I was born and raised in Sapporo, so the image of vertical traffic signals seemed only natural to me, but this is not the case for the rest of Japan. A friend from Kanto noticed this aspect of life in Hokkaido and said that horizontal lights are more normal in that area. When you think about it there really are a lot of vertical-hanging lights in Hokkaido.
There’s good reason for this however. Snow can pile up more easily on horizontal lights making them more difficult to see in addition to creating a risk of falling snow. In recent years, with the introduction of many LEDs, which tend to have weaker lights, the number of horizontal lights have increased but the vertical ones are still most common – even in my neighborhood!
( Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer – Fukko )