Nezumitori (鼠取り) is a term used in Japan for a speed trap. It literally means rat catching or mouse catching. Usually one policeman will find a place to hide with a radar gun and a vanload of officers will wait a few blocks away. He’ll clock a group of cars and radio ahead. One of the main body will step into the road with a red flag and motion the victims to the awaiting arms of their public protectors.
The other day I turned a corner near my home, drove up and over a bridge, and noticed a man in a police uniform walking toward the roadway. I didn’t give a lot of thought to the speed limit, but rather to the safety issue caused by a man walking out of an alley toward the road. I let off the gas and coasted down. I saw the officer radioing ahead and as I was approaching the forward ranks one of them came into the roadway with his flag. Some of my readers weren’t born yet the last time I got a traffic ticket, so I was a little disappointed. I slowed way down to make it easier on them and I noticed that the guy with the flag wasn’t making a move to stop me.
As I drove by, he immediately stuck the flag out and stepped in front of the cars following me. I breathed a sigh of relief, gave thanks, and moved on. Was I going slower than the cars behind me? Was I given favor for noticing and slowing down? Could they not get a lock on my tiny car? Were they just concerned about tailgating? Were they afraid to talk to the foreigner? Did the policeman recognize me from all my biking around the area, and taking care of the kids? I have no idea but, as I said, I was thankful.