On Monday, December 21, 2008 I went out to get my English-language newspapers (The Japan Times and The Daily Yomiuri), another bicyclist crashed into me in the middle of the crosswalk at the Minamidai Intersection. Neither of us stopped or said much of anything to the other, and although it was the other guy’s fault he probably blamed me and privately cursed the foreigner. It was some man of indeterminate age on a racing bike, wearing body-fitting racing bike gear with a racing bike safety helmet. As I waited for the light to turn green (on the south side of the intersection looking north) I looked across the street to see what was in front of me and anticipate the crossing: some pedestrians and two cyclists (on the north side looking south). As usual, people - even bicyclists - ignore the bicycle lane painted on the pavement to the left of the pedestrian zone and just cross the street any which way. So I knew crossing would be like negotiating a little maze. The racer bike guy had his head down, his helmet to the wind like he was racing, or something, and I knew that he was not looking directly in front of him. So when the light turned green and everyone moved onto the pavement I gently veered to the left to try to open up more space between me and this guy that I could already see was drifting, and the pedestrian that I could see we were both going to pass on the same side. But it wasn’t enough. I could see him drifting right into me and I knew I did not have time, or space, or enough speed to clear him, so I picked up as much speed as I could in order to try at least to get beside him by the time we both passed the walker and my quick action was enough to prevent a head-on crash. We just side-swiped each other. Like a racer he was riding with his head down and it was only thanks to my action that a more serious incident was avoided. But he probably didn’t see it that way. How could he? He couldn’t see anything at all because his head, face and eyes were all pointed downward! It is a characteristic of Japanese that they do not pay attention to what they are doing - or much attention, anyway. They do not heed their environment and look out for themselves. Instead, everyone expects indulgence from others - that is, that everyone will look out for everyone else. It’s called “amae no kozo” which translates as something like “indulgence.” So people do stupid things trusting that others will watch out for them and it will be okay. That is a feature of Asia’s group culture and it appears to work. It is often remarked how Japan is comparatively much safer than North America, for example. But it only appears that way.