Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the Left?

Have you ever wondered why Japan uses the English hand in traffic? What's the point of that? In this article, we will try to answer that question clearly and also understand how the English hand came about and why some countries use it.

For those who do not know, the English hand is when traffic and cars drive on the left. Therefore, the driver's steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and the person needs to pass the ax with his left hand. Some may imagine that this is a nightmare for the right-handed.


In addition, traffic in the opposite direction comes from the right, overtaking is done from the right and pedestrians must look to the right first. The roundabouts are circled in a clockwise direction, bus stops and signs are usually located on the left.

My goal is to clarify any matter involving the English hand. So we will leave a summary to facilitate your navigation through the article.

How did the English hand come about?

In the beginning the steering wheels of the cars were in the center of the vehicle. Soon they tried to put the steering wheel on the side that circled the sidewalk to avoid running over pedestrians and hitting walls. Finally they saw that it is best for the steering wheel to be on the side where the cars circulate.

The English hand was created because medieval knights wielded swords with their right hand and kept to the left to attack opponents more easily. This idea was spread around the world by horsemen, soldiers and coachmen.

The French hand that we use in Brazil, on the other hand, was influenced by Napoleão Bonaparte, who was left-handed and believed that circulation on the right was better to have a distance view of enemies. There was a great rivalry between the English and the French.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

This sense of circulation created by the rivalry of France and England was applied not only on the streets, but on stairs, sidewalks, railways and other things that involve some circulation.

Until 1936 most countries in the world used the English hand. The United States was largely responsible for spreading the French hand, as they wanted to be different from the British and turned to the French hand.

Another explanation for the popularization of the French hand, is that the majority of agricultural production carts circulated on the right side. This was because he sat on the last horse on the left side in order to whip the others (old march lol).


Influenced by American cars, Brazil adopted the French hand in 1903 and made it official in 1968. The popularization of vehicle manufacturers in the past also helped to spread the French hand around the world.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

Currently most countries use the French hand, only 76 countries use the English hand and Japan is one of them. Now it's time to understand why Japan continues to use the English hand, even though it is a US mascot (brinks).

Why does Japan use an English hand?

Japan is one of the few countries that is not part of the British Commonwealth that uses left-hand driving. Japan was also never colonized by England, so why use the English hand?


It is believed that since the Edo Period (1603-1869), Japan has been circulating on the left. Samurai, like English knights, hung their swords on the left side of the waist and walked on the left on the roads.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

One reason was to prevent the swords from colliding by accident when passing the side of another Samurai. A practice used in feudal castles that spread throughout the country in the villages.

There is a theory that says that a British Prime Minister visited Japan in 1859 and convinced the Japanese to adopt the English hand. Indeed, the British provided technical support in the construction of Japan's railroads in the 19th century, which began operating in 1872.

Both the United States and the French tried to approach Japan to help build the railways, but it was the British who won. Japan's electric trams and horses soon adopted the English hand.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

It was around 1900 that automobiles began to appear. In 1902 the police from Tokyo ordered pedestrians to stay on the left side of the roads, but it was in 1924 that driving on the left was mandated as official law.

Curiosities involving the English hand and Japan

In Okinawa, where he always headed to the left. However, with the defeat in Second World War, the USA caused the province to change the direction of circulation. Fortunately, on July 30, 1978, Okinawa returned to the “English hand”.


The Japanese government had to spend 150 million dollars, where it also replaced 1,000 buses, 5,000 taxis and had to relocate bus signs and bus stops because of this mess created by the USA.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

The English hand is also used on the stairs of train stations, where fast traffic runs on the right and people who go up the stopped escalator are on the left. Ironically, the Osaka region does just the opposite. Of course, not all provinces follow this rule.

Did you know that in North Korea and some other countries, you drive on the right, but most cars are imported from countries that have steering wheels on the right side like Japan?


In Japan there are imported cars with a steering wheel on the left side. They drive normally without any difficulty, only the driver needs to remember that instead of the opposite side, he needs to drive on the side that is behind the wheel.

Other countries that use the English hand

Currently left-wing circulation in Europe is present in: United Kingdom, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Malta and Cyprus. All were part of the British Empire and have no border with countries that use the French hand.

Other countries that drive on the left in Asia are Thailand, Indonesia, Bhutan, Nepal, Timor-Leste and Japan. In South America, only Guyana and Suriname drive on the left, as do most countries in Oceania such as New Zealand and Australia.

Why does Japan use an English hand? Are you driving on the left?

We also have India, South Africa and a total of 75 countries that use the English hand. Many other countries used the English hand for a long time, but ended up abandoning it by pressure from the rest of the world.

Which do you prefer? The English hand or the Left hand? It really seems easier to shift with the right hand, but is it really? If you liked the article, don't forget to share and leave your comments. Thank you and see you next time!

Did you know that in Brazil there is a crossing at the Brazilian border with Guyana that converts directions? Since in Guyana cars are driven using the English hand on the left side of the track.

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