Ever wondered why Japan uses the English hand in traffic? What's the point of it? In this article, we will try to answer this question clearly and also understand how the English hand came about and why some countries use it.
For those who don't know, English hand is when traffic and cars circulate on the left. Therefore, the driver's steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and the person needs to hitch with the left hand. Some might imagine that this is a nightmare for righties.
Also, oncoming traffic is coming from the right, passing is on the right, and pedestrians should look right first. Roundabouts are circled clockwise, bus stops and signs are usually on the left.
My goal is to clarify every matter involving the English hand. That's why we'll 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 crashing into walls. Finally they saw that the best thing is to have the steering wheel on the side where the cars circulate.
The English hand was created because medieval knights held their swords with their right hand and kept to their left to attack opponents more easily. This idea was spread throughout the world by knights, soldiers and coachmen.
The French hand that we use in Brazil was influenced by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was left-handed and believed that right-hand traffic was better to have a distant view of enemies. There was a great rivalry between the English and the French.
This sense of circulation created by the rivalry of France and England was applied not only to the streets, but to 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 propagating the French hand, as they wanted to be different from the British and switched to the French hand.
Another explanation for the popularization of the French hand is that most agricultural production carts circulated on the right side. This happened 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 in the world.
Currently most countries use the French hand, only 76 countries use the English hand and Japan is one of them. Now the time has come to understand why Japan continues to use the English hand, even though it is the US mascot (brinks).
Why does Japan use English hand?
Japan is one of the few non-Commonwealth countries that use left-hand driving. Japan was never colonized by England either, so why use the English hand?
It is believed that since the Edo Period (1603-1869) Japan was already circulating on the left. The samurai, like the English knights, hung their swords on the left side of the waist and walked to the left on the roads.
One of the reasons was to prevent the swords from accidentally colliding when passing next to another Samurai. A practice used in feudal castles that spread throughout the country in the villages.
There is a theory 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 railways in the 19th century, which began in 1872.
Both the United States and the French tried to approach Japan to help build the railroads, but it was the British who won. Soon the electric trams and horses of Japan adopted the English hand.
It was around 1900 that automobiles began to appear. In 1902 the police Tokyo ordered pedestrians to stay on the left side of roads, but it wasn't until 1924 that left-hand driving was mandated as official law.
Curiosities involving the English hand and Japan
In Okinawa, where he always drove on the left. However, with the defeat in Second World War, the USA made the province 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 signs and bus stops because of this mess created by the US.
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 stationary 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 a right-hand steering wheel like Japan?
In Japan there are imported cars with left-hand steering wheel. 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 with the steering wheel.
Other countries that use the English hand
Currently left-hand traffic in Europe is present in: United Kingdom, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Malta and Cyprus. All were part of the British Empire and do not have borders with countries that use the French hand.
Other countries driving on the left in Asia are Thailand, Indonesia, Bhutan, Nepal, East Timor and Japan. In South America, only Guyana and Suriname drive on the left, as do most Oceanian countries such as New Zealand and Australia.
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 due to pressure from the rest of the world.
Which do you prefer? The English hand or the Left hand? It really seems to be easier to shift gears 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 an intersection on the Brazilian border with Guyana that converts directions? Since in Guyana the cars circulate using the English hand on the left side of the track.