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Driving in Japan

Japan With Kids - Forums: Moving to and Leaving Japan: Moving To Japan: Driving in Japan

By Maureen on Sunday, April 6, 2003 - 10:57 am:

We are thinking about going to Tokyo as expats for 2 years. We were not going to rent/buy a car there. Is that a good idea? I am assuming we will close to the trains but I was wondering, at night are there taxis' available easily? Do people ride the trains at night? IF so are they safe?

By Pam on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 5:22 pm:

It depends on how used you are to having a car and where the kids' schools/extracurricular activities will be. We have 2 kids and we don't have a car. I use taxis a lot (mainly because I'm lazy) and we take trains for sightseeing at the weekends. The subway is safe here but access can be a workout if you have kids who are still in buggies as some stations do not have escalators/elevators. We're having a 3rd child soon and I may change my mind about cars ... which seem to be widely available, new or used.

By Kurz on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 2:19 pm:

International Driver's Permits/License Exemptions (first year in Japan):

At present, German, Swiss or French issued license holders do not need an International Driver's License to drive in Japan provided they fulfill one important requirement. German-, Swiss-, or French-issued license holders are permitted to drive in Japan with a one-year exemption beginning from their original Date of Entry into Japan. As part of an exemption agreement, German-, Swiss-, or French-issued license holders must carry a Japanese translation of their license obtained from either the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) or their country's embassy/consulate. After one year, the license exemption will expire and drivers must switchover to a Japanese license or stop driving.
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This was copied from Tsukuba City on-line resources in English. All drivers staying here long term need to get Japanese licenses after one year. Frankly this is not that big of an advantage since it is pretty easy to get the international permit for the first year here. It is useful to have the year to practice, since signage and patterns are a bit different. Especially some very different traffic light patterns!

By the way, it's all about reciprocity. Japanese going to these three countries do not have to get a local license for a year. So the Japanese do the same for those nationals.

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