30 useful tips for travel in Japan
- Rules of the Road and more on Driving in Japan
- Apply for an international license in your home country, and get yourself a rental car to explore the intricate and diverse Japanese landscape at your own pace.
- While on the road
- First of all, know that you will be sitting on the right side of the car, and driving in the left lane. Driving on the left is quite easy even if you are not used to it. Simply remember that the center divide of the road is on the driver's side, exactly the same as in countries that drive on the right. You will find yourself oriented with ease. Additionally, all speed and distance is represented in kilometers. It could help to familiarize yourself with gauging kilometers before you drive.
- Expressways and Tolls
- There are many toll roads in Japan. There are two types of toll lanes at the same toll gate. "ETC" lanes, which is an automatic payment system linked to the driver's credit card, allows people to drive through the gate without stopping. The sign above the ETC lane is purple, and the lane itself will usually be a solid color marked with arrows. Do not enter the ETC lane without an ETC card. The ETC lanes have a bar that raises after an ETC card has been confirmed. The bar will not raise if there is no ETC card. Please be careful.
-"Normal (一般）", is the lane in which you must stop and pay a person manually. The sign above the lane is green and the lane itself has no special color. International tourists driving in Japan without an ETC card should be prepared to enter this lane, and pay manually when using expressways.
- There is generally not much parking on roadsides in Japan. There will be a designated parking area at shops and restaurants. You will occasionally see people stopped on the roadside, but this is only temporary, and in many cases they are technically breaking the rules. There are many automated parking areas in cities, as well as parking garages at major shopping outlets. The cost is calculated afterwards according to how long you were parked, and there is generally a price cap for a 24-hour period. The universal sign for parking in Japan is a large "P" sign, so look for that when you need to park.
If you are entering a large shopping center with a paid parking area, stop at the entrance to get your voucher, and keep it with you. Don't forget to hand the cashier your parking voucher when making a purchase to obtain a free parking voucher.