In most countries traffic lights have the standard red, yellow and green colors. In Japan, green traffic lights are considered “blue” and described as ao shingō (青信号). In modern Japanese although there is a word for “green” (”midori 緑”), which is a relatively new term that has only been used since the Heian Period. Even after “midori” came into use, green was still thought of as a shade of “ao” instead of an independent color and only became distinguished after World War II. In today’s Japan the word “ao” is still used to describe certain items (such as vegetables, traffic lights) that are actually green. The word “ao” can also mean “youth”.
Some other color perception differences in Japan are – while most gaijin think the sun is yellow, Japanese children will always draw the the sun in red (like the Japanese flag) and while gaijin think of the moon as white, in Japan the moon is considered yellow.
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