A local resident reveals the real reason why their roads are wider than in other parts of Japan.
It has often been said there are no stupid questionsand no one knows that better than our Japanese-speaking reporter Seiji Nakazawa. His inquisitive mind led him to question chefs about serving katsudon in police interrogation rooms and to probe telemarketers where they obtained his personal information, and this desire to find out exactly why things are the way they are is part of what makes him a good reporter.
So when he was in Hokkaido recently, playing a concert with his band in Asahikawa, Seiji’s inquisitive mind began to spin at the sight of the roads. You see, in Asahikawa and in the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo, the roads are wide and some are even three or four lanes.
Wide roads make large cities appear larger, but this is true not only in central areas – in quieter areas where there would normally be only one lane each way in most mainland cities, you can find two-lane roads or roads with extra wide shoulders.
▼ There are even large sidewalks for that! It’s a luxury for Seiji, who grew up in Osaka and lives in Tokyo, two cities where sidewalks off main streets are rare.
Putting two and two together, Seiji simply concluded that the larger than usual roads were due to the fact that Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture, has more land available. However, the reporter in him wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery, so he decided to ask a local, and when he heard their answer, it all made sense.
The reason the roads in Hokkaido are so wide is…
▼ “In winter, one lane becomes unusable due to snow removal.”
“Of course!” Seiji thought as soon as he heard this answer from the local. He suddenly remembered that when he was driving to Hokkaido in the winter, the roads seemed crowded with walls of snow on both sides.
Hokkaido is known for its heavy snowfall, so extra space would be needed in winter to clear the way for traffic, and while he assumed these piles of snow had accumulated on the sidewalks, it made sense for them to sit on the alley.
While people in the snowy areas might have guessed the reason Hokkaido’s roads are so wide, it was a revelation for our city. This just goes to show that you should never be ashamed to ask questions, no matter how silly they may seem. There’s a good chance it will open your eyes to new insights, and if you ask the right people, it might even lead you to some amazing finds!