Man parks over sidewalk guide for the blind; gets lesson in manners from 4th-grader

By Casey Baseel

There’s still a lot of room for improvement regarding the availability of elevators in Japan’s train stations and other public facilities, but the country doesn’t have a totally sub-par record in helping the disabled retain their mobility. For example, on the sidewalks of most moderately large streets, you’ll find a row of bumps that operate as a guide for blind pedestrians, indicating not only any curves in the walkway but also warning of intersections and steps ahead.

Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot. And while Japanese culture often errs on the side of not sticking your nose in other people’s business, it looks like one elementary school student couldn’t let this go without giving the driver a piece of his mind, even if the inconsiderate owner wasn’t anywhere to be found right then.

Called tenji blocks in Japanese, the indicators primarily come in two patterns. Oblong bars show the general direction the path continues in, and a field of dots is a caution sign placed in front of stairways or drops, and also intersections with other pedestrian paths or places where they’re bisected by automobile traffic.

The system kind of breaks down, though, when someone sticks something in the way of what’s marked as a useable path, like, for instance, an entire car.

It’s possible the driver simply forgot about the tenji blocks, since in many towns they’re so ubiquitous that unless you’re actively using them, your brain gradually stops registering them and eventually they sort of blend into the sidewalk. Maybe the driver thought that since he has a compact kei car, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to navigate around it, or was planning to come right back and move his car in just a few minutes.

Whatever the case, he apparently was gone long enough to inconvenience at least one blind person, and also long enough for someone who saw what happened to compose a stern reminder about proper parking protocol.

The note, taped to the passenger-side window, reads: “A vision-impaired person was relying on the tenji blocks to walk, and ended up stumbling right into your car. Please put more thought into where you park. Please think about why the tenji blocks are there.”

The firm yet diplomatically phrased reprimand is signed, “A Fourth Grader at Haebaru Elementary School.”

Japanese Internet commenters had the following to say:

“The driver should be ashamed of himself.” "Why is he parking so far up on the sidewalk anyway?” “Gutsy move, but you can’t argue with what the kid said.” “Even I feel a little guilty, and I didn’t even do anything!” “I’m skeptical about whether the writer is really a fourth grader, but either way, the car’s owner is garbage.”

Regarding the question about the legitimacy of the writer’s claimed identity, we’re not entirely sure what to believe. While the characters are neatly written, Japanese schools, and society in general, tend to be sticklers about penmanship, and if anything, the spacing and not quite parallel lines seem like signs that the paper is indeed the work of a kid. In any case, we have a hunch that the hallways and classrooms of Okinawa’s Haebaru Elementary School are kept extremely tidy.

Source: Hamster Sokuho

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- This new convenience store isn’t so convenient for the blind -- Rodin’s “The Thinker” goes thoughtless in Japan -- New iPad App “The Legend of Momotaro” Brings Japanese Folk Tale to Life

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Plenty of this type of behavior in our (coughs) harmony-loving society

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I once saw a blind man walking down the road, with his cane going back and forth: left, right, left, right. A car was parked where it shouldn't have been, and was blocking his way. The blind man went around it, but as he passed he kept up his back and forth cane motion.... left, whack, left whack, left, whack. Along the entire length of the car.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

“Gutsy move, but you can’t argue with what the kid said.”

If they think leaving an anonymous message is "gutsy", Japan has bigger problems..

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Kudos to the kid.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If only the olive would take such proactive measures there wouldn't be so many problems like this.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

So where were the little Hitlers in green uniforms when they were needed? (Or don't they have them in Okinawa?)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Awesome. I do not think speaking up against people like this driver hurts the 'wa' it actually helps make the world a little better. But I wonder why the writer choose to say this:

Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot.

In this case, good manners do not dictate keeping the path clear, the LAW does. The parking ticket is expensive, like 18,000yen. I wouldn't mind the police helping the national debt by getting out there and going ticket writing crazy :)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I work in Japanese schools and the elementary students can be quite eloquent and intelligent in thinking and acting. Heck, most children in the world demonstrate at least a few moments of thought-provoking material for adults to ponder. That kanji though... Wow. It's really neat. The penmanship is indeed very neat. The language, seems beyond 4th grade speech. Impressive.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I posted a comment about traffic parking wardens not being around when they are needed and enquired if there are such things in Okinawa. My comment was deemed off-topic and removed yet the article is about an illegally parked car. Strange logic indeed.

Moderator: What's strange is your use of the expression "little Hitlers." A poor contribution from you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let's hope when this kid becomes an adult he still thinks this way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bravo, kid, Bravo! In some places, that car would get keyed all down the side. The driver is lucky to only get a handwritten note. Schooled by a grade-schooler. Doh!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fourth Grader from Haebaru Elementary School has a bright future, there's a part of me that would like to this imbecile vehicle taken to the crusher then dumped back on there doorstep with both a parking ticket and a bill for the costs. Off to anger management I guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

got be student. Older people could smash windows and damage doors,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

as long as there are no security cameras around just put a nice big key scratch along the side, works wonders

0 ( +0 / -0 )

See parking like this on paths all the time. Not defending, but if cars were allowed to park on the roadside, it wouldn't be an issue..... Damned if you do, damned if you don't.... Have to chuckle at how driving on the path is acceptable here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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