View Full Version : Driving

May 20th, 2004, 10:57
Hi everyone

Okay, it's really late and I should be sleeping as I have work tomorrow. But I just got reply from my predecessor. I told her in a previous e-mail that it's impossible for me get a driving license before I leave for Japan (as I haven't got the money or the time). She was quick to reply and stress the fact that I really should get a license before Japan. I'm going to be in the south of an island with a half an hour car journey to the north where it's possible to catch a boat to mainland Kyushu.

I love my placement and can't wait to see it for real but this e-mail has got me thinking about how my independence might be hindered by not being able to drive a car :?

Is anyone else in the same boat? It'll be nice to share feelings about cars and stuff! :)



May 20th, 2004, 15:15
Hi Jonathan, ok I'm in the inaka and I suppose for me having a car would be nice but I don't really need it. I have access to the local trains, as bad as they are, so I'm not too bad off. The only thing that would lead me to buying a car is that the trains shut down around 10pm. So when I'm on a night out I have to either go home early or stay at somebody's house.

However, your situation might be different. Because you are living on an island having a car might be important. I know two people living on islands and they got a car within 3 days of arriving mainly because the transportation on the island was so backwards (no trains and buses every hour or so, in some cases more).

I don't know much about your island, and you may have a better transportation system.

I'm from the UK also so I was thinking of going on an intensive course for a week or so and get my license so I can drive here. UK mainly uses manual cars, for Japan most people drive automatic cars. Get an automatic license, it's far easier than manual (no clutch) and I think you can still convert it.

May 20th, 2004, 17:39
woah, 1/2 hour drive on an island? Must be either a big island, or a windy road with crappy speed limits.

Anyway, ask your predecessor if there's a bus to the boat place. If there's a bus, then no problem.

Another alternative is a bike.

May 20th, 2004, 17:40
Hi Jonathan,

As you know, I can't drive either and there's no way I can afford any lessons (never mind the tests!) before I go. I have my fingers crossed I'll be somewhere near a train station.

To be honest, if it turns out I'm in a location where a car would be essential, I may even consider turning it down! I could spend a few months maybe, but a year being so isolated? I'm not sure if I could do that!

Sorry, that's not the kind of thing you want to hear, is it? I suppose having a car would be very useful for you but it doesn't mean you won't be able to get about. Is there any public transport on the island at all?

A half hour car journey is possible by bike, surely, and think of all the exercise you'll get! In fact, travelling by bike means you'll get to see a lot more than those drivers!

I really can't believe that JET would be so stupid and inconsiderate to place you somewhere where a car is necessary when you said quite clearly on your application that you can't drive! Have you spoken to the embassy yet? They may be able to help or at least put your mind at rest.

On a lighter note, I'm just writing a letter to someone who lives on Penny Lane! How great is that!

May 20th, 2004, 18:23
Hi everyone!

I am also in the same situation. I've put off learning to drive for 10 years but once I applied for JET I decided that I would use it as my motivation for learning to drive (just in case....). Anyway, the long and short of it is that I only started learning 4 weeks ago and now I only have one chance at passing before we leave 8O (so under no pressure whatsoever!!)

However... thinking about it I don't think I will be able to get an international license to use in Japan even if I did pass - as I THINK you have to have held your UK license for at least 3 months (if not more) before applying for the international license. Does anyone know if this is correct??


May 20th, 2004, 18:24
I'm pretty sure that's correct. However, I know you can use a UK licence to obtain a proper Japanese one, but I don't know how that actually works.

May 20th, 2004, 18:51
Hey Jonathan

Just a thought - is your predecessor American/Canadian? If so that may explain why she is so insistent you getting a license before you get out there.

Nothing against our buddies across the Atlantic but I have noticed that the driving culture is very different from the UK - it seems that they drive everywhere! At our offices in Dulles it's 500m from the car park to the strip of restaurants most people use for lunch and everyone drives the distance!!


May 20th, 2004, 18:55
That's a very good point, Alex. Not being able to drive in the States is like not knowing how to use a fork. They sure do love their cars over there!

May 20th, 2004, 19:05

Yeah, she is Canadian actually - maybe that has something to do with it. I don't really want to contact the embassy as I haven't heard anything official from them yet and don't really want to bitch about my placement as the island looks fantastic!

I think I might have to resort to any public transport and a bicycle. I cycle a lot in the UK and I reckon I could cover the distances in good time. However, doing this in a sub-tropical climate might be a tad torturous, I guess I'll have to see. All part of the fun eh? :)



May 20th, 2004, 19:11
cycling is the way forward, save the planet and get fit. I'm not bitter that i can't drive.

May 20th, 2004, 19:22
Alternatively, you've got spaceships on that island right? I reckon with a bit of bartering you could set yourself up quite nicely with one of them! ;-)

Now, now, i'm not being helpful at all am i? Sorry Jonathan, exam madness going to my head!

I don't get JET sometimes, i mean, they ask you whether or not you can drive, so that you're not stuck in situations like this surely??!! Are they really that stupid? Maybe Alex is right, maybe your pred is saying that coz a car is a convenience rather than a necessity? Damn this annoys me, do they read anything we put down on them forms!?!

I reckon you'll be fine with a bike (or get yourself a little moped!! cool!) and plus, wait and see till you get there, judge the situation for yourself! There's probably other JETs there with cars, you can get lifts with them!

Don't worrry, it'll all be cool!

May 20th, 2004, 19:24
I dont have a driving licence either, I've never had any need for a car in this country. Hopefully this doesn't mean that selecting hokkaido as first choice was a big mistake. surely they must take it into account that you can't drive before giving you somewhere in the middle of nowhere, so its probably not as bad as your pred says. I'm planning on just buying a bike and getting very fit.

May 20th, 2004, 19:40
Jonathan, worry not my friend. Just get a scooter/moped license and bomb it around in one of those babies. Cars in Japan are expensive, you HAVE to buy a parking permit if you own one and if its over 3 years old there's some kinda really expensive MOT you have to do, not worth the hassle.

I'm, pretty sure you can get a scooter license in a day, even in Japan.


May 20th, 2004, 19:50
Does anyone know about how moped licenses work?

If I get my CBT in the UK, will I be able to use it in Japan to ride 125cc mopeds? Or will I need a proper driving licence?

The CBT only takes a day, I think, but only allows me to ride bikes up to 150cc or something, which is fine for me! Except when it's raining.

May 20th, 2004, 19:50
Have you considered getting a motorbike? I don't think the test is any easier, but it might be just the ticket on your balmy island!

You can take intensive 1 week courses for bikes and cars, but i think it costs like a grand...


PS. If im placed near you, I'll give ya a lift, eh?! :D

May 20th, 2004, 20:34
Something reassuring I've noticed since this JET malarky is that an awful lot of us don't have driving licences. Considering the VAST majority of my friends can drive ie. I can think of 3 people who can't, I was wondering if there was an average profile of the JET candidate. Are JET people statistically less likely to have a driving licence than the average bloke on the street?
Anyway...it's nice to know that there are others out there! :D

May 20th, 2004, 21:02
For those of you interested in scooter/bike licenses there is a thread over on BD in Speak Your Mind re taking your test in Japan...

May 20th, 2004, 21:26

Thanks for all the advice guys, I'm really lucky to have all you guys to help me out and make me less stressed. You're like a really good masseur!

I don't know what I'll do yet, maybe I'll start to learn on a scooter when I get to Japan and have a bit more time and desire to learn! I cycle around eight miles a day at the moment so maybe biking it around the island won't be that much of a big deal. Only time will tell...

Aw crap, look at me troubling over the smallest of details when a lot of you have yet to receive your prefucture details. Sorry, my fingers are crossed for all of you and I hope you all get what you asked for! (sounds like christmas time! :wink: )



May 20th, 2004, 21:29
HEy Jon (and Dob)

u can get ur 50 cc scooter license in japan.u go to a 1/2 day workshop and then u get one...it is not hard or expensive--i found all this info on the govt. transport pages--sorry cant remember add. but i will try find out and post a link or u can just google it
jon if the trip is 30 min in car a 50 cc scooter would be fine u can zip around the island on it and when to go to mailand then use public transport
i am def...going to get a scooter and not a car(even though i have my car license) but the car seems such a hassle with parking licnes and road worthy stuff

so jon just go for that 50 cc scooter thing and it will all be good


May 20th, 2004, 22:06

That sounds Kell but would that suit people like me who have never been on a scooter in their lives? Does the workshop you mention start from scratch? I guess there isn't too much to riding a scooter if you can already ride a bicycle. Except for all the rules of the road etc!

Thanks again



May 20th, 2004, 22:30
Riding a little 50 is easy to pick up jon..you'll have the hang of it in no time but just remember to stay off the motorways.

when i was 17 me and my friend hired some bikes out in spain and proceeded to poodle along one of the busiest motorways in the country. when we reached a toll booth these spanish guards with guns stopped us and escorted down this steep mountainside to the middle of knowhere.

to make things funnier we then both ran out of fuel and waited 3 hours in the blistering sun before someone stopped and gave us a ride to the petrol station.

the sound of 'u crazy english' was ringing in my ears for days..

May 20th, 2004, 23:18
About scooters, yes it's easy to get, all you need to do is take the paper exam and if you pass that's it. No practical needed at all!

But there's a snag, you can take the test in English only if your driving school has one. If not, then you have to take the Japaenese version, which if your Japanese is up to scratch will be pretty damn hard.

May 21st, 2004, 02:30
hey jon. from what i understood from the site these workshops start from scratch any way if u want u can visit me one weekend and ill teach u.. it took me a day to learn and i had never driven a car or a bike

i think if the written section of the test is only in japanene u can bring a translater(j-friend ) along to help that is what i did in taiwan with my test...
so maybe it will work in japan

jon there will be a way