_und_K%C3%B6nig_Fuad_I..jpg
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– It turns out that while Japan was never a dominion of Her Majesty, British companies were responsible for building Japan’s first railways in the 1870s. They brought their lane preference with them.
– Kit-Kat sounds almost exactly like the common Japanese phrase Kitto Katsu. This translates to “You will surely win,” and is the cultural equivalent of an English speaker saying, “good luck.” Nestlé was quick to seize on the luckiest bit of free advertising in history, leading the Kit-Kat to become the most popular chocolate bar in Japan.
– Finding out that KFC is considered a traditional Christmas dinner in Japan might come as a shock to some people. Customers will line up around the block and to-go orders must be made months in advance to guarantee they’ll be enough to go around.
– Japan became the sole holder of an imperial title following the collapse of the Ethiopian monarchy in 1974. While the Emperor no longer wields direct power, he continues to hold a position of extreme cultural importance as both head of state and of spiritual traditions. In addition to being the last Empire standing, Japan’s Yamato dynasty is the oldest royal family in the world, allegedly dating all the way back to the year 660 BC.
– While plenty of Japanese vending machines sell traditional snack foods, the sky’s the limit as far as automated sales are concerned. This includes neat but relatively reasonable things such as fresh fruit and hot coffee, as well as oddities such as clothing, shoes, umbrellas, surgical masks, and even cassette tapes.
– While most of the Japanese companies you’ve heard of are sprawling multinationals with multibillion-dollar incomes, huge corporations actually represent a tiny fraction of the local market. With small and medium-sized businesses dominating Japan’s economy, most workplaces don’t have the resources to update their technology regularly.

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