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Travelling Japan by car

Jay&Simone

Hakuba, Nagano-ken
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Hi!

My partner and I are living in Japan and on our extensive break from work are wanting to travel and see more of Japan. Because of our residency status we are ineligible for the Japan Rail Pass and as we have experienced public transport can prove to be costly! So, we are considering buying a used van or wagon to make our way around Japan. This would cover the cost of travel and accomodation.

We are not going to be going into major cities so therefore driving in city Japan is not a concern. International drivers licences are covered as is some experience on the roads in Japan already.

Any feedback on this idea? positives and negatives, or is there someone who has already done this and could offer us some advice?

Much appreciated

Simone & Jay
 

xerxes99

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I don't have a lot of experience driving here, but when i drove to tokyo, the tolls were insanely expensive.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Buying a car in Japan is a lot of hassle.

1) You need a registered inkan, and a certificate of registration to verify that it is indeed registered at city hall.

2) You need to provide proof of a parking space. It's been a while since I last did it, but I do remember you have to draw a map detailing where your parking spot is. I have heard that this may not apply to "kei" cars, but I'm not sure about this.

3) You need to make sure that your shaken on your newly acquired vehicle is valid for a good amount of time, because it is expensive (on the order of 100,000 yen) to renew.

4) For all of the registration and what-not involved, tack on roughly 100,000 onto the sticker price.

5) Insurance is not so expensive, but be careful, as some places require that you pay the entire contract's duration (1 year) up front. Also note that if you are older than a certain age (I believe the youngest one is 25), you will be eligible for a discount, but if anyone younger than that age is driving your car at the time of an accident or whatever, the insurance company is not obligated to pay anything.

Traveling by car

1)Tolls are expensive, as xerxes said before. It's roughly the same price to drive by the tollway as to take the shinkansen places. The one good thing here is that you can split the cost.

2) You can take local roads, but they will take much longer to get to places.

3) Make certain you have a map you can read. It is very easy to get lost in Japan when you don't know the area if you're not careful. Especially if you're driving in the mountains.

4) Related to number 3, there are places in the countryside that have zero English on the signs. Be aware of this.

5) Turn your lights on when you go through tunnels.

Traveling by car can be very rewarding and it does allow a certain amount of freedom that you don't get with public transportation. Just remember that there are tradeoffs, such as the price and upkeep, finding parking, etc.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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You can easily buy an aged car/van with just a few months shaken left on it for under 100,000 yen. Generally the value of the vehicle itself will be ZERO, with the value of the unexpired portion of the mandatory inspection/insurance being the price of the vehicle. Naturally, you get what you pay for, but the good thing is that when you're done gallivanting around the countryside you can just retire it to the junkyard and be done with it. If it breaks down in the middle of your trip, pay the minimal fee to junk it where you are and take a train back home. It isn't as though one is ever inaccessibly far from Japan's rail system.

It all depends on your budget, fortitude, and sense of adventure as to what this becomes. You could get a cheapie van, sleep in the back, take local roads, and have a blast. Or you could buy something nice, sleep in hotels, take expressways, and have a blast.

Just keep in mind that while we have all heard stories of Japanese soldiers discovered after decades in the jungle, we have never heard a story of a foreigner discovered after decades of being lost in Japanese traffic. A little perspective for ya.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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You can easily buy an aged car/van with just a few months shaken left on it for under 100,000 yen. Generally the value of the vehicle itself will be ZERO, with the value of the unexpired portion of the mandatory inspection/insurance being the price of the vehicle.
What about all those registration fees, such as parking, etc.? I remember that my last car had the ticket price, and then a ton of registration fees tacked on top of it.
 

MajideSaiaku

tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai
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I was in a Japanese traffic jam once......part of me died that day......☝

😊
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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What about all those registration fees, such as parking, etc.? I remember that my last car had the ticket price, and then a ton of registration fees tacked on top of it.

The car I drive to work cost me 50,000 yen. Even with the various fees it didn't tote up to 100,000. The key for something like they have planned is to get one with enough time left on the inspection to complete the trip. It would be cheaper than getting a car with no remaining inspection for free (yes, I've seen cars for free, and at a dealer) and then paying for two years worth of inspection. Of course, if they plan to keep and use the vehicle after their trip, then they ought to get something a little nicer and more reliable. I'm only talking about buying a car with the intention of scrapping it at a junkyard immediately after the trip (or giving it to a friend).

The parking certification hassle could be a problem, depending on where they live. In my apartment one space is included in the rent and I pay 3,000/month to park a second car. If their apartment includes a spot that they're not using, they're good to go with just a little painless paperwork. If not, then it sort of depends on what the going rate is for a parking place where they live, and how long they will have to take it for.
 

Derekuma

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get a satnav..

use the back roads...

don't set a destination, set a direction & enjoy the journey..

I aimed to be the first gijin found after being lost on the back roads for decades & had a ball..

make a point of knocking on doors of the only house for miles to ask for directions, if you are lucky enough you will end up with a meal, a futon & the time of your life... it happened to me about 10 times in a 16 week trip & I have very little Japanese..
 

tigermilk

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How about a touring bike? One of my Japanese colleagues goes on an extensive bike tour each summer. I have taken my bike a few times and it really is a fabulous way to see the country. Nothing was better than the day I was in the mountains near Tsukuba overlooking the landscape below and listening to the winter thaw streaming down the mountain and birds in the distance.
 

Mike Cash

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I hope this doesn't turn out to be another of those people who sign up, post a question, and never bother coming back to check for replies.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I hope this doesn't turn out to be another of those people who sign up, post a question, and never bother coming back to check for replies.
It'S only been a day. Don't give up on her yet. (Although it would be nice to get a post acknowleging that she at least read the replies.)
 

Jay&Simone

Hakuba, Nagano-ken
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Thankyou

Wow! Thankyou for all your replies - some great advice. Cant believe it hasn't even been 24 hours and we have all these responses - we weren't expecting even one!

To fill you in a bit more we are living in Hakuba and will be taking a forced work break for a possible 8 weeks (Hakuba without snow isnt as popular!).

We dont have to worry about a parking space as we have one assigned to our apartment - we were told that this only applies to the bigger cities of Japan? In response, yes, we are planning on sleeping in the back of the car and taking the local roads to avoid tolls and experience it all. We will be using onsens along the way to 'shower'.

As for getting ourselves an inkan - after figuring out exactly what this was, although difficult, this shouldnt be a problem.

We are wondering peoples opinions on shaken - we will be in Japan most likely til mid 2008, so we have two options:

1 - Buy a cheap van (approx. 100 000 yen) without shaken, pay for shaken (approx. 100 000yen) once finished with the van, sell it with around 18 months shaken on it and possibly make the money back therefore being able to buy again if our plans lead that way.

2 - Buy a van with a small amount of shaken, as suggessted, and take it to the junkyard afterwards.

Any opinions on all the above?
Thanks again for all your replies

Simone & Jay
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Wow! Thankyou for all your replies - some great advice. Cant believe it hasn't even been 24 hours and we have all these responses - we weren't expecting even one!
To fill you in a bit more we are living in Hakuba and will be taking a forced work break for a possible 8 weeks (Hakuba without snow isnt as popular!).
We dont have to worry about a parking space as we have one assigned to our apartment - we were told that this only applies to the bigger cities of Japan? In response, yes, we are planning on sleeping in the back of the car and taking the local roads to avoid tolls and experience it all. We will be using onsens along the way to 'shower'.
As for getting ourselves an inkan - after figuring out exactly what this was, although difficult, this shouldnt be a problem.
We are wondering peoples opinions on shaken - we will be in Japan most likely til mid 2008, so we have two options:
1 - Buy a cheap van (approx. 100 000 yen) without shaken, pay for shaken (approx. 100 000yen) once finished with the van, sell it with around 18 months shaken on it and possibly make the money back therefore being able to buy again if our plans lead that way.
2 - Buy a van with a small amount of shaken, as suggessted, and take it to the junkyard afterwards.
Any opinions on all the above?
Thanks again for all your replies
Simone & Jay
I vote for number 2. You'll never get your investment back. But on that note, when you decide to junk your van, try to sell it to some place like Gulliver. See if you can get any money for it. You might get lucky.
 
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I travel in Japan by a motorcycle,
The facilities which I use frequently.
"michi no eki(A station of a road)"
The break facilities which Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport makes in Japanese various places.
Because there is a clean lavatory, I often camp at a parking lot.
道路:道の駅案内 - 国土交通省
Because there are ONSEN facilities at a station of some roads, it is convenient.

Free campground & bargain campground information.
キャンプ場口コミサイト
http://gokigen.main.jp/outdoor/camp/camp.htm

A super public bath of all parts of Japan.
supersentou.com

A public bath link
銭湯関連リンク
 

ET_Fukuoka

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There are many, many deals on cars with 1-6 months of shaken left on them for next to nothing. Since you said you have a parking spot already you are way ahead of the game!! If you have the right connections you can probably get a used car for just about free, then all you have to really worry about is getting a short insurance policy. I lived in Japan for a little over 5 years and the first 2 I didn't have a car. Although I had a blast without a car once I got a car it really changed my life!! Every weekend I would just grab my map and cheap window mounted compass (these really help when you are lost) and drive. Half the time I didn't know where I was going but that was half the fun.

Since you have time I would recommend not taking highways as they will eat up your money quickly. At first I didn't use the highways unless the drive was more than a couple hours or I was in a hurry. Later on I couldn't be bothered taking the regular roads.
 

Jay&Simone

Hakuba, Nagano-ken
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Thankyou again

Thankyou again for all the responses - they are all extremely helpful. Taking a motorbike around Japan isnt for us right now but who knows - maybe in the future!

A special thanks to Hiroyuki Nagashima - you have put in alot of effort - thankyou, we are just about to look at all the sites you gave us.

After looking into where we want to travel a bit over the last few days , we are keen to check out Shikoku. Anybody know of any specific spots we should definetley make part of our trip (in Shikoku or on the way down), please let us know.

Thanks again
Simone & Jay
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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Hiroyuki is a very valuable asset to the JREF community. He always does extra work to help others and I think we all appreciate his kindness and willingness to help others.
 
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Don't mention it.😌
I am weak in English,Therefore I cannot write half of what I want to convey,
However, I write what I know.
A magazine of "AUTO CAMPING" that I read well.
"GARRRV"
GARVY PLUS
A camping method in a car and used camping car information are written to this magazine.
"BE-PAL"
http://bv-bb.net/bepal/index.html
Outdoor information magazine.
"Convenient tool" and "how to play" are written.
For the Golden Week,I often travel in Shikoku,
Because Shikoku of this season is warm.
A trip spot.
Sanuki udon of Kagawa.
Cape Ashizuri-misaki, Cape Muroto-misaki.
A pinholder super logging road.
IYA ravine, 0obokeKoboke ravine.
Shimanto River, Mt. Ishizuchi-san.
tataki of a bonito.
Dogo Onsen of Matsuyama.
You should read this book before you eat Sanuki udon.
"Osorubeki Sanuki udon"
Amazon product
http://homepage2.nifty.com/zasi/bangai/udon.html
 

Uncle Frank

SECURITY
Admin
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Anyone still give rep??

Hiroyuki is a very valuable asset to the JREF community. He always does extra work to help others and I think we all appreciate his kindness and willingness to help others.

Not that it means a whole lot, but I always try to give a compliment and rep points to our members who help others or make a good thread or post. I kinda like the color green and would like to see more people have all those green boxes.

Uncle Frank

😌
 
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