No Way Through – Blocked by Animals!
Japan is bursting at the seams with all kinds of animal-themed stuff.
But well away from the worlds of advertising, toys and character merchandise, there exists perhaps the strangest and most extreme example of mainstream animal penetration into everyday Japanese life. It’s seen on roads and streets all over the country.
Yes, whereas in other countries roadwork, construction and maintenance sites are usually indicated by a presence of dirty and brightly striped “danger” signs and barricades, such activity in Japan tends to be displayed very differently.
In what way differently? It’s surrounded by cute animals.
the animals show the way!
A miscellany of creatures large and small has been adopted for the purpose. A veritable menagerie. Everything from mammals to rodents.
Rabbits, storks and elephants.
Cute as they are, I try to imagine whose idea this was and how it might have been originally proposed. “Hey everyone, this construction stuff is dirty and intrusive – let’s put cute animals around it.”
I can also only speculate on the main intention.
It could be an attempt to reassure people that the loud noises and heavy machinery are in fact friendly, nice and nothing to fear?
Perhaps it’s trying to distract people from the work, or to evoke in them a sense of warmth to neutralize any negativity they might be feeling due to the inconvenience?
It could encourage youngsters to take an interest in construction?
Regardless of the original intention, I think it succeeds in all the above. It definitely adds a smile where it otherwise wouldn’t be.
Thanks to Edward Harrison, ykanazawa1999 and Corycat for some of the images used.
And for anyone interested in Japanese character-shaped mascots and objects check out Ed’s book Idle Idol, filled with great images and explanations of an incredible variety, from the iconic to the obscure. Highly recommended.