Fukuoka has some of the most creative traffic manners in Japan, but to the uninformed and inexperienced, things may be a bit confusing at first. The following is a set of general guidelines and tips to make sure you can get around just like a native Fukuokan.**
- Never look where you are going. In fact, it’s acceptable to roam around in a daze, tracing an unpredictable zig-zag pattern along the sidewalk. Just imagine yourself as a drunk, disoriented lemming.
- If there are two of you, make sure you space yourselves out just right so you can block bikers from passing you even on a two-meter-wide sidewalk.
- If you are looking at your cell phone, it’s fine to ignore the rest of the world around you–they’ll probably avoid hitting you, anyways. Your text message is more important.
- If a biker dings his/her bell at you because you are doing any of the above, add a rude comment under your breath as they go by, just so they know you feel inconvenienced. This creates an atmosphere of comfort and communication.
- Sidewalks are basically optional. Feel free to walk anywhere you like.
- There is no need to look around before walking into the street.
- If you are a girl in your early 20s, the entire world must yield to you, so do whatever you want. You are superior to everyone.
- You can ride on any side of the road. It doesn’t matter that traffic travels on the left in Japan in every other situation.
- It’s most effective to space out while looking approximately one meter ahead of you at a spot on the ground. Don’t worry about oncoming pedestrians, bikers or cars, because they will probably see you anyways. It’s not your responsibly to watch the road.
- Feel free to text people while biking. Everyone will understand and accommodate your urgent texting needs. Texting and listening to your iPod at the same time earns you bonus points.
- Swerve unpredictably and travel at half the pace of the pedestrians around you. While some may argue that going so slowly entirely defeats the point of using a bicycle, you know better.
- Taxis always have right of way. Pedestrians, bikers, people in wheelchairs, the elderly, even small children must wait for you–it’s their fault if they get hit.
- Hitting pedestrians should generally be avoided, as it may inconvenience your customers or otherwise interfere with business.
- Red lights are 100% optional.
- Crosswalk signals for pedestrians are irrelevant. Pedestrians must still yield to taxis. Feel free to accuse them of being negligent if their legal crossing of the street interferes with your need to drive fast.
- Texting, staring into space, drinking, and looking for items on the floor while driving are all legal, as long as you are going at a reasonable speed (~100 km/h).
- You may hit and cause grave injuries to bikers if it pleases you.
- One-way streets are optional.
- Feel free to stop and contemplate life in the middle of intersection and crosswalks.
- You may suddenly park at random spots on the sidewalk, even in the middle of a crowded street.
Drivers of personal automobiles and mopeds:
- Most taxi driver rules apply. However, you must yield to taxis.
- Mopeds may drive anywhere. Crowded sidewalks are fine–don’t worry about pedestrians, just think of them as inconveniently placed speed-bumps.
- Traffic laws are an optional formality.
- You may drive your convertible onto the sidewalk and park it there to chat with an acquaintance you see walking by (yes, this has happened…).
- Make sure you never exceed 10 km/h. Take your time.
- Never arrive on schedule. You need to make sure your passengers keep on their toes.
- Mumble every stop name so people can’t understand you. This will reduce the number of times people push the “next stop” button.
* Not really.
** This is sarcasm. All of it. Please don’t do these things.