Local resident reveals the real reason why their roads are wider than other parts of Japan.

It’s often been said that there are no stupid questions, and nobody knows that better than our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa. His enquiring mind has led him to ask chefs about serving katsudon in police interrogation rooms and probe telemarketers about how they got 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 up in Hokkaido recently, playing a gig with his band in Asahikawa, Seiji’s enquiring mind began whirring at the sight of the roads. You see, in Asahikawa, and in Hokkaido’s capital city of Sapporo, the roads are wide, with some even having three or four lanes.

The wide roads make the big cities seem bigger, but it’s not just central areas — in quieter areas, where there would ordinarily be only one lane each way in most towns on the mainland, you’ll find two-lane roads or ones with unusually wide shoulders.

▼ Plus, there are even large sidewalks! That’s a luxury for Seiji, who grew up in Osaka and lives in Tokyo — two cities where sidewalks off the main streets are rare to come by.

Putting two and two together, Seiji simply figured that the larger than normal roads were due to the fact that there was more land space per person in Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture. 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 response, it all made sense.

The reason why roads in Hokkaido are so wide is because…

▼ “In winter, one lane becomes unusable due to snow removal.”

“Of course!” Seiji thought as soon as he heard this reply from the local. He suddenly recalled how, when he went to Hokkaido in winter, the roads had seemed cramped with walls of snow on either side.

Hokkaido is known for its heavy snowfalls so extra space would be needed in winter to clear the way for traffic, and though he’d assumed those piles of snow had built up on the sidewalks, it made sense for them to actually be sitting on a lane.

While people in snowy areas might’ve guessed the reason why Hokkaido’s roads are so wide, it was a revelation for our city slicker. It just goes to show that you should never by shy about asking questions, no matter how silly they might seem. There’s a good chance it’ll open your eyes to new insights, and if you enquire with the right people, it can even lead you to unusual finds!

Photos © SoraNews24
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