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The Art of Walking: Unraveling Japan’s Foot-Travel Culture and Its Implications for Longevity

the art of walking japan

Walking isn’t just a mode of transportation in Japan; it’s a deeply embedded cultural practice. The Japanese often walk more than 10,000 steps a day, a habit supported by a range of socio-economic and environmental factors. This culture has not only influenced Japan’s urban design but also contributed to the health and well-being of its people.

The Health Connection

Kyoto University recently conducted a groundbreaking study that delved into the walking habits of 4,165 individuals aged 65 or older in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture. The research monitored their activities over four years, starting from 2013.

The findings were striking. Mortality rates due to heart and vascular abnormalities, such as myocardial and cerebral infarctions, declined by 8.1% for those walking one or two days and 8.4% for those walking three to seven days a week. This highlighted the tangible health benefits of regular walking, echoing the results of numerous previous studies.

The Culture of Walking: A Deep Dive

Beyond health implications, walking in Japan is a multifaceted phenomenon, influenced by various factors:

  1. Pedestrian-Friendly Facilities: Urban design in Japan prioritizes pedestrian comfort. Sidewalks are mostly flat and free from obstacles. Traffic regulations are rigorously followed, with citizens crossing only at designated areas. Interestingly, resting areas are rare, reflecting a society constantly on the move.
  2. High Taxi Fares: The preference for walking over taxis is often due to the high taxi fares. In Tokyo, taxi costs start at approximately 500 yen (around Rp 56,000) for the first 1,096 meters, making walking or public transport more economical options.
  3. Subtropical Climate: Japan’s four distinct seasons offer a variety of walking experiences. Spring, in particular, offers comfortable temperatures for outdoor activities. Compared to places like Jakarta, Japan’s weather can be more favorable for walking.
  4. Clean and Unobstructed Sidewalks: Sidewalks are solely for pedestrians. Unlike many other places, one won’t find street vendors occupying these spaces.
  5. Safety and Respect: The absence of catcalling or inappropriate gestures enhances the sense of security and comfort for all, especially women. It’s a reflection of the broader societal norms that prioritize respect and dignity.

Additional Insights into Japanese Walking Culture


Walking in Japan is more than just a means to an end. It is a complex interplay of health, urban design, societal norms, history, economics, and environmental considerations. The culture of walking has shaped Japan’s urban landscapes and contributed to the well-being and longevity of its people.

It’s an inspiring case study for the world, demonstrating how simple daily practices can have profound impacts on the broader fabric of society. The Japanese culture of walking is not merely about getting from point A to point B; it’s a pathway to a healthier, more respectful, and harmonious way of living.

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