Japanese “Pushbutton Crosswalk Signals” | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Japanese “Pushbutton Crosswalk Signals”

By Guidable Writers Sep 6, 2017

This post is also available in: Spanish

It is time to learn how to deal with the pushbutton crosswalk signal.
Let’s first take a look at the pushbutton, which you may often see in Japan. Guess what to do.


push button pedestrian crosswalk signal

(all photo: amarun)

To push, or not to push, that is the question.
But how? When? Should I?? What happens then?
Don’t worry. Just a 1 minute read of this article and you will be confident enough to handle any Japanese crosswalk in style.



In Japan, most signalized intersections have pedestrian crosswalk signals that automatically change.

In such locations you will have no doubts about how to cross the zebra when the pedestrian crosswalk signal automatically turns green (blue*). When it is red, don’t cross and just wait until it changes. This is the same as in many other countries. All you have to do is follow the signal. No issue here.

(*One-point lesson. In Japanese, “green” signal to GO is described as あお“blue”, even though the color itself is green.)

Unfortunately, at some point you will surely face a crosswalk signal that does not change automatically. Here comes the challenge!

Generally this type of manual pedestrian crosswalk signal can be found nearby schools. It is especially likely that you’ll find some around primary schools.



Once again, everything will be fine. In this case in order to cross the street, all you have to do is push the orange-colored button by yourself. No need to hesitate, because if you do it will never change! The signal will change only when you push the button.

After a while, about 10 to 30 seconds depending on the location, the crossing signal will turn green (blue).

1. There is a crosswalk that has a sign in Japanese saying “押しボタン式”. This means “Pushbutton Type”

2. In the picture above, the crossing signal is red. Let’s see what the digital sign around the orange button shows. Before you push the button, the digital sign looks like this:

push button pedestrian crosswalk signal

3. In Japanese, it’s written as ”おしてください”. This means “PLEASE PUSH (the orange button to change the crossing signal)”.
All right. To cross the street, just push the orange button. Immediately after pushing, you can see the digital log above the button changes. In Japanese, it’s written as ”おまちください”. This means “PLEASE WAIT”. At this moment the pedestrian crossing signal is still red, so don’t cross yet.

4. Please wait for a bit. Soon, triggered by your push, you will see the crossing signal change. Here comes the green (blue) signal.

Upon reading this, everything seems so easy, right?


Now you have gotten to know the standard kind of pedestrian pushbutton.
Actually, in addition to the above, there are other types of pushbutton crosswalk signals.

Let’s take a brief look:

TYPE A: “-nighttime- Pushbutton Crosswalk Signal”

In Japanese, you will find the sign written as ”夜間押しボタン式”. This means “Nighttime Pushbutton Type”

This is for everyone who crosses this crosswalk at night.

During the daytime, this signal automatically changes with no need for you to push the button. However during the nighttime, when pedestrian traffic becomes low, it changes to a “Pushbutton Crosswalk Signal”. But no worries there, since you already know just what to do! Just push the orange button and wait until the signal changes.


TYPE B: “Sound-type Pushbutton Crosswalk Signal”

Below is a white and blue sign of a person with a walking stick. When you push this button, the green (blue) signal for pedestrian will last longer than usual and will come with sound. Recently this type of signal is also becoming more abundant.

This is a button for those who need a little longer to cross the street. For example, the disabled, seniors, pregnant women, injured people, those with children in tow, etc.

If you push this button, the green (blue) signal for pedestrian will last about 5 to 10 seconds longer than usual.

Also, in Japanese, the words on the sign say “音響用押しボタン”.
This means “pushbutton for sound”. So, you will hear an electric sound or Japanese narration while the green (blue) signal is on. This is basically for the hearing-impaired.

How does it feel? Now you are the master of pushbutton crosswalk signals!
Let’s all be safe crossing the street in Japan.


amarun/ Japan