Riding a Bus

The destination of the bus is indicted on top of the bus's windshield.
Bus routes and bus stops vary depending on the bus company, so it is important to check this before getting on a bus.

Before getting on a bus, try to have enough change for the fare ready, if you do not have electronic or prepaid pass.

Points to remember when riding a bus

There are single-fare routes and routes on which fares vary depending on the distance. Fares must be paid either when getting on the bus or when getting off. Elementary school children are half-fare, but junior high school children must pay an adult fare.

A child under 6 years old accompanied by an adult may ride for free. (The number of children that may ride for free varies depending on the company.)
Besides regular bus tickets, there are commuting passes, multiple-tickets, prepaid cards, and discount service for the aged.


Kinds of railways

There are JR railway lines managed by JR (Co. Ltd.) and some other private railway lines, monorails and subways owned and operated by companies like Toiei, Tokyo Metro, Tokyu, Keio, Odakyu, Seibu, etc.. Points to note when use a railway.

Tickets for regular and short/middle distances can be bought at vending machines. For some stations, tickets for long distances, discount tickets and limited express trains, etc. can only be bought at ticket counters (windows).

Children less than 12 years old get 50% off on their train fare. However, even if the child is 12 years old or younger but is a junior high school student, he/she must pay the adult fare. A child under 6-years old accompanied by an adult may ride for free. (The number of children that may ride for free varies depending on the company.) Besides regular tickets, there are multiple-tickets, commuting passes, prepaid cards, etc.


When you want to use a taxi there are usually taxi stands in front of major railway stations. You stop a taxi that is driving along a road by raising your hand.

You can also call a taxi by telephone. However, you will have to pay an additional charge. Taxi doors open automatically, so when you are getting into and out of the taxi, let the taxi driver open the doors for you.

Taxi fares

The taxi fare is indicated on the meter in the cab. This is the fare you must pay.
In Japan, giving tips to taxi drivers, is not widely practiced.
There are additional charges for early-morning and late-night rides and highway toll charges must be paid separately.
If you left (forgot) something in a taxi, you should enquire with the taxi company.

To drive an automobile

A driver’s license is required to drive an automobile. You should go to a driving school and learn to drive then obtain a driver’s license.

If you have a driver’s license that you obtained in your country (abroad), it can be exchanged for a Japanese license if an application is made.

International Driver’s License

Only international driver's licenses issued in accordance with the Geneva Conventions are valid in Japan.

An international driver's license is valid for one year from the day of entry to Japan. Note: Persons, who are registered residents of Japan or are registered aliens in Japan and have obtained an international driver's license after leaving Japan and then reenter the country, must have been out of the country for a period of more than 3 months to have the license accepted.

Foreign Driver's License

A person holding a German, French or Swiss driver's license with a Japanese translation of the license can drive for 1 year in Japan.

After one year has passed, persons who are registered residents of Japan or are registered as aliens in Japan and have left Japan and reentered the country must have been out of the country for a period of more than 3 months in order to have the license honored.

* Only translations by the consular offices of the country where the license was issued or by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) are accepted. Exchanging your license for a Japanese license.

It is possible to apply to exchange your (foreign) license for a Japanese license. Application procedures should be made at the Driver’s License Center / Driver’s License Examination Center of the prefecture you live in. l For information on exchanging foreign licenses.

JAF Homepage
English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, Korean (1)Required items
For details on what documents are required to be presented, enquire at the Driver’s License Center / Driver’s License Examination Center.

Driver’s License Application Form (available at the Examination Center)

1 Photograph (3cm high X 2.4cm wide) can be taken at the application office for a fee.
Certificate of Alien Registration
Foreign Driver’s License (If expiration date is not stated, proof of expiration date is required)
Passport (with record of entry and departure from relevant countries)
A Japanese translation of the foreign driver’s license
Only translations made by the administrative agency that issued the license, by foreign embassy and consular offices in Japan, or by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) are accepted.
Fees vary depending on the type of license. (2) The process involved in a regular application
Make application for exchange
Suitability test
Check of one’s knowledge of the rules of the road
Driving skills test (Practical driving test on a course at the Driver’s License Examination Center)

Obtain a Japanese license

People who hold a license from a country which is a member of the international treaty on exemption from driving knowledge and skills tests need take only the Suitability Test.
However, a practical driving test is required for large two-wheel vehicles.
The validity period of a driver’s license
A newly obtained Japanese driver’s license is valid until your third birthday after obtaining the license. After that, renewal is every 3 years or 5 years. If the validity period expires, the license becomes invalid.
Remember to renew your license before it expires.

If you change your address

If you change your address, it is necessary to apply to change the address on your driver’s license.

Make an application by bringing your driver’s license and proof of your new address (Certificate of Alien Registration (card), etc.) to the police station or Driver’s License Examination Center of your new address.

The suspension and cancellation of a driver’s license

A points system is implemented in Japan to urge driver’s who have broken the law or caused an accident to improve their driving safety thereafter. The points system is a system whereby points are imposed for a traffic accident, neglecting traffic signals, speeding, illegal parking, etc.

When the total number of points reaches a certain number, the individual’s driver’s license may be suspended or cancelled as punishment.
In particular, drunk driving is severely punishable.

A license may be cancelled for a single offense

If there are casualties as a result of an accident you have caused, you may be sent to a prison for traffic law offenders.

Translation of foreign driver’s licenses

When you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license, a Japanese translation of the foreign license is required. Only translations by JAF, foreign embassies in Japan and foreign government department (the administrative agency that issued the license) are accepted. * For details, see the JAF Homepage http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index.htm.

Application procedures for a Japanese translation

Where to apply: JAF Regional Offices counters across the country How to apply: Apply directly at the JAF counter, or mail your application to a JAF counter by registered mail for cash.
Required documents: A photocopy of the foreign driver’s license (original licenses cannot be accepted).
Application fees: \3,000 per license.

The Japanese translation will not be reissued in principle. The translation may be reissued only when it is deemed necessary under unavoidable circumstances. Reissues are carried out as a new application, therefore a \3,000 fee is charged. Please note that fees will not be refunded even if the application for Foreign License Exchange has been rejected. The period of validity of the Japanese translated version is the same as that of the original license.
Revised edition of the foreign languages version of “Rules of the Road”

To encourage safe driving and prevent traffic accidents among foreign residents in Japan, JAF provides a foreign language version of its “Rules of the Road” which explains in easy terms Japanese Road Traffic Law.

The manual is available in 6 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Chinese and Korean for \1,000 per copy (consumption tax incl. / delivery charges separate) Contact The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF)
There are 67 JAF branch offices throughout the country.

The registration and inspection of vehicles and large motorcycles

With regard to vehicles and large motorcycles the following must be reported to the District Land Transport Bureau for your district: purchase, sale, disposal, change in owner’s name, etc.

Vehicle and large motorcycle owners are legally obliged to have periodical vehicle inspections (shaken).

Proof of Parking Space Certificate

To register a private automobile, its owner must have a document to prove they have a place to park their automobile. You should apply for a Proof of Parking Space Certificate at the police station with jurisdiction over the area where the parking space is. (Regarding light-vehicles, depending on the city, ward, town and village, a Proof of Parking Space Certificate may not be required.)

Items required for an application.

An application form for a Badge
A map showing the location of the parking space
A map showing the layout of the parking space
A document showing you have the legal right to use the parking space

Automobile insurance

Automobile insurance includes Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance which you are required to have by law, and optional insurance.

Registering middle-class motorbikes, gentsuki-bikes and bicycles

Middle-class bikes (126 cc ? 250 cc displacement), gentsuki-bikes class 1 (under 50 cc displacement), gentsuki-bikes class 2 (51 cc ? 125 cc displacement) and bicycles should be registered in your city, ward, town or village.

Gentsuki-bikes 1-class (under 50 cc displacement), bicyclesIn principle gentsuki-bikes class 1 and bicycles should be ridden on the left side of the road. Before riding your vehicle, check that the brakes are working properly. Riding without your lights on at night and riding with 2 people on such bikes is against the law. Don’t do it.

Theft-prevention Registration (Bohan Toroku)

Theft-prevention Registration of bicycles is compulsory.When you purchase a bicycle, check with the store and register the bicycle.

No bicycle / bike parking zones

Bicycles and bikes left in a “no bicycle / bike parking zones” (marked with signs) in front of railway stations, etc. will be removed and held in storage.

If your bike or bicycle has been removed, you should go to the storage center within 1 month to claim your bike or bicycle. A removal fee (storage fee) is charged.

Traffic accidents / Automobile insurance

In the event of a traffic accident

Move the vehicle to a safe place and switch off the engine.
If there is an injured person, call for an ambulance (Tel: 119)
Contact the police and describe the accident (Tel: 110)
Confirm the other persons name, address, telephone number and vehicle registration number.
If there is a witness, ask for their name and where they can be contacted.
Notify your insurance company.
Compulsory automobile liability insurance
It is required by law to have automobile liability insurance.

Optional insurance

As liability costs have risen, optional automobile insurance helps compensate for the liability costs which go over the compensatory limits of the compulsory liability insurance. Traffic accident mutual aid association
In some districts there is a mutual accident aid association system provided for citizens. Premium payment is \600 per person with a 1-year insurance term.
Anyone can join at anytime.

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