Guide to Driving In Japan - Drive Safe in Japan

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Japan and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.


30-50 kph

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80 kph

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motorway speed limit

100 kph

speed limit
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Drink Drive Limit


drink and drive limit
More info  
You drive in Japan on the Left side  
The currency in Japan is JPY
To rent a car is  21 years and to drive is 18 years of age
Current fuel price in Japan 1.04 €/Ltr

Driving Laws in Japan

Driving in Japan
Pocket guide to driving in Japan
Driving in Japan
SPEED: (kph)
Speed limit in Japan
Rush hour in Japan
Speed cameras in Japan
Fuel prices in Japan
Drive LEFT in Japan
Min driving age in Japan
Blood alcohol content
Drink driving in Japan
Emergency phone number in Japan
Driving documents in Japan
Hands free only
Mobile phone driving in Japan
Seat belt in Japan
See here for current child seats law in Japan

Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Japan?

Japan joins the group of only a few countries which drive on the left - it's often unexpected when travellers arrive there! Major cities have a lot of one-way systems. Most junctions are T junctions and there are hardly any roundabouts. In September 2014 fifteen locations in Japan  introduced roundabouts for the first time.

Japan Driving

Driving in rural areas is a much more pleasant experience than urban driving although the roads can be quite narrow. Take care driving through tunnels as some of them are not be well lit inside. In winter, mountain roads can become impassable due to snow.

Signs are only in Japanese outside of the cities and so if you do not speak the language it can be difficult. Make sure you have a good map with you at all times. Satellite navigation systems can also be invaluable and you can even plug the telephone numbers of the places that you want to get to as your coordinates. Many of the modern Japanese cars offered by rental companies will include GPS. This is because many streets do not have names and many houses are numbered in the order that they were built.

When driving watch out for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly at night or crossing at lights.

Rules of the road

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Emergency Services Numbers

Police Police: 110

Police Fire: 119

Police Ambulance: 119


Fuel Prices in Japan by Month

Parking Information

Parking regulations

Parking regulations
Parking costs depend on the size of city and the distance you are from the centre. Often parking is free in small town and cities. Tourists generally use hotel car parks as they are often free or charge a fixed fee.
Paid parking
Paid parking can be very expensive, especially in big cities. There are several types of parking with some very unusual ones including elevator parking where your car is stacked in a vertical pile and retrieved when you return and pay. Others have bars which block in your car and only lower once you've paid. 
There's a lot of automatic enforcement – if you don't pay, you don't get your car back.
Disabled parking
The Japanese are very helpful towards disabled people and whilst you won't be entitled to cost concessions, there are plenty of more accessible spaces available for disabled drivers.

Emergency Information

Emergency Information

Police Police: 110

Police Fire: 119

Police Ambulance: 119

Emergency contact numbers in Japan are 110 for police and 119 for the Fire and Ambulance service. The Tokyo English Lifeline at +813 5774 0992 provides advice and counselling in English.

The British Embassy is at No 1 Ichiban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8381 and can be contacted on +81352111100.
Their website is

The American Embassy is located at 1 Chome-10-5 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-8420 and can be contacted on +81332245000.
Their website is

What to do in an emergency

If you're involved in an accident , do not move the vehicle unless it is causing a danger to others. If you have a reflective jacket and warning triangle in your car (not compulsory) then you should use them. Call the police on 110 and inform your rental company. Whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive, swap insurance details with the other driver and collect details of witnesses. If you need help with the language then you can contact +813 5774 0992, the Tokyo English Lifeline.

Handy Guides

World Driving Guides

Road Signs

Handy Phrases

Sat nav system - Car Navi
Characters used on road signs – Kanjii
Compulsory insurance – Jibaisekihoken
Voluntary insurance - Nin’i no jidoshahoken
I have broken down - Watashi ga daun shite kowarete iru
Where is the police station? - Doko no keisatsusho ​​ ga aru?
I have a flat tyre - Watashi wa, panku shita taiya o motte iru
I have been in an accident - Watashi wa jiko ni atta
Where is? -  doko ni aru nodeshou ka?
Where can I buy petrol? - Watashi wa gasorin o dokode kōnyū dekimasu ka?

Japan Fuel Price History

Fuel Prices in Japan by Month
Month, YearDiesel €/ltrUnleaded €/ltr
Jan, 2021 0.89 1.04
Dec, 2020 0.88 1.03
Nov, 2020 0.88 1.03
Oct, 2020 0.88 1.05
Sep, 2020 0.89 1.05
Aug, 2020 0.88 1.04

Hiring a Car

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Japan and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.
Chloe Demaret
Posted by Chloe Demaret
About the Author -

Travel writer, social media guru, Chloe keeps our readers and customers up to speed with all the car rental and travel trends on our blog. Favourite destination: Dubai.

Visitor Comments

  • 29/10/2018


    You must stop at railroad crossings and turn your lights on when entering a tunnel. On country roads you have to stop sometimes to let others through. Many bridges in the countryside are one-lane. Be careful of "foreigner traps" aka drainage ditches on the sides of country roads. They are perfectly sized for a tire and you will need to call a tow truck to get out.
  • 29/10/2018

    Dan Templeton

    At nite, turn off headlights when turning on to road to avoid blinding other drivers
  • 29/10/2018


    I Am very impress the system in japan hi Tec and easy way to right approach for everyone.
  • 29/10/2018

    Abdul Mateen

    Absulutly correct my past experience when I get minkiyo sho from futamatagawa I realize rule is important
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