Did you know that in Japan the Japanese call the green light blue? The Japanese word for green is midori (緑) and blue is hi (青い) and that's what he calls the green lights, why? I've always heard discussions about blue and green, and indeed some traffic lights in Japan look blue. The reality is that there are many curiosities regarding this subject, which we will see in this article.
We all know that the primary colors are blue, yellow and red. In the old days in Japan things were also the same, they defined the colors as follows:
- Black - kuroi - 黒い- Dark colors in general;
- White - shiroi -白い- Light colors in general;
- Red - akai -赤い- Bright colors in general;
- Blue青い - aoi - Bright and colorful colors in general;
So much so that it is just these four colors that are adjectives in the い (i) form. The other colors, even the yellow primary are spelled differently:
- 黄色 - kiiro - Yellow;
- 緑 - midori - Green;
- ピンク - pinku - Pink;
Basically in the past there was no green, so it was called blue. Why do green things end up being called blue nowadays? Let's take the ocean as an example, up close it's green, from afar it's blue. Many also confuse green cars with blue.
The word green entered Japan in the Heian Period (794 - 1185)
The traffic light is not the only blue one
The truth is that the ideogram for blue (青) cannot be literally translated as blue, because it represents light colors in itself and is present in several words that should be green like:
- 青葉 - aoba - Fresh leaves (blue leaf?);
- 青芝 - aoshi - Lawns (rarely used);
- 青りんご - aoringo - Green apple (blue apple?);
- 青山 - Aoyama - District in Tokyo (blue mountain?);
- 青二才 - aonisai - Newbie (Wouldn't a mature one be green?);
- 青春 - seishun - Youth;
- 青年 - seinen - Youth;
Many of the words and concepts that we have listed are now associated in the West with being colored green. With the introduction of green into the Japanese language, these words that are left are just relics that have not died. In every language there are words that don't make sense but we keep using them.
However, traffic lights arrived in Japan even after the existence of blue and green. The reality is that he was even set green light (緑信号). But the Japanese realized that traffic signs were more blue, so society began to equate the green light with blue, which resulted in this pattern of calling the green light blue. Even when the Japanese government was forced to maintain a greener standard, it agreed that the sign should continue to be called blue (青信号).