Tips to drive in Japan

Jul 6, 2016

Driving a car in Japan in is different from most of other countries. Japanese car has a steering wheel on the right side and keep left on the street. When I travel abroad I rent a Ford car and had so much difficulty to drive. It was very confusing. In this article I’ll introduce you many other differences you need to be careful when driving car in Japan.


1. Traffic signs

My German friend told me that he was surprised to the “STOP” sign in Japan. In many countries, “STOP” signs have octagonal shapes and the word “STOP” is written. But Japanese one has a pointed-side-down-triangle shape and the word “止まれ” is written, which means “STOP” in Japanese. Please take a look at the picture below. The sign No.1 is a “STOP” sign in Japan. No.2 means “Drive slow” and No.3 means “Don’t enter”. The bad news about traffic sign in Japan is, every word is written in Japanese language. But many signs are easily recognizable. For example, No.4 means “No passing” and No.5 means “A right curve”.


[Reference: Hobby Search (]


2. Highway

What does highway look like in your country? It might be straight and wide and you can drive in high speed. Highways in Japan are like that in most places but very different in big cities. Tokyo highway is called “Shuto-kohsoku (or Shutokoh)“. Tokyo doesn’t have enough space to have a wide and straight road, so they made the highway above the normal roads. Plus, it’s curved right and left like snakes and very narrow. Always crowded with various types of cars. As a result, you can’t drive in high speed even it says “Kohsoku“, which means “high speed”. Please check the highway information before you use Shutokoh.


[Reference: 東京写真館(]


3. Gas station

Gas stations in Japan are not that different from other countries. They usually have 3 types of oil; Regular (=unleaded), diesel and high-octane. When you drive into gas station, a staff will run to you and help you to park at a correct place. Just say to them “<Oil type> Mantan.” Mantan means fill up a tank. If you see Japanese word”セルフ“, self-service is available. When you use self-service, fill oil first then pay. You don’t need to deposit your credit card before filling. Please see the picture below. Green one is diesel, yellow is high-octane and the red is regular. Every gas station has the same color.


[Reference: ENEOS (]


It’s fun to have a new driving experience. Japanese cars are confortable and highly safe. I hope you have a fun time with a car.