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Maciamo
Oct 6, 2002, 14:43
Did you realise that there were no round-abouts in Japan (at least, I have never seen any) ?

There are also very few tunnels inside Tokyo, compared to older cities like Paris or Brussels, where you spend more time in tunnels than outside if you decide to take a turn on the ring road. Streets are too narrow to cope with the high affluence. Tokyo has been kind of blessed to have the opportunity to redesign its street plan after the WWII ground destruction (I know, it's a double-edge compliment as it also lost most of its historical heritage, but earthquakes have helped before anyway).

As a consequence, bottlenecks are scarce, even during the peaks, also thanks to the effecient synchornisation of traffic lights. The idea is to canalise the traffic on the large straight 6-lane arteries or on high-speed elevated motorways, whilst secondary streets are left as empty and narrow backstreets (what make them for convenient for bicycles and pedestrians).

The city's roads are built in the sky. The kousokudouro (expressway) fly above your head and cast their shadows on the surrounding concrete buildings. In this respect, Tokyo shares a lot with other Asian capitals like Bangkok or Seoul - which have been quick to catch up with their Japanese counterpart.

I was also quite surprised by the absence of squares in Japanese cities. Every Western city has its famous gathering place : Trafalgar square or Leicester Square in London, Time Square in NY, all the "places" in Paris (Vendome, Opera, Bastille...), Alexander or Potzdamer Platz in Berlin, the inumerable plaza in every Italian city... Most European cities have a City Hall square, several "market square" (even if cafes have taken over the market) and maybe some other as well. You'll usually find a Plaza Mayor in Spain, a Groote Markt in the Netherlands and Flanders, a Rathaus Platz in Germany...
30-million-people Tokyo has very little "wasted space". I can hardly think of even a minor square (L hiroba). There is a kind of little one around a fountain in front of Shimbashi Station and the overcrowded Hachiko meeting point in Shibuya, but they are wouldn't even qualify as a square in a minor European town.

What we learn from this here is that Japanese people prefer sacrificing architectural beauty and traditional meeting squares (where disgruntled populace can also gather to demonstrate) to the efficency of elevated highway in the middle of glamorous department stores and historical temples and making sure that every bit of space is used profitably (as land cost so much there).

thomas
Oct 6, 2002, 16:45
@ expressways

Architecture-wise a horrible thing. I've been to Bangkok, uhm, 11 years ago, there wasn't a single expressway to be found. I've seen recent pictures of Bangkok and was shocked: the city has turned into a maze of steel and concrete.

@ wasted space

I was impressed by these multistoried parking lots in Tokyo and elsewhere. Below there's a small example, they are usually larger.

moyashi
Oct 7, 2002, 01:12
@ parking
I've seen some really nice elevator type parking lots. Defintely something Japan excels at.

@ streets
hehe, somebody forgot to mention the 20-30km long traffic jams on the raised high ways during the U-turn return home traffic right before public holidays finish, the young kids who drive the circuit in Tokyo up to 250+ km/hour speeds at night, the drunk bus drivers who average 150 km/hr and what not.

True though, in general I think that Japan has been lucky with some of it's street work.

Unlike Tokyo, Sapporo was layed out in Western fashion from the start.

@ road construction
Currently with the economic downturn many planned highways are looking at being cut.

The construction of many roads are built in a soft manner so that every few years they need to be resurfaced due to the weight of trucks.

@ topic
This is one topic I've avoided since I complain about the condition in Sapporo all the time. Sapporo drivers are very different than those south who apparently have better manners.

tosh
Oct 7, 2002, 09:03
I've seen those elevator type car-parks in Manhattan.

Maciamo
Oct 7, 2002, 12:54
Unlike Tokyo, Sapporo was layed out in Western fashion from the start.

What do you mean ? I thought that Sapporo had a similar lay out to Kyoto, which took it from Ancient Chinese Chang'an (Xi'an). You'll never see such perpendicular vertical and horizontal streets anywhere in Europe. I guess you thought about American cities. The question is who copied whom ? As the US have much newer cities than Europe and Asia, it wouldn't be wrong to say that American have followed the traditional Chinese grid pattern lay out rather than the Western (i.e. European) one.

moyashi
Oct 8, 2002, 03:14
- Sapporo was layed out by Clark and his staff. Somebody took out a ruler and laid a grid to the map. Any streets that are confusing were later added by Japanese and their interesting techinique of road divination that must be a bad shinto joke.
- Sapporo was chosen over Mururan as the capital of Hokkaido by Clark. Clark was American.

Many Japaneses say that Sapporo Copies Kyoto but the only thing that is similar is the main road that leads straight from Sapporo Station and possibly the street naming conventions that are somewhat similar.

The Chinese layout (I'm basing on Kyoto's layout hoping that they stuck close to the Chinese system) is not really perpendicular as such.

The main castle sits at the top of the pyramid like layout. With one central street running straight from the main gates out of town. The perpendicular feel is from each "JO" that is horizontal starting in front of the main gates. No roads are, ahem, used behind the castle.

Sapporo was layout by Americans so ... I guess Americans copied Americans.
Kyoto, I agree copied China (I didn't know the city though).

Sapporo is layout based on Odori park which is the true center of town, which runs from West 1 to West 12. North 1 starts north of Odori Park and south the same. East and West are split by Sose River (lolo ... more like stream) which was a canal actually. Anything from East 1 to East ? and South 13 (errr Toyohira River) to ??? were at one time Red Light Districts or Farming areas.

Tokyo's layout I have clue. But I bet the crazy shinto gods had a blast and blessed those who live in the city with various noches and crannies ;)

nebosuke
Oct 8, 2002, 15:03
Here's a couple shots of the entrance to a parking structure. These had two towers, so you parked on a turnstile and they spun your car to whichever they wanted to load your vehicle into, so even the entryway was space efficient. I saw some that were exposed, instead of having walls, but it was in passing so didn't get any photos.

http://homepage.mac.com/sosb/.Pictures/parking.jpg

http://homepage.mac.com/sosb/.Pictures/turnstile.jpg

kslegers
Jan 1, 2005, 06:10
Hi there,

I have posted this question on other Japan-messageboards as well, but I would like to get as many people's opinions about this as I can... I will be travelling in Japan for 3 weeks next May. I would like to rent a car and drive around, but some travelguides and websites do not recommend driving in Japan to foreigners who cannot understand Kanji. On the other side, I have read some reviews of people who have driven in Japan who are very enthusiastic. Of course there is the option of public transportation, which is very good in Japan, but I do not really like the idea of sticking to fixed schedules and I would like to visit some outback areas. In this matter, I actually have two questions:
- do you consider driving in Japan to be too much of a problem if I cannot understand Kanji (I understand that detailed road atlasses are usefull and that roads are generally numbered, also GPS-navigation systems are available in rental cars)?
- how much money should I reserve for the toll fees (my route will be something like Nagoya - Mt. Fuji - Kamikochi, Ogimachi, Kanazawa - Kyoto - Shikoku - Miyajima - Nagoya)?

Thanks for your opinion!

Karin.

mr.sumo.snr
Jan 1, 2005, 21:15
Tolls are expensive. Gasoline is equally expensive. Parking lot fees - yep, expensive. Street parking - illegal. Remember we drive on the left in Japan. In-car navigation systems are ALL in Japanese. Good, detailed, large-scale road maps are expensive to buy and again only in Japanese. English road maps are basic. National highways are numbered - the numbering is NOT often repeated on the side of the road - unlike for example France where there is a route marker practically every 200 meters. Streets in towns and cities are NOT named - hence the need for a navi system or large-scale Japanese map. I think you're asking a lot of yourself to enjoy driving for three weeks in Japan on what appears to be your first visit here.

I'd go for buses and trains. Cut your timetable down. Take the time to meet people when traveling - not an option in a car. People are generally friendly and courteous when traveling on a bus or train. On the road Japanese forget all their manners. They drive extremely recklessly and very little care or attention for other road-users.

Keiichi
Jan 2, 2005, 03:27
Yeah, I highly suggest not using a car, espcially in populated areas like Kyoto, Nagoya, etc. It's not easy to find parking, and if you do, it's usually paid parking, which cost a lot, as mentioned. Traffic is so-so, I think, depending on where you're at, but the roads look quite narrow, too, even for a freeway (expressway..).
The toll is about 700 yen in the Tokyo area, and I hear it goes up to 3000 in others, and on your (long) travel, you'll have to go though more than one toll gate, most likely.
Just take a train or a bus and relax, instead. The train system is quite efficient. :)

Keiichi

:blush:

ArmandV
Jan 2, 2005, 05:35
I once considered renting a car in Japan also, but I was advised that it is more hassle than it's worth. The trains and subways will generally get you where you want to go. I also made good use out of the Tokyo taxis.

Elizabeth
Jan 2, 2005, 08:46
how much money should I reserve for the toll fees (my route will be something like Nagoya - Mt. Fuji - Kamikochi, Ogimachi, Kanazawa - Kyoto - Shikoku - Miyajima - Nagoya)?
You may want to rent a car for a day around Hakone, or find creative alternatives such as the aerial cableway/cruise on Lake Ashi, local buses etc. I wouldn't necessarily consider it proximal to Nagoya, so it really depends also on the amount of time you're looking to spend in each of these places and the side roads you're interested in pursuing.

Where are Kamikochi, Ogimachi in Gifu, by the way ? One of my most beloved spots in the entire country is aroung Kiso-Fukushima, a valley dotted with ancient post towns on the Nagano Nakesendo trail, magnificent views and beautiful scenery and a still strong historical flavor. :cool:

mangaman
Jan 3, 2005, 23:26
There are some areas that you really need a car to see but since it sounded like you haven't been to Japan before I'd say skip it, there is so much to see using public transportation that it is not worth the hassle. I think you could navigate no problem if you have a little patience. I used to estimate 1000 yen an hour for expressways plus the same for gas so it really adds up unless you have 3-4 people and parking in even small cities is crazily expensive. Stick to other means of transport for now.

budd
Jan 4, 2005, 03:10
"I have posted this question on other Japan-messageboards as well,"
search on them also
http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13229&highlight=license
good luck

Mycernius
Jun 1, 2005, 00:29
When I have saved up enough pennies to go Japan (hopefully soon) I was wondering is it worth hiring a car. If so what are the roads like in Japan and what are they like to drive on? I have looked for info, but I seem to get conflicting info from 'safe' to 'foolhardy' to 'they are all maniacs'. What is the safety record like on Japanese roads? How do they drive? :?

GaijinPunch
Jun 1, 2005, 13:08
If you're going to stay in Toyko, don't bother. It's a headache, and is really a "weekends only" type of thing. Japanese drivers (despite what some people think) are very safe-agressive drivers. They use blinkers, rarely change lanes, but move pretty quick and know what they're doing. Korea they are all maniacs. Ignore lane-dividers and drive on the sidewalks (I'm not joking). In Hawaii where I live now, they are just flat out awful drivers. Nobody uses or pays attention to blinkers, don't pay attention in general, and often plow over pedestrians. "Island" is a great way to describe these people. Since 1996, there have been 230 pedestrians killed, and something like 1500 injured. Alcohol only attributed to 1/4 of the accidents.

Mike Cash
Jun 1, 2005, 17:32
Japanese drivers (despite what some people think) are very safe-agressive drivers. They use blinkers, rarely change lanes, but move pretty quick and know what they're doing.

Excuse me, but that's the biggest load of bollocks I have ever heard. And I like to think I am in a position to know.

GaijinPunch
Jun 1, 2005, 17:59
Excuse me, but that's the biggest load of bollocks I have ever heard. And I like to think I am in a position to know.

And what part of that is bulllocks? What would you say? Dangerous agressive? Don't mind other peoples signals and whatnot? I can introduce you to a whole island of people that are statistically (and in actuality) much worse. Korea I've only visited a few times but it only takes once to see that Japan is a dreamland compared. Thailand is another crazy part of Asia that comes to mind. I never drove a car in Japan, but I rode in cabs... a lot. Almost daily the last 2-3 years. Wouldn't that put me in a "position to know"?

That's not to mention that I cycled for most of the time. From Ikejiri to Akasaka in morning and evening rush of all times.

I guess it's all relative though. If you've only been exposed to Metropolitan Tokyo and just about any other US city other than maybe the few big ones, you would obviously think otherwise.

Tim33
Jun 1, 2005, 18:03
Cab drivers would have to drive safe and keep there calm more then common drivers.
Same goes for everywhere.

If i sit in a taxi in England they drive smoothly and keep calm. I drive with someone i know of family etc there is usually swearing, cutting people off, the occasional fight.

However i have heard the Japanese aviod confrontation at all costs, is this the same for driving ???

GaijinPunch
Jun 1, 2005, 18:07
Cab drivers would have to drive safe and keep there calm more then common drivers.

There are some crazy ones, but for the most part they're the main culprites not changing lanes and whatnot. Longer ride = more money. It is frustrating. You can usually tell them to step on it if it's in a hurry. I had a massive dump coming on one morning and still had like 10 more minutes 'til I got to the office. He was cool, and ran some yellows and whatnot. He got to keep the change which was upwards of 900 yen or so.

Mike Cash
Jun 1, 2005, 20:26
And what part of that is bulllocks?

The entire portion that I quoted. That's why I selected that part to quote.



What would you say? Dangerous agressive? Don't mind other peoples signals and whatnot?

All that and more.


I never drove a car in Japan, but I rode in cabs... a lot. Almost daily the last 2-3 years. Wouldn't that put me in a "position to know"?

My driving in Japan has been feeding, clothing, and sheltering a family of four for at least 5 times that long. I play in Japanese traffic from 12-14 hours a day. I do it from a high perch in a tractor-trailer, with ample opportunity to observe traffic all around me. Like I said...I like to think I am in a position to express an informed opinion on it.




I guess it's all relative though. If you've only been exposed to Metropolitan Tokyo and just about any other US city other than maybe the few big ones, you would obviously think otherwise.

On a daily basis my driving ranges from the rural to the urban. Gunma to Tokyo/Yokohama and points around the Kanto area, averaging about 250km per day and covering all hours of the day for both rural and urban.

In the past it took me from Aomori in the north to Okayama in the west. Likewise with a generous blend of rural and urban. Same goes for the US; I've driven professionally in somewhere around 35 of the 48 contiguous states (I forget the exact number), rural and urban, north, south, east, and west. But that's not relevant to the point at hand.

Mike Cash
Jun 1, 2005, 20:31
Cab drivers would have to drive safe and keep there calm more then common drivers.


You would like to think so, wouldn't you?

Just the other day I remarked to a friend that in Tokyo if you fail the car license test three times they give you a taxi license as a consolation prize...or at least such would seem to be the case based on my observations.

Just today I called a cab company to report a driver for running a red light (and not by a little bit either), speeding, and weaving in and out of traffic recklessly. Lest I come off as a total ***** (I am a total *****...just don't want to look like one), I have also in the past called a cab company and passed on a compliment on a driver whose attention to driving safely in a severe downpour stood out and reflected very well on him and his company.

If you want my advice, in Tokyo stay the hell out of cabs operated by Tokyo Musen.

Ewok85
Jun 2, 2005, 00:30
(for those who cant take a hint, mike is a truck driver and is probably the best person to listen to for this.... and well anything really)

I ride a motorbike here in Aus but I'm anxious about taking that hobby up again in Japan, after what I saw last time I was there I would probably be safer taking a bus for my longer trips :(

Mycernius
Jun 2, 2005, 01:01
Truck drivers are one of the best to listen to for info. I should know, it is what I do in the UK. Cheers for the current info

GaijinPunch
Jun 2, 2005, 09:23
(for those who cant take a hint, mike is a truck driver and is probably the best person to listen to for this.... and well anything really)

It's all relative on what you're used to. Believe me. I rode a bicycle... not a moped, not a motorcycle, a dirt bike through these "dangerous drivers" for years. There's a certain zen to the traffic in Tokyo. Agressive? Yes. Overly dangerous and scary? I stick by my previous claim. I ride on the sidewalk most of the time in Hawaii. Too many speeding morons... and nobody can forget those statistics. I was run off the road by a city bus driver just two weeks ago. The day I moved here a 60 year old man was struck by a car going 40-50mph and died instantly. He was in the bicycle lane mind you.

I can't speak for much of the countryside. Did very little cycling while living in anything that resembled the sticks.

duff_o_josh
Jun 2, 2005, 13:48
one point that you are not recognizing gaijinpunch, is that mr. cash does this everyday. every single day. if i ever wanted info on driving here he would be the first person i would want advice from.

TheKansaiKid
Jun 2, 2005, 14:12
I drove in Japan quite a bit while I lived there. I had a car the whole 4 years and used it quite extensively. (though obviously not as much as a pro truck driver) I found several very common habits that I found particularly annoying. Going through red lights is such a common occurance that I've seen guys do it right in front of a cop with no qualms about it, and stop signs are often treated as slow slightly signs. The following distance on the expressways are WAY too close. It is very scary to look up in the rearview mirror to see truck headlights so close you think the truck is in the back seat.

However I made it through the 4 years without a single accident. Most of my driving was in rural Japan mainly Nara-ken but I often drove in Osaka and made 2 trips to Tokyo. The original post was "wondering if he should rent a car" and I think if you are interested in getting off the beaten trail it can be very rewarding, and if you can drive in London you will probably survive it in Japan... but make sure you get the insurance

GaijinPunch
Jun 2, 2005, 17:30
one point that you are not recognizing gaijinpunch

I'm fully aware of that... which is why I didn't question in it.


if i ever wanted info on driving here he would be the first person i would want advice from.

In this case you'd be getting a pretty biased report.

Mike Cash
Jun 2, 2005, 18:04
Biased, but informed.

DoctorP
Jun 2, 2005, 19:33
well, I don't particularly think that drivers in Japan are that safe. I mean they put stickers on new/elderly drivers cars so that they have less responsability and more on you to be "aware" of those drivers and what they "might" do! Also, taxi drivers and buses have the right of way no matter what! Taxis can may an illegal U turn or drive at incredibly slow paces to try and drum up business from people who are not even trying to hail cabs! IMHO Taxis in Japan are the least safe drivers on the road.

GaijinPunch
Jun 3, 2005, 14:09
Biased, but informed.

I don't see how my opinion is uninformed...especially considering the person asking seems to have never been.

As a systems engineer I would tell you that Windows is a gigantic turd. Poor architecture and design, filled with holes, expensive, and overall unpleasant. I might even say it's a bollocks OS. As much as I hate to admit it, that does not make it fact... only my interpretation after using it (and the competition). Or perhaps I should say informed.


I mean they put stickers on new/elderly drivers cars

Sounds like another country I know of.


IMHO Taxis in Japan are the least safe drivers on the road.

Well, I don't disagree with you. Before blaming them though I would blame a system that requires them to work 24 hour shifts with minimal break. All things considered, I think they're pretty skilled given the stress of their job. In their defense... I've sat in many sedated taxis. I prefer the reckless ones. I'd also like to see a source on that U-turn claim. Sounds fishy, obviously.

Final Thought: If the population of the city you're from barely hits 6-digits, you'll probably not like the driving scene in Japan (Tokyo specifically). If you're from another big city, you should do fine.

Mike Cash
Jun 3, 2005, 16:57
I don't see how my opinion is uninformed...especially considering the person asking seems to have never been.

I didn't say your opinion is uninformed. For that matter, I don't see how my opinion is biased, but I didn't feel like arguing about it.



Well, I don't disagree with you. Before blaming them though I would blame a system that requires them to work 24 hour shifts with minimal break. All things considered, I think they're pretty skilled given the stress of their job. In their defense... I've sat in many sedated taxis. I prefer the reckless ones. I'd also like to see a source on that U-turn claim. Sounds fishy, obviously.

List me as a source, if you like. I prefer those to the ones like I encountered the other day in Naka-Meguro who decided he would make a right turn from the left turn lane. The taxi was radio #1873 of Nihon Koutsuu.



Final Thought: If the population of the city you're from barely hits 6-digits, you'll probably not like the driving scene in Japan (Tokyo specifically). If you're from another big city, you should do fine.

Not necessarily. Often when I see a car driving cluelessly and seemingly befuddled in Tokyo I take a look at the license plate and say to myself, "Yep. Yokohama tags."

GaijinPunch
Jun 4, 2005, 07:01
I didn't say your opinion is uninformed. For that matter, I don't see how my opinion is biased

Sorry then. Just sounded that way. I think by default your opinion on traffic would be biased though. I think anything someone does daily, especially for a job, has an impact on how they see things.


Naka-Meguro who decided he would make a right turn from the left turn lane. The taxi was radio #1873 of Nihon Koutsuu.


Not necessarily. Often when I see a car driving cluelessly and seemingly befuddled in Tokyo I take a look at the license plate and say to myself, "Yep. Yokohama tags."

Well indeed every population is going to have some seriously clueless people. I guess some people are luckier than others when it comes to how often they encounter them.

Mike Cash
Jun 6, 2005, 15:26
Sorry then. Just sounded that way. I think by default your opinion on traffic would be biased though. I think anything someone does daily, especially for a job, has an impact on how they see things.

Imagine for a moment a discussion of the various flavors of Windows. Imagine that one fellow pipes up and says, "I've never used Windows myself, but I've been in the room when other people were using it, and I think 3.1 is a jim dandy operating system." And another fellow says, "I've used 3.1, 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP. 3.1 sucks".

Would his opinion be biased? Or just better informed?

Saying that someone's opinion is "biased" gives the impression that the opinion is either based on a misunderstanding of actual facts or, more likely, dishonestly presented in a manner inconsistent with actual facts.

duff_o_josh
Jun 6, 2005, 17:59
well, I don't particularly think that drivers in Japan are that safe. I mean they put stickers on new/elderly drivers cars so that they have less responsability and more on you to be "aware" of those drivers and what they "might" do! Also, taxi drivers and buses have the right of way no matter what! Taxis can may an illegal U turn or drive at incredibly slow paces to try and drum up business from people who are not even trying to hail cabs! IMHO Taxis in Japan are the least safe drivers on the road.

japan isnt the only place where new drivers have to have somesort of sticker on there car. in british columbia canada, new drivers have to have a huge green "n" sign on their vehichle. one thing i find a little dangerous about japanese drivers is the curtiousy to turn off their headlights at intersections, but not all remember to turn them back on, thats a bit scary when crossing the road.

DoctorP
Jun 7, 2005, 00:34
japan isnt the only place where new drivers have to have somesort of sticker on there car. in british columbia canada, new drivers have to have a huge green "n" sign on their vehichle. one thing i find a little dangerous about japanese drivers is the curtiousy to turn off their headlights at intersections, but not all remember to turn them back on, thats a bit scary when crossing the road.


Well, coming from the US, this was new to me...also, they are not held as liable in an accident as you would be...even if they hit you. You (being an experienced driver) should not have been in the area at the time of impact seems to be the train of thought here! Basically, because they have that little sticker, I am supposed to read their freakin' mind and know that they are gonna change lanes without a signal and sideswipe my car in my blind spot! :? But no worries here, I stay away from the new drivers and the elderly ones too! Those damn taxi's and the driving school cars get on my nerves the most though!

Mike Cash
Jun 7, 2005, 05:18
The stickers for the new drivers are mandatory for the first year. The stickers for the elderly drivers are optional.

GaijinPunch
Jun 7, 2005, 09:00
Saying that someone's opinion is "biased" gives the impression that the opinion is either based on a misunderstanding of actual facts or

Doesn't a biased opinion just mean leaning one way or the other... regardless of what that opinion is based on?

I'd have to disagree with both Windows users... Calling me tainted is an understatement, so perhaps that was a bad analogy. Perhaps if I spent all day in trafffic, I'd have a different view of that as well.

Mike Cash
Jun 7, 2005, 20:01
In what way does my opinion lean? Away from an accurate representation of the actual circumstances, I mean.

Today's taxi-drivers-have-l33t-skillz balloon burster:

I was sitting at a red light on Yamate-dori in Shinjuku today. Next to me were two taxis. The one in the front was driven by Mr. Magoo. Traffic cleared out a little bit on the other side of the light and Mr. Magoo takes off. The taxi behind him took off behind him.

Only problem was....the light didn't change from red to green until about 10 seconds after they were both gone.

GaijinPunch
Jun 8, 2005, 08:49
Doing something all day every day will taint anyone's opinion on anything, no? That's all I was getting at.

Mike Cash
Jun 8, 2005, 17:08
Doing something all day every day will certainly affect anyone's opinion on anything, I agree. As to whether it will taint it or not......

GaijinPunch
Jun 9, 2005, 10:53
Touche'
--------

khammo01
Aug 15, 2005, 15:32
I would strongly recommend to not hire a car here unless you have experienced life in Japan before. The streets are excessively narrow, full of non-vehicle traffic (and things), parked cars, obstructed line of sight, cars parked in the middle of intersections, across pedestrian crosswalks, etc.

The only thing that keeps the whole system from falling apart is strong adherence to driving protocol and driver-driver communication. If you aren't aware of this protocol, that sounds like an 'accident waiting to happen.'


Excuse me, but that's the biggest load of bollocks I have ever heard. And I like to think I am in a position to know.


I have to agree with the original reply to the Post. I drive several times a week. In Japan, people ALWAYS signal, are generally very attentive, and there is hardly ever any doubt about what another vehicle will do. Whether or not this predicted behavior is what you would do, or what you would like them to do, is another matter.
Partly for this reason, perhaps, a bystander may think it looks like chaos.



I personally find it extremely frustrating to drive in Japan, but I rarely feel like an accident is about to happen.

I hardly ever am surprised and in all these years of driving in Japan, I've never had to slam on my brakes.

Part of this is knowing which drivers are going to be defensive and which are going to be aggressive. This is also highly predictable.

Now, I would agree with you on the parking habits of Japanese. This area is absolutely pathetic.

Also, if you live in Kansai, people probably are a lot more aggressive in their driving habits.

Revenant
Aug 15, 2005, 15:53
I wouldn't recommend driving in Japan. The rental cars themselves are expensive, and the subway in the big cities is reasonable and covers most of the city pretty well.

I live in what Japanese would call the countryside (600 000 people), and the narrow lanes, with some cars speeding past you coming from the opposite direction, as well as blind corners, and confusing roads (a lot of them don't follow any sort of north-south, east west pattern), all made me just nervous when I first started driving here.

They also have these streets that are one-way, and all the locals know where to wait, and when they can go. A non-local will just forge ahead, and it can be a headache getting around others on a narrow street as such.

Mike Cash
Aug 15, 2005, 16:28
The only thing that keeps the whole system from falling apart is strong adherence to driving protocol and driver-driver communication.

Are you suggesting that Japanese drivers tend to be sticklers for driving protocol and driver-driver communication? If so, that's hilarious.





I have to agree with the original reply to the Post. I drive several times a week. In Japan, people ALWAYS signal, are generally very attentive,

More hilarity.



and there is hardly ever any doubt about what another vehicle will do. Whether or not this predicted behavior is what you would do, or what you would like them to do, is another matter.

Good point. Always assume that the other person will do the stupidest, rudest, most dangerous thing possible and you'll avoid most accidents. (And that advice goes for driving anywhere, not just Japan).



I personally find it extremely frustrating to drive in Japan, but I rarely feel like an accident is about to happen.

What's that old expression?...."If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you probably don't know what the hell is going on" or something like that.



I hardly ever am surprised and in all these years of driving in Japan, I've never had to slam on my brakes.

Maybe you don't get out and drive enough.



Part of this is knowing which drivers are going to be defensive and which are going to be aggressive. This is also highly predictable.

Now, I would agree with you on the parking habits of Japanese. This area is absolutely pathetic.

Also, if you live in Kansai, people probably are a lot more aggressive in their driving habits.

Those last three paragraphs are full of good points. Particularly the last one. Kansai drivers make Tokyo drivers look solicitous by comparison.

GaijinPunch
Aug 16, 2005, 08:01
More hilarity.

Come to Hawaii. Less traffic, more space, yet they still seem to smack into pedestrians on a regular.

Mike Cash
Aug 16, 2005, 08:18
Some pedestrians just seem to really need a good smacking, doncha think?

Windy
Aug 16, 2005, 09:21
is gaijinpunch a fighting style or a drink?

GaijinPunch
Aug 16, 2005, 11:52
Some pedestrians just seem to really need a good smacking, doncha think?
There is indeed a lot of truth to that.


is gaijinpunch a fighting style or a drink?

It is neither. It's just a name I came up with. I was frequenting the game centers back in my younger chain smoking days when Virtua Fighter 4 came out, and they had the cards which stored your name and displayed it on-screen while you fought. I was clearly a gaijin, and it was a fighting game so I went with 'punch'. After that, it just stuck.

GaijinPunch
Aug 17, 2005, 11:57
3 Japanese (on the sidewalk) were hit by a car in Waikiki this last week my wife tells me. :/

Mycernius
Aug 17, 2005, 23:13
I live in what Japanese would call the countryside (600 000 people), and the narrow lanes, with some cars speeding past you coming from the opposite direction, as well as blind corners, and confusing roads (a lot of them don't follow any sort of north-south, east west pattern), all made me just nervous when I first started driving here.

Narrow lanes don't really bother me, as we have quite a few in the UK. Plus most of our cities don't follw the north-south, east-west patterns.

Mike Cash
Aug 18, 2005, 00:05
I live in what Japanese would call the countryside (600 000 people), and the narrow lanes, with some cars speeding past you coming from the opposite direction, as well as blind corners, and confusing roads (a lot of them don't follow any sort of north-south, east west pattern), all made me just nervous when I first started driving here.


I was also nervous as hell the first time I tried driving here, what with it being my first time on the other side of the car and the other side of the road and all. I thought I'd have to give up the idea of ever driving here. Now, though, I support a family of four (and a cigar merchant in Illinois) by driving in Japan. Go figure.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 18, 2005, 17:46
Mike Cash, as a professional truck driver, obviously knows what he's talking about. He has probably driven more already than I ever will in my entire lifetime. But I must take issue. Of course the bad drivers stand out and over the course of years one will encounter many bad drivers, but wouldn't you agree that for every maniac driver there are at least 10 (I'll be conservative) perfectly sane drivers in Japan? I think that if you drive every day as Mike Cash does, you may often find your life threatened by other drivers, but if you are here for a short vacation, your own driving would be much more of a concern, as it's unfamiliar territory.

DoctorP
Sep 20, 2005, 11:40
No, it doesn't work that way. Every 5 minutes you will see (probably) more than 10 drivers that you could consider poor...they may just not be very attentive...but that translates into a bad driver. Especially when they routinely cut you off, turn without signals, park on the side of the road or major highway in front of a no parking sign so that they can either pee or talk on their cell phone...there is an endless list of offenses.

GaijinPunch
Sep 20, 2005, 14:49
No, it doesn't work that way.

The way it works is opinion. It is very much the same question of "don't Japanese people treat foreigners badly". Different experiences = different opinions. I rode a bicycle from Ikejiri to Akasaka for years (in the street) and the only accident I had involved one person -- me (and a curb and some sidewalk). I have an office full of people that lived and drove in Japan for many years, that can't say enough good things about the drivers when compared to our current location.


they may just not be very attentive

I live on an island full of much less attentive drivers.

Silverpoint
Sep 20, 2005, 15:35
While my own opinion of Japanese drivers is mixed, I think part of the problem with a lot of 'casual observers' is that they come here for a few weeks holiday, drive around a bit and of course being a stranger in a new country pay a lot more attention to what is going on around them (including other motorists, and their driving habits).

This even goes for people who live here for a year or more, who may never actually drive that often, but perhaps hire a car for a couple of weeks during a summer vacation to go looking around Japan.

Perhaps back home where their driving is more relaxed and familiar, they wouldn't notice so many people driving badly because the level of attention being paid is much lower.

On the flipside, I am frequently shocked by the lax attitude towards drunk driving over here, particularly amongst young people. I've refused a seat in a car on more than one occasion before, because the driver was slurring and stumbling before getting behind the wheel. Certainly the stigma attached to drink driving over here doesn't seem as serious as it is back home. This is especially unbelievable up here in Sapporo where the road surface changes to a 10 inch layer of sheet ice for several months of the year.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 21, 2005, 00:38
On the flipside, I am frequently shocked by the lax attitude towards drunk driving over here, particularly amongst young people. I've refused a seat in a car on more than one occasion before, because the driver was slurring and stumbling before getting behind the wheel. Certainly the stigma attached to drink driving over here doesn't seem as serious as it is back home. This is especially unbelievable up here in Sapporo where the road surface changes to a 10 inch layer of sheet ice for several months of the year.
What do you mean by young people? Most Japanese people I know would NEVER drink and then drive. Or at most drink only one drink and then stop. I'm talking at any age 24 and up (at least up to 80 anyway).

I agree with your point execept that, it was mikecash, who drives long hours every day, that was talking about how bad the drivers here are. I personally think they are no worse considering the driving conditions than American drivers, but he has obviously experienced many more drivers both American and Japanese than I have.

budd
Sep 21, 2005, 01:44
i've always felt like i was gonna get run over just walking down the street if there is very little or no sidewalk
have seen one or two fender benders while visiting also
did anybody mention the headlights being turned off?

Pachipro
Sep 21, 2005, 02:04
On the flipside, I am frequently shocked by the lax attitude towards drunk driving over here, particularly amongst young people. I've refused a seat in a car on more than one occasion before, because the driver was slurring and stumbling before getting behind the wheel. Certainly the stigma attached to drink driving over here doesn't seem as serious as it is back home. This is especially unbelievable up here in Sapporo where the road surface changes to a 10 inch layer of sheet ice for several months of the year.
Is this really so? I know it was lax back in the day when I was living permanently there. But we're talking 15+ years ago. I now hear that if one is caught Driving While Intoxicated that

1) They lose their license forever.

2) They are fined 1,000,000 yen ($10,000) and

3) All passengers in the car are also fined 1,000,000 yen each.

Is this true, or is this info from my Japanese wife exagerated a bit? I didn't look it up so I am just going on what she has told me.

Mike Cash
Sep 21, 2005, 05:01
She exaggerated it to the moon and back.

Silverpoint
Sep 21, 2005, 08:57
3) All passengers in the car are also fined 1,000,000 yen each.


Although I don't know about the size of the fine, I have heard that if you hold a valid Japanese license and you are passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver, you can also be prosecuted. Mike might know more about this than me though.

GaijinPunch
Sep 21, 2005, 09:45
Drunk driving story from a colleague of mine. Yes, he/they know they were very stupid for doing this.

Late night. Couple of friends were going home around 2 or 3 AM. They had been drinking scotch and smoking cigars. Needless to say -- bombed. They come up to one of those road blocks where the driver sticks his head in and smells the drivers breath. He stuck his head in, took a whiff, and said, "Okay, go ahead". They just looked at each other and went on. Doesn't sound like they're that serious about it.

I got stopped on a scooter one time in a similar situation. I only had a few beers, but I think in the states, I'd have had to walk the line. Luckily, I diidn't, as I had no license.

Silverpoint
Sep 21, 2005, 19:41
I was being given a ride home by my coworker last year in his Pajero, when we got pulled over by the police. Apparently he'd been drinking more than he let on and knew he'd get busted so when the cop tapped on the window, he floored the gas pedal and drove off, at speed. Straight through a red light, with me in the passenger seat. There was no police car ready to give chase (I guess they just never anticipated this course of action) and one police officer chased us on foot for about 100 meters until he disappeared from sight in the rear view mirror. They can't have even got the license plate number because nothing was ever heard about it again. It can't be that hard to trace a big bloody 4x4 being driven by a gaijin. Doesn't say much for the police effort to stamp out drunk driving.

I'm not condoning or gloating over what happened by the way and the above story is not meant to be 'cool'. Much as I like my coworker, he was an idiot. I have a friend back in England who was walking to the shops one day when he was hit by a drunk driver. He's 28 years old, and now has a mental age of 2. He spends his days sitting in a special wheelchair, can't support his own head and has to wear diapers.

Pachipro
Sep 22, 2005, 01:44
She exaggerated it to the moon and back.

I found a link here (http://web-japan.org/trends01/article/030318soc_r.html) that says, as of 2002, the fine for driving while drunk in Japan is 500,000 yen and for driving under the influence it is 300,000 yen. Other places such as forums and such have said that your license is suspended for 2-3 years and that the passengers in a car with a drunk or impared driver are also fined the same amount as the driver.

GaijinPunch
Sep 22, 2005, 06:52
and that the passengers in a car with a drunk or impared driver are also fined the same amount as the driver.

Well, this is a country in which an entire prefecture has to apologize for one of it's citizens actions from time to time.

JerseyBoy
May 24, 2008, 14:19
I just get annoyed with the bikers who drive in the middle or side of the road without any regards to the vehicle traffic and the traffic lane. I am used to driving in USA and the bike (motor bike) is considered same as the regular passenger car there. So, the biker stay behind me when I am at the stop light. But, in Japan, the biker (including the scooter) weave around and get in frond of me at the stop light and block my launch after the light turns green.

I also see many Japanese motorists run a red light or jump on the red light before the traffic light turns green.

***End of Rants****

What do you think?

ASHIKAGA
May 24, 2008, 15:21
As far as I know, the same trafic laws extend to motor bikes in Japan with scooters being an exception. While I do encounter those annoying kids on motorcycles, I am more annoyed by people on bicycles. Mind you, not ALL bicyclists are bad but many of them that I see everyday just do not have any common sense.

Young students riding side by side while text messaging on their cell phones.

Old folks riding dangerously close to the middle of the street VERY slowly.

Obasans (middle aged women) who ride as if they OWN the street. If you honk your horn, they give you a look that says " I will be talking about YOU, Mr. Driver Man, when I get together with my girlfriends later! You nearly ran me over!" that almost makes you wish you had.

:auch:

Rizaric
May 28, 2008, 05:45
Traffic is fairly tame in Japan. Pretty much anywhere you go you'll find bad drivers though.

Visit any other country in south east asia and you'll see how motor bikes truly drive.

otoko
May 30, 2008, 11:36
I just get annoyed with the bikers who drive in the middle or side of the road without any regards to the vehicle traffic and the traffic lane. I am used to driving in USA and the bike (motor bike) is considered same as the regular passenger car there. So, the biker stay behind me when I am at the stop light. But, in Japan, the biker (including the scooter) weave around and get in frond of me at the stop light and block my launch after the light turns green.
I also see many Japanese motorists run a red light or jump on the red light before the traffic light turns green.
***End of Rants****
What do you think?
The scooters and motorcycles don't bother me. Sure the weave and come up in front of you at the signal. The signal is red, I don't see how the block your "launch". It isn't like they just sit there.

I don't think this has anything to do with Japanese people in particular. People run redlights everywhere. I personally haven't seen anybody jump on a red light before it turns green in Tokyo. People accelerating on a yellow, yes.

I can only compare Tokyo to NYC.

NYC is much much easier to navigate than Tokyo.
Taxis are reckless in both places but NYC taxis drive way too fast. Japanese taxis will stop anywhere(not good except for maybe the person trying to hail the taxi).

Too much traffic in NYC, too much honking.

There are more scooters and motorcycles in Tokyo. So much so that I can't compare bike behavior between the two cities.

If there is anything that bothers me about driving in Tokyo it is this: people in a rush who change lanes thinking that it is getting them there faster only to realize that they have ended up in a left turn or right turn only lane. They then want back in even though they can't because by then you are not allowed to cross lanes. They then create congestion. I can forgive the beginner drivers. I can forgive people not knowing the roads and where lanes merge and converge. It pisses me off when a experienced driver with Shinagawa plates busting through lanes finds himself in the wrong lane and then wants to cut in front of me. Bite the bullet and take that left and go away.

pipokun
May 30, 2008, 21:20
I wondered where to post this, but I think it would be good to ease your frustration while driving in Japan.

From June 1 on, the notorious cyclist manners will be persecuted here. Actually I should say the ambiguity of the law enforcement will become slightly clearer than before.
I bet the cops will be glad to work hard after having their new regulations for the first few months. So be careful.


This is not an official translation, so go to the police box nearby.
Basic rules for bicycles
Keep to the left margin of the road.
You may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk ONLY where so indicated and ONLY children younger than 13 and the elderly older than 70. Keep the rightmost margin of the sidewalk at easily stoppable speed.
It is not allowed for two persons to ride on one bicycle
except when you put your child on a child seat;
when you carry your child on your back;
and when you put your child on a child seat and carry another child on your back.
It is not allowed to hold an umbrella, a mobile phone, other things, or to listen to ipod, or whatever, while riding a bicycle.
At railway crossings or STOP signs, stop and look both ways before crossing.
Observe traffic signals at intersections.
You may cross an intersection for pedestrians.
Make a hook turn when you turn right.
Needless to say, no drink & ride.
This is not for cyclists.
Backseat passengers are also required to fasten one's seat belts.


I am afraid of a situation...
the more cyclist gangs (moms) on the road, the more you'd be frustrated to drive here.

nanook
May 30, 2008, 22:50
...It is not allowed to hold an umbrella...Reminds me, that I'll have to go and buy a baa-chan style umbrella holder for my bike. With those in place, umbrella-biking is still street-legal, afaik.

Thanks for the reminder, pipokun :)

Revenant
May 30, 2008, 23:05
As ASHIKAGA has already said, the cyclists are the most annoying. I'll be in a bit of a rush and get stuck behind four highschool kids riding four abreast, and they'll move out of your way in their own good time.

And then I've had a couple highschool cyclists come flying around blind corners directly in front of me, and if I had been going just a little faster I would've hit them. One of the chicks had a vacantly happy expression on her face as I careened to get out of her way... crud was I ever cursing her!