What It Means When You See a Traffic Light With Blue Instead of Green

source: ALAMY

Have you ever been out driving, minding your own business, when suddenly you spot a traffic light that looks a bit different? Instead of the familiar green light, you see a bright blue one. It’s not something you come across every day, and it might leave you wondering what’s going on. Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone in your confusion. Those blue traffic lights are a unique feature you’ll find in certain parts of the world, notably in Japan. So, let’s unravel the mystery behind these blue lights and understand what they mean.

First things first, seeing a blue traffic light doesn’t mean your eyes are playing tricks on you. They’re real, and they serve a specific purpose. In Japan, these blue lights are often used to indicate that a lane is specifically reserved for certain vehicles, such as buses or taxis. So, when you approach a blue traffic light, it’s like a secret message from the road, telling you who’s allowed to pass through.

Now, let’s talk about why Japan uses blue instead of the more common green for these traffic lights. It’s not just a random choice; there’s a cultural and historical reason behind it. In the Japanese language, the word for green, “midori,” can also refer to the color blue in some contexts. This linguistic nuance has led to the use of blue traffic lights, especially when they want to convey a sense of caution or distinguish between different types of lanes.


In many other countries, green is the universal color for “go” when it comes to traffic lights. It’s a simple and easily recognizable signal that everyone understands. But in Japan, they’ve opted for blue to stand out and make a clear distinction. The blue light serves as a visual cue that you’re entering a special lane with its own set of rules.

So, what should you do when you encounter one of these blue traffic lights in Japan? Well, it depends on the situation. If you’re driving and you see a blue light, check for signs or markings on the road. These will provide information about which vehicles are allowed to use that lane. If you’re not in one of those designated vehicles, it’s best to wait for the regular green light to continue on your way.

It’s worth mentioning that while blue traffic lights are predominantly used in Japan, you may also come across them in some other countries, particularly in Asia. So, if you’re an adventurous traveler, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and customs before hitting the road.

So, the next time you spot a blue traffic light while exploring the streets of Japan, you can feel like a local expert, knowing that it’s just a unique way of keeping the traffic flowing smoothly and safely. And who knows, you might even start to appreciate the subtle nuances of the Japanese language that led to this colorful traffic solution.