View Full Version : Living in Japan: cars and motorbikes
12-09-2005, 12:32 AM
I might have a chance to relocate to Japan (Tokyo) during the next few months, and I was wondering how it works to have a car and/or a motorbike.
What kind of figures would I look at to get it insured? And what is the average cost of a parking space?
I have some more questions too, but let's start with this :-)
Thanks in advance!
12-09-2005, 07:10 AM
err, well first things first. Where are you from? If you're European or Australian life will be easier when it comes to getting a Japanese driving license since you just need a Translation of your native one plus spay a small fee. Other countries have to take a test , hehehe.
For insurance and Road tax (shaken) that all depends up on what car you have. There are 3 main types. Cheapest are what the Japanese call K-car. These originally were tinny cars but these days they a quite a decent size. I have a K-car. They still have small engines but are packed full of turbos and so on to power up the engine. Mine can get to 0mph to 60mph in just under 9 seconds which is very good for a car of it's size.
parking depends upon where you live. I pay 5'000 yen per month for two spaces but in Tokyo expect to pay x4 more just for 1 space.
12-09-2005, 07:29 AM
I had a lovely little scooter, it was pretty poor and complained about hills but it was bloody cheap. I did all my serious distance on trains, but for just popping about scooters did it for me, as you could pretty much dump it anywhere and not worry about finding a space. Though I would never venture into big towns on it, as that would be akin to suicide. Also it did look quite cool and once you have got the hang of "half" wearing a helmet it is all good.
12-09-2005, 09:51 AM
Thanks for the tips guys, I am Italian, and I also have a Canadian driving license, so I hope that at least that one should be fine.
Can you guys give me an idea of what kind of rates look like for car/bike insurance?
I might be thinking about importing my car into Japan actually, it is left hand drive but I have had it while I lived in the UK and it was all right...
12-09-2005, 10:47 AM
My car is 40'000 yen per year to insure but from next time it will be cheaper because I'm now 30. I'd say that your car will be a lot more though since it's an import.
12-09-2005, 12:46 PM
Ahhahaha, seriously??? 40.000 per year? Here in Toronto if I want to insure a reasonable car it costs me something like 70.000/80.000 yen PER MONTH!!
12-09-2005, 01:10 PM
Think you have your conversion rates a bit wrong there mate - 40000 yen is about 350-400USD. I can't quite believe that you pay 700USD per month...mine is £670 per year, and I'm a young driver
12-09-2005, 02:53 PM
You know the_steadster, you wouldn't believe how great it would if I were wrong, unfortunately I am not mistaken at all.
I have been quoted $8500 CAD for one year insurance for a 31 years old driver living downtown Toronto and being a newly licensed driver.
I have been driving cars for more than 10 years, but I had to take the Canadian license, so for the insurance I only have had the license for one year now.
It is just insane.
12-09-2005, 03:07 PM
Bloody hell....sorry for getting that wrong then, that is one hell of a lot of money. And I thought £1400 last year was bad!
12-09-2005, 03:09 PM
Hey the steadster - I payed well over what you are paying for my insurance when I was 17/18! You got a great deal... Mine hasn't dropped as low as yours yet either and I have zero claims! Damn!
Anyway I would really not like to drive in Japan, whenever I was in a car with friends it was always so scary and frustrating.
12-09-2005, 03:25 PM
And why is that?
12-09-2005, 03:40 PM
Well I did get quotes for £3k last year...i just decided not to take them until I found something cheaper. And this years was about 1/2 as much as anyone elses quote.
What car are you driving, out of interest?
Mines a V reg, Hyundai, so its not really worth too much
12-09-2005, 04:15 PM
the steadster - I got a nice Toyota Yaris, so nothing too expensive. I hunted around for the best price, and it was going no lower. You see when I move to Japan for a year, the year after next, I'm selling it so I'm not seeing the point at the moment. Then I come back for a year then it is off to japan again. I'm actually mentally keeping the milage down so I can get a decent price for it! But I do love to drive.
As for why Japan is an odd place to drive. Firstly in residential areas we are looking at a load of blind 90 degree turns, on one drive a friend had to pull 4 emergency stops. Secondly tiny roads in residential areas. As for big cities - nightmare traffic, other shit drivers. Also there is no where to really get speed up around where I lived. It is no big deal, but I wouldn't want to drive unless I had to, I hate urban driving anyway. Good friend had a harley and that was great fun, we went out to his house on the beach south of osaka and did some drag racing on some actual straight roads.
I just had loads of near death experiences in cars in Japan, mostly because of shit drivers, driving me. One guy was literally so pissed he couldn't stand and offered to drive me home. We slept in a round 1 over that! It was cool we detoxed in a 24 sauna and batting cage. (only in japan, eh!)
12-09-2005, 10:43 PM
It's crazy how the quality of driving changes from area to area in Japan. In Osaka I know they drive like shit but here in Shimonoseki people drive very well. Head on over the water to Kyushu though and find yourself in "What's an indicator or Winker for you Americans :)" land. Yep, they drive like shit in Kita Kyushu as well. The never f*cking indicate !!! It's been proven that the worst drivers in Japan are from Osaka with Kita Kyushu following close behind. Hey, I have a video I took with my phone of me driving in my car. It will give you an idea of how small the roads can be :) They are in AIFF format for windows media player if anyone would like to see them.
12-09-2005, 11:42 PM
This is off topic, but you guys just made me really appreciate my insurance company.
12-10-2005, 09:26 PM
You're going to live in Tokyo? Here's some questions.
-Do you have kids?
-Do you like big headaches.
If you answered yes to both of these questions, get a car. If not, save your fucking money, hair, and brain cells. Cars are pretty much used for one thing in Tokyo when you have a job -- driving on the weekend. Why the fuck anyone would buy a car to drive through gridlock 2 days (only) a week is beyond me. Then again, I bought a $30k car when I got in Hawaii some 15 months ago and just hit mile 3000. O_o
If you have a wife and kids... she might need one. They're a big hassle though. Parking will run you through the roof unless you live way out of the city... then the gas and the hours it takes to get anywhere will slowly suck the life out of you.
nd why is that?
This is pretty tame, but the best I could find.
12-10-2005, 11:32 PM
I don't have kids, and I don't particularly fancy big headaches.
The point is though that I have had cars for the past 6 years, and they only served me as weekend runners, as I always lived close enough to work to be able to walk there or to use public transport; in fact I only had sport cars for the last few years.
I do see your point indeed of course, I'll consider very carefully the option of not having a car, perhaps a motorbike would be better...
12-10-2005, 11:32 PM
Yeah, Gaijin Punch is right there about Tokyo. The only major city I can think of where driving would be safe is Hiroshima since they have pretty big roads with 4 lanes unlike the rest of Japan. Do yourself a favor and move to a normal sized city like myself where traffic isn't such a problem and parking won't cost half of your rent.
12-11-2005, 02:07 AM
Ehhh, choice of the city is really not an option for me now.
If I do get a chance to get to Japan in the near future, it will be in Tokyo.
Well if that happens I might have to consider life without a car...
12-11-2005, 02:13 AM
Well, Tokyo is a big bastard. Lots of people live outside of Tokyo, but work there. Say hello to an hour plus commute with some old man's elbow's in your ball bag. I always found it worth while to pay an extra 25,000 to 40,000 yen a month and live pretty close. I didn't have kids, and saved a good 5 hours a week at least in commutes, and if I hadn't fucked my back up I would've saved a lot of money by cycling to work as opposed to the train. (Twice I threw it out, which meant I took cabs to work at about 2,000 yen a pop. No choice though).
Is your company going to put you up, or do you have to pay your own rent? Parking spots in anywhere remotely close to Tokyo will cost you at least 30,000 yen a month I would imagine. If you tell me (here or PM) your budget, social needs, and where your office will be, I can probably point you to a few nice neighborhoods.
Yakumo also mentioned earlier about getting the proper license. Are you English? If so, it's easy. If not, you have to take two (yes two) trips to get your US (or most other place's) license converted. Always prevented me from getting one.
12-11-2005, 07:08 AM
As far as I know almost all Europeans can get a Japanese license fairly easy. Australians have it very easy too but other part of the world don't have it so lucky like GaijinPunch said.
12-11-2005, 09:04 AM
Long as you're not chinese you should be fine :thumbsup:
12-11-2005, 02:08 PM
Kei Cars are awesome.
Get a Suzuki Cappuccino:
Or a Mazda Autozam AZ-1:
Or a Suzuki Alto Works (Turbo & AWD!!):
Anyway, so yeah, Kei cars are t3h r0x0rz, especially the Cappuccinos.
Although personally, I'd still rather have one of these: (KPGC10)
Or these: (HLS30)
12-11-2005, 03:24 PM
I am italian, I checked with the embassy, and it is no problem to get my license converted.
By the way I still only have a remote chance, so I am just checking for now.
The job would be in Shinjuku by the way.
12-11-2005, 07:38 PM
The job would be in Shinjuku by the way.
Well, the good thing about working in Shinjuku is that you've got about 10 lines to chose from to live on, which allow you to commute to work without having to switch trains (which can be time and energy consuming). Many of them have affordable places to live as well.
12-11-2005, 11:34 PM
Think you have your conversion rates a bit wrong there mate - 40000 yen is about 350-400USD.
I pay $650 for 6months ever since I got a new car, and thats the cheapest I can get. The policy doesn't include uninsured motorist coverage because that will double my premium. I'm not even with a big name insurance company like Geico or State Farm or AllState. If I went with them I would be paying $1090 for 6months for coverage w/out uninsured motorist coverage.
oh well, that $650 premium will soon go up because Friday night I got into a fender bender. I hit the back of a minivan doing 5mph or 10. No injuries and no damage to my car, except that it shakes for 10 seconds when I turn it on after it has been off for a couple of hours, but there is a small crack on the top of my front bumper. The driver I hit was in a dodge caravan. Her back bumper got bent in, and that's it. No further damage was done to her car. I gotta file the claim and call the court to sign up for traffic school so that points won't be taken off of my license, which won't bring up my premium that much, I just hope it doesn't go up by no more than 30%. I can't afford any higher.
12-12-2005, 08:54 AM
Wow, looks like the UK isn't bad in terms of insurance prices then! At least something is cheap here!
01-17-2006, 04:31 AM
I'm banned of using motorbikes, anyways, what about segways? some dude told me those are illegal in japan:oh:
About insurance, are you guys paying for the normal insurance or the full coverage one?
That Suzuki Alto Works look pretty cool, but I'm more of a tech nerd (like most of the people that has the new prius) so what japanese-only car would be best for me? preferably with as many buttons and screens as possible.:lol:
01-17-2006, 07:55 AM
There's a good in-depth guide here - http://www.jetsetjapan.com/infozone-trans-lice.shtml - about driving in Japan. It was written for JET participants, but I can't see why it wouldn't work for anyone else. As for owning a car in Tokyo - unless you're a car fan, just take the train/tube/bus
01-17-2006, 05:26 PM
unless you're a car fan, just take the train/tube/bus
I see, well is the same in every big city I had traveled to.
BTW, I may need some good running shoes, are they cheaper in japan since most of them are made in vietnam and china?
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