One thing I can’t quite get over since being here – a majority of central Tokyo streets and areas (mainly those surrounding the train/tube stations and big shopping centres) are non-smoking.
Laden with no smoking signs engraved on the pavements, you have to stand in designated smoking areas to enjoy a puff – and the majority of people seem to happily comply. Apart from the odd gaijins like myself who’re used to being able to puff away freely when outside. So imagine my surprise when I got stopped outside Shinjuku station by some old man dressed in uniform and waving his arms before directing my cigarette into his portable ashtray where it was promptly extinguished… :S
I still can’t quite decide what to make of this – on one hand I can see why they’ve done it, amongst other things some kids have apparently been injured quite badly by people holding cigarettes on their side while walking, but on the other hand you’re basically saying you can smoke indoors (which you can do in most places in Tokyo) but not outdoors. A pretty weird one, considering the recent push to ban indoor smoking in Europe and the US.
And of course Japanese people seem to be pretty obedient – I’ve not seen many people breaking the smoking ban round stations…