In the world of Japanese street signs, the tobidashi とびだし / 飛び出し signs are among the most ubiquitous. Google translates this as “jumping out” or “popping out”. I won’t say more, since this other blog does such a fine job. The boy in the signs is known as 飛び出し坊や, aka tobidashi-boy or tobidashi-kun (kun being the honorific used for younger boys). The are a number of webpages devoted to this character, such as this Pinterest site with 142 images. This character even has its own Wikipedia page.

I see tobidashi-kun as an example of Tokyo’s (generally) pedestrian-friendly culture in which cars and people share the road. I’m proud to say I’ve collected a number of these myself. Here are some simple “jumping out” signs:

Tobidashi-kun must get bored jumping in and out of traffic all day, so let’s give him a ball to play with. Maybe that will keep him safe:

That didn’t work. Perhaps he should try riding a bike:

Ouch. Still not safe. Even worse, our little friend is hitting people with his bike:

…or running into other bikes:

The only way to stay safe is to look both ways:

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