Have you pulled up to a traffic light that turns blue? Millions of people have. Would you know what to do? When the light turns blue, you go. The only place that has blue traffic lights is in Japan and how they went with blue is an interesting story. Long ago the Japanese only had words for the four basic colors, red, blue, black and white. If you wanted to describe something green, you would use the word for blue or “ao”. Up until 1973, all lights were green but during the period, linguists began arguing with the government on the wording used to describe the lights because they were using the word for blue to describe lights that were green.
Japanese linguists fought against their own government on the issue of using the the word “ao” to describe a color that was clearly “midori.”
Japan ultimately compromised on the issue, and made its traffic lights a mix of blue and green. Blue enough to satisfy the linguists; green enough to satisfy international conventions.
“In 1973, the government mandated through a cabinet order that traffic lights use the bluest shade of green possible — still technically green, but noticeably blue enough to justifiably continue using the ao nomenclature,” Atlas Obscura reported.
It was simply an issue of either adhering to old Japanese language or altering it to be more aligned with new laws and terminology.
If a Western driver is ever in Japan and encounters a blueish-green light, it simply means “go.”
Now, maybe it’s just that I’m slow, but instead of changing every stoplight in Tokyo, wouldn’t have been better just to create a new word meaning green? I know, I know, but it’s just crazy enough that it just might work.
In Mexico, some lights go green and then blink to warn you the light is about to turn yellow.