Owning A Car In Japan: Truths And Facts

The apparent difficulties of owning a car in Japan are the hotbed for many misconceptions circulating online. It’s true that the country lacks land space and the taxes can be punished sometimes. 

But, buying a car in Japan is nothing as scary as numerous online stories tell you. Let’s have a look at the truth and facts to find out the costs of buying and owning cars in Japan.

Owning A Car In Japan: Truths And Facts

We’ve done some digging regarding Japan car ownership. Let’s set the facts from the beliefs apart.

Buying A Car In Japan

You have to have a parking space to purchase a car in Japan. The dealer will ask for proof of a parking lot, which you either own or rent, and it has to be within a 2km radius from where you live.

how much are cars in japan
Managing a parking space can be costly. (Photo: pixy.org)


Moreover, if you are buying a used car, it should be ‘shaken’. What is it?

It is a roadworthy car inspection that your dealer will do for a fee. Some gas stations also offer the service. 

The Transport Bureau Office inspects White Plate cars while the Light Motor Vehicle Inspection Organization is in charge of Yellow Plates. You have to renew the shake within one month of its expiry date.

Apart from paying the price of the purchased car, you have to pay for the name change and clear the fees of automobile tonnage tax and automobile acquisition tax.

How Much Is A Car In Japan?

Owning a car in Japan is an expensive business. The costs will be a bit less if it is a Kei car (a category for the smallest highway-legal passenger cars) and you live in the countryside.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs. The figures are not absolute but rough estimates:

White Plate Yellow Plate
Shaken (valid for two years) ¥120,000 or more ¥70,000 to ¥100,000
Automobile Tax/Year ¥30,000 to ¥50,000 ¥5,000 to ¥20,000
10% Fees on Automobile Tax/Year (for cars older than 13 years) 10% of the automobile taxes
Liability Insurance/Year ¥30,000 ¥20,000
Optional Insurance/Year ¥40,000 to ¥70,000
Permanent Parking Lot/Month ¥0 to ¥20,000 (countryside to a big city)
Short-Term Parking ¥100 to ¥500/hour or ¥500 or ¥5,000/day
Fuel Cost Approximately ¥110/L
Maintenance ¥0 to ¥50,000

How Old Can A Car Be In Japan?

There is a myth that you have to change your old car after certain years or have to pay a high amount of taxes. Well, it is just a myth.

how to buy a car in japan
No need to spend extra to keep an old car. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

>> Looking for a car from Japan with good conditions, click here <<     

Other Things To Notice When Owning A Car In Japan

Rules Differences

Obtaining a Japanese driver’s license is dependent on your country of origin and driving history. Driving in Japan is relatively similar to driving in most other nations in terms of traffic rules, with the exception of one or two minor variances.

The most obvious difference is adapting to driving on the left if you come from a nation that drives on the right. 

Japan shares this with a few other nations, like the United Kingdom, Australia, and India, but if you’re coming from the United States or Europe, having the driver’s side on the other side of the car is a major adjustment.

Stopping at railway crossings is one rule to be aware of that may differ from your own nation. Even though the gate at a railway crossing is open for you to cross, you must come to a complete stop and inspect both directions before proceeding.

Traffic lights can also differ somewhat. Turning right on a red light into the street is legal in several locations of the United States. You are not permitted to turn in Japan and must remain stopped as long as the signal is red.

Another circumstance you can encounter on a busy roadway is a red light with a green arrow pointing straight ahead rather than to the left or right. This indicates that you may go straight but cannot turn left or right.

Legally, you must drive at the speed limit and can be punished if you exceed it, yet many individuals appear to disregard this. 

Regardless of what other drivers do, we recommend staying within the speed limit. Police do periodically set up roadside checkpoints to arrest speeders, even in supposedly distant areas of the countryside.

japanese car laws
Obtaining a Japanese driver’s license is dependent on your country of origin and driving history. (Photo: Japan Guide)

Other Costs

Parking is a valuable commodity in Japan, and parking taxes are one of the reasons why many individuals in big cities avoid having a car. Renting a house or apartment does not guarantee you a parking place. 

In most circumstances, you must rent a parking space separately. The costs range from 2000 yen per month in the countryside to more than 100,000 yen per month in some districts of Tokyo. 

On the low end, you’d be hard pushed to locate a place in a large city for less than 10,000 yen per month. Some apartments are designed with parking spots, but management corporations sometimes lease these out to people who do not even reside in the building. 

It’s all about time and luck, at least in the cities. Parking is more plentiful and fairly priced in more rural regions, and there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to locate somewhere with a parking space included.

Expressway tolls are another expense to be mindful of. Japan has an outstanding highway system, with expressways connecting the majority of the country, saving you a significant amount of time traveling. 

Unfortunately, they are Japan road tax, and the costs add up rapidly the further you drive. The convenience is fantastic, but if you need to go somewhere quickly, be prepared to pay for it. 

Check out this video to check out something special about driving in Japan by car!

Final Words

The cost of owning a car in Japan, either old or new, is pretty much the same. The purchase cost of used cars will be lesser than the new ones.

A few years ago, there was a Japan car law requiring cars older than 10 years to pass an inspection test other than being shaken. That law is valid no more. The only extra cost that you have to bear is a 10% extra fee on the annual taxes for cars older than 13 years.