People generally seem to ride their bikes on the sidewalks (and not wear helmets) despite the fact that under Japanese law bikes are considered vehicles. Along some major streets the sidewalk is divided into space for pedestrians and space for bicycles, and there are bicycle lanes in some crosswalks (called jitensha odantai).
I was excited when I first saw this, but have quickly learned that no one sticks to it, which is frustrating both as a pedestrian and as a cyclist. According to the Japan Times, "The government has now designated 98 communities around the nation as test areas, and experiments are under way to showcase and evaluate various means of creating safe space for cyclists so they don't have to ride on sidewalks." I hope they are successful in getting bikes back into the streets!
Bicycling laws were updated in June of this year, and the same Japan Times article shared some of the changes - "children under the age of 13 and anyone 70 or older may ride on any sidewalk, anywhere. Riders of all ages may continue to use sidewalks where signs permit but, in another change, any rider may move onto the sidewalk if road conditions feel unsafe (due to construction, for example). When on sidewalks, cyclists are expected to slow down and yield to foot traffic, which is interpreted by the police to mean that there should be no bell-ringing at pedestrians."
(and a very happy birthday Al!)