Japanese gardens, bonsai trees, beaded curtains, theatre performances and other accoutrements from the land of the Mikado have taken root abroad since the late 19th century.
But a pedestrian crossing designed to imitate one in Tokyo?
Yes, says the Nikkei Marketing Journal (22 January). In December 2017, Singapore introduced what is there called a scramble walk crossing—known as an X crossing in the UK—at its famous Orchard Road shopping street. Currently operated on an experimental basis on weekends and holidays only, the crossing is said to have been inspired by the famous scramble crossing at the intersection by Hachiko Hiroba on the north side of Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, a place of organised confusion that attracts overseas tourists who go there just to photograph throngs of Japanese crossing the street.
Singapore follows on the heels of London, which in November 2009 adopted the same type of crossing at Oxford Circus, at a cost of £5mn.
Every two minutes, pedestrians in Singapore will have 40 seconds to walk across the intersection. The crossing, located near Somerset Station on the local underground, will make Japanese residents and visitors feel at home, since nearby are branches of Japanese stores such as Takashimaya, Isetan and even the Don Quixote discount shop, which opened its first outlet in Singapore in 2016. One big difference is that the ban on smoking in public in Singapore is strictly enforced, with heavy fines for violators.
While a decision whether to adopt the scramble walk permanently is pending, the experiment has gained praise from locals since it reduces pedestrian waiting time. Shops in the area are also said to be in favour of it, as they have been feeling the heavy competition from shopping malls in the island nation’s suburbs.