What it's like to drive in Japan

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/31/what-its-like-to-drive-in-ja.html


Driving in Japan is expensive from what i understand, friend of mine that was stationed out there went to go pick up his dog from quarantine and had to go through a toll twice and it cost him $100 going out and $100 again coming back. Also considering how good their public transportation is i would prefer to use those over a car, unless there’s a legitimate reason to rent a car like hitting up more rural areas that might not have the same level of public transportation or any available. However would love to hear from someone that’s more familiar with Japan, i know we have a few here in the forums.

I’m really hoping i can go back and do a more hardcore Japanese adventure, starting from the most southern point and travel my way up through the countryside up to the most northern point. Might take me a couple of years to save up but i really want to get there. Also need to train to get fitter because i’ve heard that hiking Mt Fuji is no joke but its something i want to do.


1:24 “a car I could bore-oh”


1:34 “good old Canadian maple syrup”


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Care hire is relatively expensive compared to the UK. Petrol is a bit cheaper, but the tolls on motorways make it a pretty expensive way to get around. It’s fun for occasional trips, though.

The service stations are interesting. Traffic can be bad sometimes, but the drivers are mostly very well behaved.

I haven’t driven in the city. Only motorway trips and suburban.


I drove there for a couple of years and much prefer driving in Japan to the US. In general, speed limits are lower, people are more respectful of traffic laws, and cars are in better condition.

It’s more expensive than the states, yes, but if you have a few people going together on a trip, it might be cheaper than multiple train tickets.

It wasn’t bad to get used to driving on the left. The easiest time to mess up is when you turn and automatically head for the right hand lane. The accident I got in was for not seeing a stop sign and was my own damn fault.


My son and I have decided there must be only one truck in Japan, because anime characters just stroll down the middle of the street without a glance left or right. That one truck is there so the protagonist can get run over, and then return as a zombie, or perhaps a ghost.

Cf: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka; Zombieland Saga; Zombie-Loan; Yu-Yu-Hakusho.

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Biggest problem I had on several trips there for a month at a time was the stop signs look like american yield signs. Red triangles. I kept the rules of the road & translation crib notes handy & check them every once in a while. And kept an eye on where the parked cars were, that kep me on the proper side of the road & saved my ass more than once after getting back to the states.

I mis-read “tolls” as “trolls”.

I was really looking forward to finding out about Japanese road-trolls. :slight_smile:


Tip for international travelers - don’t rely on that in the UK…


Japan is the absolute best place to drive. I rented a motorcycle for a few weeks there and a car for another couple weeks. The roads are meticulously maintained and marked. The drivers are the most polite and skilled in the world. Pedestrians are predictable. The country is 90% mountains, so the roads are always fun to drive. They even have special toll roads built just for spirited driving through beautiful scenery. The Japanese car and motorcycle culture is intense.


I leave the driving to my girlfriend when we go to left-side countries like Japan or England. I’ve been driving on the right side for too many decades to switch without panicking.

That said, it seemed like driving in Okinawa was fairly easy. We rented cars on a few islands and never had any traffic problems.

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The one thing I found helpful for driving in the UK was to remember to keep the center line in the road closest to the drivers side. Transitioning from US to UK and back the only time I got into trouble was when I got back to the US and made a right turn like I would in the UK. Didn’t realize it until I saw the headlights of an oncoming car.

My father in law is in his early 80’s. He lives in a suburban part of Nara Prefecture. An area with a lot of crazy narrow roads flanked by rice patties in some areas. Whenever he drives me and my wife, he insists I sit in the front with him.

Dear Sweet Baby Cthulhu, the man is a terror on the roads. I have never felt so scared for pedestrians and other drivers in my life.

I would never want to rent a car or drive around there. The car would end up in a ditch if I tried over there.


Another UK/US gotcha: the center line is always white in the UK, even when traffic is two-way. White center lines in the US indicate one-way traffic.

No and No. Not in Tokyo and not out in Aichi either. I drive in both prefectures. The roads are often a patchwork of repairs to where if you are in a vehicle without good shock absorbers it is very noticeable.

Most streets arent named and very often the road directions dont actually tell you where to turn and very often there is no advance indication that the lane you are in becomes a turn only lane.

Yakking or texting on their phones while driving, kids jumping around like monkeys in kei-minivans. People are more than happy to cut you off.

You can predict that they will just walk into the road not at a crosswalk without looking. You can predict that they wear dark clothes and walk in the street where there’s no streetlights.

The fact that there aren’t more vehicular deaths here is absolute proof of the existence of the Divine.

oh and @frauenfelder didnt take me long to get accustomed to narrow roads and if you do rent a car here, just make sure to get a navigation system. Lots of the rental ones even have English screen options. A bit of time with your favorite search engine will even get you all the roadsign info you need.

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There is an entire genre called “isekai” that is about truck-kun’s various victims

You don’t have to die to go isekai. The victims heroes of SAO are mostly completely alive and only look like coma patients. Even if you, like most men of culture, hate SAO, there’s .hack.

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