Even people in Japan are surprised to learn what they’re for.

From vending machines to train jingles and towering digital screens above city streets, there are a lot of things that stand out in Japan for first-time visitors.

For those who’ve been here awhile, though, the weird and unusual tends to blend into the everyday, becoming something that’s taken for granted without a second thought, even if nobody really understands why it’s there in the first place.

Case in point is the red-and-yellow markers seen on the side of stairs at some Japanese train stations. These markings are most common at major railway hubs, but not a lot of people really know what they’re actually there for. Here to enlighten us all is Twitter user @a0s4u0k2a1, who shared the below tweet online, with an explanation that had people so surprised the news quickly went viral.

The above tweet reads:

“This is a mark found at certain train stations. It’s something I’m thankful for. Since I have strabismus and astigmatism, stairs look distorted even when there’s a handrail. If someone is with me they can help me use the stairs, but on my own it’s impossible. With this mark alone, I can use the stairs safely. If they had this at stations throughout Japan, imagine how safely I could use the stairs. I’d love everyone to know about this.”

After receiving over 72,000 likes and 43,000 retweets, @a0s4u0k2a1 followed up with a tweet that read:

“This mark is called a stair recognition mark. Even if your sight isn’t impaired, it works well for those who are tired or when it’s dark. I’d be happy for as many people as possible to remember this.”

They also went into more detail regarding how the mark helps them, saying that going up the stairs isn’t so bad, but when going down they feel as if they are about to fall, as the stairs look warped and slightly out of focus. This makes the middle of the stairs an impossible place to descend, and even going down the stairs on the side while holding the handrail doesn’t do enough to make things safe.

People in Japan were surprised to learn about the stair recognition mark, leaving comments like:

“Wow, I never knew a mark like this existed.”
“I’m retweeting this because it’s important for people to know.”
“I’ve seen these marks but never thought twice about it. Now I’ll appreciate them every time I walk down the stairs.”
“Finally I’ve found out what these marks are for! They should make these a standard feature everywhere.”
“How wonderful that this exists to help people.”

A large number of commenters also chimed in to say they suffer from similar sight impediments and have found these marks to be incredibly useful as well. Architects both in Japan and overseas also left comments, either saying they’ve used this design in their buildings, or plan to now use it in future.

It just goes to show how small things can go a big way to bringing about positive change to people’s lives. Just like the two holes in Japanese recycling bins and the double hooks on the backs of toilet doors, which have equally surprising reasons for being there.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@a0s4u0k2a1

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