The obedience of rain



In Japan, if the weather forecast says it’s going to rain, then it rains, and if the forecast says it won’t rain, then it doesn’t.

Having spent time in both Norfolk and Malaysia, where it rains if it feels like it, and nobody has any idea what the weather will be like in five minutes, let alone five days, I am in awe of the skill of these meteorologists.  But then this is Japan, where everyone and everything follows the rules, including the weather.

As soon as it starts to rain, a little man appears at every road junction –

– dressed in waterproofs and wielding a baton, he swings into action as soon as the green man appears on the crossing sign.  He stands on the crossing to stop any motorists, blinded by the drizzle, from mowing down the pedestrians on the crossing.

I wondered what these men do when it’s not raining – because there must be thousands of them across the country.  But at least they know well in advance when they’ll be needed, thanks to the forecast.

I also couldn’t help thinking that if there was a list of the countries where you’re most likely to get run over on a pedestrian crossing, Japan wouldn’t be on it.  Instead, it would be top of the list of countries where you’re least likely to be flattened mid-crossing.

And it’s not just the rain that’s organised – the people are too.

Everyone has an umbrella, which is produced when the first raindrops appear, and neatly furled whenever they’re not using it, like when they’re on the train, regardless of how wet and soggy it is.  I felt very under-dressed with my skanky old Ikea brolley, so had to go out and buy a smarter one after my first rainy day.

Once you get to work, or to a shop, there’s a special umbrella drying machine –

– so you queue up in an orderly way to dry your umbrella –

– and then hang it on the special umbrella rack –

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a country that does detail in a big, big way.