Buying A Car In Japan
Owning A Car In Japan 車
If you have a valid Japanese license or an international driver's license and a foreign driver's license that is at least 3 months old and is approved by the Japanese authorities then you can legally hire or buy a car while in Japan.
Hiring a car, rather than owning one, is becoming a cheaper option and is worth considering if you are a resident or visitor in Japan. Car hire companies congregate near major railway stations.
If they are distant from the station, most car rental companies will arrange to pick you up free of charge and transport you to their offices to arrange for the necessary formalities. Most hire cars now come with SatNav GPS car navigation systems as part of the package. You will be asked whether you wish to pay extra for fully comprehensive insurance and extra drivers.
Parking Space In Japan
Before purchasing a car in Japan you must have somewhere to park it. Normally this entails renting a parking space which must be within 2km distance of your residence.
You are required to submit a proof of parking form (chushajo shomeisho) to your local police station unless you own your own house which has a parking space or live in the countryside where parking is not an issue. Some apartment blocks will have parking spaces available and you should inquire about this when moving in Japan.
The proof of parking form entails drawing a simple map showing your residence in relation to your rented parking space and a confirmation stamp with your personal seal (hanko).
Parking spaces can be rented by the month and may involve paying a deposit of up to 3 months. Look around your neighborhood for a phone number usually displayed on a sign outside a parking area.
Buying A Car In Japan
With nearly 60 million cars on the road and with some of the largest and most prestigious car manufacturers on the planet, buying a car in Japan is not a problem. Used cars in Japan are usually in very good condition - you should note the date of manufacture, the mileage and the month when the compulsory road test (shaken) is due.
New cars can be bought from any of the big dealerships and credit is usually available as well as a trade in on your old car. If you are looking for a used vehicle there are many used car dealerships in any large town or city or you can search the local foreign classifieds, specialized used car magazines or look online.
Check with the dealer/seller on the age of the car, mileage and when the shaken (vehicle inspection) date is due. Except for new cars, all vehicles must pass an inspection every 2 years, done at local gas stations or car repair centers. Once your car has passed its shaken you will have a colored sticker pasted on your windscreen.
As with buying a second hand car anywhere ask to test drive the vehicle and check the brakes, headlights, steering, gears and the general condition of the body work. Look under the hood if you know anything about car engines.
Car Insurance In Japan
All drivers in Japan must have at least third party insurance and carry the documentation (hoken-shomeisho) along with your driving license in the glove compartment when driving.
Fully comprehensive insurance at various levels is also available and usually recommended.
If you do have a serious accident involving the hospitalizing/death of a third party or serious damage to another vehicle or property, the claims on your insurance will be large, if not to say, catastrophic.