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weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 11:16
I asked a million questions about this during the application stage, but my brain is nagging at me once again. I put that I did not have a license/was not willing to drive on the application, then told them I'd be willing to at the interview... and now on the reply form, it says to choose 'willing to drive/no license/not willing to drive'... now that I'm in and I have the option to opt out, I'm getting all anxious about it again, but also obviously I don't want to seem wishy-washy since I've already changed my decision once.

I don't wanna be put in a super inaka placement with no car, but having to buy a car is like confusingly scary to me, especially since I'm from the US and I've never driven on the other side of the road haha... plus gas, insurance, maintenance, it just seems like a pain to me. I think that's where my anxiety comes from.

I guess what I'm asking is, if I put yes, will it be a pretty sure thing they'll have me drive? I've heard they often reserve it for non-North American kids since it's easier with them.

WHY AM I SO ANXIOUS ABOUT THIS.... ugh...

Fantasylife
March 31st, 2015, 11:28
I'm glad you asked this question. I also said I was willing to drive in the interview, although I haven't driven in years. I'm willing to do it in Japan if necessary, but like you I would prefer not to. Also, I'm concerned about the price of getting/maintaining a car. It was one of the reasons I sold the only car I ever owned. It was expensive as fcuk to keep a car in Chicago.

weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 11:33
In all seriousness just put down your preference. If you want to drive select willing to drive, if you don't want to drive select not willing to drive. You are already in, no reason to try to impress anymore fill it out with your preference and it will be ok.

See, I'm not worried about impressing or anything. I just don't want them to think I was lying or something and then end up getting booted out? Idk is that really irrational for me to think? I honestly was just super in between decisions.


I'm glad you asked this question. I also said I was willing to drive in the interview, although I haven't driven in years. I'm willing to do it in Japan if necessary, but like you I would prefer not to. Also, I'm concerned about the price of getting/maintaining a car. It was one of the reasons I sold the only car I ever owned. It was expensive as fcuk to keep a car in Chicago.

Exactly. I hear it's not quite as bad in Japan, but on the chance I'd want to recontract, then there's the whole getting a Japanese license thing... and if I do get placed in the countryside and decide to get a car, I can make that decision when I get there. It's something I'd like to decide though.

Bottom line, I don't want them to view this as something I lied on the application/in the interview about when it's really just me being anxious and indecisive.

weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 11:37
You won't be disqualified for marking your preference. If anything I think the JET Program wants people to be honest so there is less of a chance of them bailing on the program. Just stick with what you marked on your application as this is what they would reference back to if anything.

They marked it down when I said yes in the interview, too, though. Not sure if they changed it directly on my original application or what. :/

weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 12:04
If you mark yes I would say your chances of driving are likely and that means you getting placed somewhat remotely. I think that what they marked down was to tally information for them to consider when scoring you once you leave the room. I am guessing that there is no appendixes made to your actual application.

It was at the very beginning of the interview when they asked about my email, address, phone number, citizenship status, license, health record... general stuff. I think one of the coordinators mentioned they do that to make sure they have the most up-to-date info on you.

I've heard they don't use that info for scoring anyway, and I really hope that's true because then I'd feel really guilty and paranoid about changing my mind and it leading to them thinking I lied.

Fantasylife
March 31st, 2015, 12:09
Hopefully one of the coordinators can weigh in on this.

miamicoordinator
March 31st, 2015, 12:15
I think that the reply forms were not updated is the thing. Last year, the applicatation form had the question if an applicant had a license, and if so, if they were willing to drive. This caused a lot of confusion last year. This year tokyo changed the wording to do you have a license, yes or no. They were not interested in peoples preferences this year.

Let me be clear, if you do not want to drive, 1 of 2 things can happen.

1) you are lucky enough to get a non driving placement.

2) you are put in a place where you have to drive anyway, and you have to suck it up, or you decline your position on jet. you cannot ask to go to a different placement after your assignment comes in.

Tokyo will most likely follow what is on your original applicatioj anyway since they have had those documents in their posession for a couple of months already.

weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 12:30
I think that the reply forms were not updated is the thing. Last year, the applicatation form had the question if an applicant had a license, and if so, if they were willing to drive. This caused a lot of confusion last year. This year tokyo changed the wording to do you have a license, yes or no. They were not interested in peoples preferences this year.

Let me be clear, if you do not want to drive, 1 of 2 things can happen.

1) you are lucky enough to get a non driving placement.

2) you are put in a place where you have to drive anyway, and you have to suck it up, or you decline your position on jet. you cannot ask to go to a different placement after your assignment comes in.

Tokyo will most likely follow what is on your original applicatioj anyway since they have had those documents in their posession for a couple of months already.

I had originally put 'no' for the license question on my application, then at my interview they asked if I was willing to drive and if I had a valid license, which I answered 'yes' to both. Would it be that updated information from the interview that Tokyo received then?

If I end up having to drive, that's fine and I can manage. I just want to be sure that me putting 'not willing' on my reply form doesn't end up having an impact in my standing due to 'stating false information' - I would assume they deal with peoples' preferences changing for that stuff all the time though, right? And obviously those preferences aren't always accommodated.

Thanks a ton for your weigh-in as always MC.

miamicoordinator
March 31st, 2015, 12:35
I had originally put 'no' for the license question on my application, then at my interview they asked if I was willing to drive and if I had a valid license, which I answered 'yes' to both. Would it be that information from the updated interview that Tokyo received then?

If I end up having to drive, that's fine and I can manage. I just want to be sure that me putting 'not willing' on my reply form doesn't end up having an impact in my standing due to 'stating false information' - I would assume they deal with peoples' preferences changing for that stuff all the time though, right? And obviously those preferences aren't always accommodated.

Thanks a ton for your weigh-in as always MC.

yes, exactly. Tokyo sees the driving issues as secondary. They are mostly focused on whether or not you have a license or not. They will accomodate you driving preference just as much as they will accomodate your placement requests(and we know how often that happens!)

You most likely wont know about driving until your pred contacts you which is normally sometime in mid june for the most part.

weepinbell
March 31st, 2015, 12:39
yes, exactly. Tokyo sees the driving issues as secondary. They are mostly focused on whether or not you have a license or not. They will accomodate you driving preference just as much as they will accomodate your placement requests(and we know how often that happens!)

You most likely wont know about driving until your pred contacts you which is normally sometime in mid june for the most part.

Perfect. So then I guess me literally switching my driving preference 3 different times isn't as big an issue as I feared lol - SO indecisive about this, but I guess it's out of my hands anyway. As long as it has no real impact on me, I just figure it wouldn't hurt to mark it as 'not willing' at this point, and just see what happens. Thanks so much!

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 2nd, 2015, 03:26
When we submitted everything to Tokyo after the interview we indicated whether or not you had a license. If you had originally marked "No" on your application but then told people in your interview "Yes" then the JET Program Coordinator in your area should have updated it to a "Yes" on the official form sent to Tokyo (people could get their license in between the time that they apply and their interview, after all). So it is likely that you are marked for "Yes" as capable of driving.

MikeCarter
April 2nd, 2015, 03:32
I think that the reply forms were not updated is the thing. Last year, the applicatation form had the question if an applicant had a license, and if so, if they were willing to drive. This caused a lot of confusion last year. This year tokyo changed the wording to do you have a license, yes or no. They were not interested in peoples preferences this year.

Let me be clear, if you do not want to drive, 1 of 2 things can happen.

1) you are lucky enough to get a non driving placement.

2) you are put in a place where you have to drive anyway, and you have to suck it up, or you decline your position on jet. you cannot ask to go to a different placement after your assignment comes in.

Tokyo will most likely follow what is on your original applicatioj anyway since they have had those documents in their posession for a couple of months already.

The Canadian application specifically asked if you have a license AND are willing to drive in Japan, so maybe it was just the American application that changed.

weepinbell
April 2nd, 2015, 03:40
When we submitted everything to Tokyo after the interview we indicated whether or not you had a license. If you had originally marked "No" on your application but then told people in your interview "Yes" then the JET Program Coordinator in your area should have updated it to a "Yes" on the official form sent to Tokyo (people could get their license in between the time that they apply and their interview, after all). So it is likely that you are marked for "Yes" as capable of driving.

That's what I assumed! I guess I'm just confused why I have the option again if Tokyo already knows I have a license. It's fine with me and if they place me somewhere I need to drive I'm prepared, but hey, if I have the option of putting 'not willing', I figure I might as well. Do you have any idea if any of that is even taken into account though? I'm sure it's not a primary thing they need to take note of during placement as long as the person HAS a license, but I'm just wondering if the process might be something like 'oh hey, this person doesn't want to drive and there happens to be a non-driving location' and submits them there or something. I guess I'm just curious why that option is on the reply form at all.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 2nd, 2015, 08:11
I think it's left on the Reply Form for people who received their driver's license between when they applied and now. As for how Tokyo does it, honestly we have no clue. My guess is that they have a list of things that COs request in an ALT - Teaching certified, high Japanese ability, has driver's license, etc. - and that you've either got a Yes or a No in those categories. They then use that when they're matching up people with COs. If I were Tokyo I wouldn't take into account people's willingness to drive or not to drive - either you can or you can't. In the past it used to be that they asked "Do you have a license?" and "Are you willing to drive in Japan?" but they've slimmed that down to just "Do you have a license?" so my guess is that they're removing the willingness factor. As for why it's left on the Canadian application, it's probably because they didn't change it. We can send Tokyo as much information as we want; whether or not they use it is another thing.

MaxLC
April 2nd, 2015, 08:18
Roughly what % of placements require driving and of those are you required to get the car yourself/are they provided? Also I heard some people have their petrol paid for them, is this common for JET drivers?

Moso
April 2nd, 2015, 09:16
I don't wanna be put in a super inaka placement with no car, but having to buy a car is like confusingly scary to me, especially since I'm from the US and I've never driven on the other side of the road haha... plus gas, insurance, maintenance, it just seems like a pain to me. I think that's where my anxiety comes from.

I guess what I'm asking is, if I put yes, will it be a pretty sure thing they'll have me drive? I've heard they often reserve it for non-North American kids since it's easier with them.

My prefecture is mostly American JETs and I don't know anyone who doesn't drive. (Aside from myself, and believe me if I physically had a license I would!) Idk where you got the idea they'd rather give a driving placement to a non-American JET? Haha? Anyway I've not heard anyone having trouble with changing to the other side of the road. Also, most people rent a car rather than buy one.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 10:11
Driving opens the country up to you. If it's something to do with fear or not being a good driver, remember that speed limits in Japan are horribly low, and the chances of an injury collision are super slim. If it's a money thing, try to offset costs in your head. Buses and trains cost money too. Taxis cost a lot. Yeah, you'll spend money to drive, but it comes with tons of benefits like being able to go anywhere you want and being able to come and go as you please. You might find yourself in a place where the train comes once an hour, or even less frequently than that... or like me, a place where there is no train. So I suggest keeping it in the back of your head that driving might enrich your experience, rather than be a burden.

Virgil
April 2nd, 2015, 10:19
My prefecture has the highest accident rate in the country!

With that said, I am SO happy I live in an area where I don't have to drive. As someone who has HAD to drive for more than 10 years (Texas, if you don't know) it is such a relief to just get on a train and let it take me where I need to be. Want to go drinking downtown? No problem, I can get drunk and take a train. In my hometown I would be afraid of taking a taxi (stabbings, getting robbed etc.) I don't need to go jogging because I walk everywhere. I absolutely love having public transit as an option. I might eventually get a motorbike, but for now I'm content. OK, I'm done gushing about passenger trains. They're fucking great. Ok, now I'm done.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 10:26
With that said, I am SO happy I live in an area where I don't have to drive.

100%. There are definitely pros and cons for either. My hometown is suburban, and without a car, I couldn't even go buy milk or a beer.

With the blood-alcohol max being zero in Japan, it is great to live within walking distance of things. Having to drive everywhere certainly isn't ideal. I had to stay sober at a drinking party in my honor because I had to drive back to my village and work the next morning. However, having the option to hop in the car and go wherever whenever is very nice.

greyjoy
April 2nd, 2015, 10:40
Afraid of getting stabbed or robbed in a taxi? Did you live in Caracas, Texas?

Lorenzo
April 2nd, 2015, 10:42
Sorry guys, to be clear - if I've put down that I can't drive/don't have a license (which I don't), is there any chance of me getting placed in a location that requires a car? It'd be real killer if I have to walk 10 miles to my school every day.

Ananasboat
April 2nd, 2015, 10:43
Perhaps you wouldn't NEED a car to get to schools, but to get around in life in general you might need it. I live in a pretty inconvenient place without a car, and it kind of blows.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 10:47
I've known people in driving placements who didn't drive. They were picked up and dropped off by someone from the board of education. One of the disadvantages was that they were not free to stay late (which you may actually end up wanting to do) or choose your own time to wake up. One person I know was picked up promptly at 7:30 AM and arrived at work around 7:50, despite not being expected to arrive until 8:30. If you get a placement with a long commute, but still don't want to drive, they will likely try to accommodate you.

I can't comment on the likelihood of you being placed somewhere like that. My comments are for your information, in case you do have that happen.

Lorenzo
April 2nd, 2015, 10:51
Right, that makes sense, thanks. Here's hoping I'm not that unlucky.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 10:56
For the record, they didn't hate life. Townspeople helped a lot, and totally didn't mind being used for rides. Generally, the population and density are inversely related to how much the people want to know and help you. If you're somewhere remote, your neighbors will likely bring you persimmons and take you places.

Virgil
April 2nd, 2015, 11:02
For the record, they didn't hate life. Townspeople helped a lot, and totally didn't mind being used for rides. Generally, the population and density are inversely related to how much the people want to know and help you. If you're somewhere remote, your neighbors will likely bring you persimmons and take you places.

Yeah, this is actually something I miss out on. The locals are pretty used to foreigners around here, and I don't have a lot of strangers approaching me just to chat. I do get the awkward stares though.

weepinbell
April 2nd, 2015, 11:09
Thanks guys, it's nice to get some insight. I'm definitely putting 'not willing' on my reply form, but since Tokyo knows I have a license/that option implies I have a license, I'm obviously gonna be open to the possibility. Having to commute 30min to work in the Chicago suburbs right now is a nightmare for me. I honestly prefer taking public transportation and that's been something I've known about myself for a loooong time. If I end with a shitty public transportation location, yeah.. I'll probably cave. But if I say I'm willing and end up with a car placement, I'll prob kick myself in the face for not being honest with myself, ya know... I guess I would ideally like the option of trying out public transportation/seeing if I get a good placement for it before committing to a car.

greyjoy
April 2nd, 2015, 11:26
Lorenzo, why don't you have a license? Are you entirely unwilling to learn how to drive?

Lorenzo
April 2nd, 2015, 12:15
No, I can't afford it, and there was little point while at University. I'll learn eventually.

greyjoy
April 2nd, 2015, 12:27
I don't know how much it costs to just take a course and get a license where you are now. I don't think it would cost more than $100 or so, and maybe considerably less than that(I realize you mean you couldn't afford to own a car, I'm just noting for reference). According to knowledgable people at this very website, getting a license in japan without one in your home country costs approximately 300000¥. If you think there's even a chance you'd find yourself wanting to drive in your placement, get your license now.

Lorenzo
April 2nd, 2015, 12:37
Uh, maybe in the US it only costs $100, but it costs far, far more than that to get your license in the UK. All in all it'd cost several hundred pounds, probably over half a grand - and I might not even pass first time. I don't have that kind of money, especially not now that I'm going to Japan. I also don't have the time since I'm finishing up my degree.

webstaa
April 2nd, 2015, 12:50
Uh, maybe in the US it only costs $100, but it costs far, far more than that to get your license in the UK. All in all it'd cost several hundred pounds, probably over half a grand - and I might not even pass first time. I don't have that kind of money, especially not now that I'm going to Japan. I also don't have the time since I'm finishing up my degree.

At any rate, it's MUCH cheaper to get your home license first - probably by an order of magnitude. Although AFAIK your SOL as far as transferring licenses at this point. You have to have had your license for 6 months to get it converted.

If you don't have a license now, there isn't much you can do about it - I hope you marked it correctly on the application/reply form. If you are placed somewhere that requires a car, your CO or schools should work something out.

Moso
April 2nd, 2015, 13:06
Lorenzo, why don't you have a license? Are you entirely unwilling to learn how to drive?
In many countries it's nothing abnormal not to know how to drive.........

Lorenzo
April 2nd, 2015, 13:15
I appreciate the input, but there wasn't anything I was going to do about it, though, because as I've said, I can't drive and I can't afford to learn. My question was whether or not you can still get placed in a driving-only area without a license, which Bif kindly answered. Obviously I marked it correctly, because I don't drive.

word
April 2nd, 2015, 13:41
Roughly what % of placements require driving and of those are you required to get the car yourself/are they provided? Also I heard some people have their petrol paid for them, is this common for JET drivers?In my last school, I received a transportation subsidy from my visit school. It was not substantial, but it was nice and quite fair. You almost certainly won't get your "petrol paid for" you, but you may receive some sort of subsidy if your placement requires a long commute. I can't speak for percentages. ESID, still, unfortunately.

I've not known anyone in my prefecture whose car was provided by the BoE. I would say that it's less common. Even if this was an option, I probably wouldn't care much for it, as I would assume there would be pretty severe restrictions on usage (only to work functions, mileage limits, that sorta stuff).


Also, most people rent a car rather than buy one.Speak for your own Japan. I only know two people who rent/lease vehicles in my prefecture, and they're both paying significantly more per year than MG and I paid for our cars (and ours are pretty decent vehicles with low kms on the clock; we should be able to sell them easily when we leave). It depends on what sort of vehicle you want, how much you can pay, and when, and there are definitely some advantages to leasing (no worries about taxes, tire changes free and done for you, possibly lower maintenance costs), but ownership works best for me and most folks I know.


Driving opens the country up to you. If it's something to do with fear or not being a good driver, remember that speed limits in Japan are horribly low, and the chances of an injury collision are super slim. If it's a money thing, try to offset costs in your head. Buses and trains cost money too. Taxis cost a lot. Yeah, you'll spend money to drive, but it comes with tons of benefits like being able to go anywhere you want and being able to come and go as you please. You might find yourself in a place where the train comes once an hour, or even less frequently than that... or like me, a place where there is no train. So I suggest keeping it in the back of your head that driving might enrich your experience, rather than be a burden.word


Afraid of getting stabbed or robbed in a taxi? Did you live in Caracas, Texas?Yeah, that confused me, too. I've lived in Texas my whole life and have never heard of anyone having any of those sorts of issues with taxis. I'm not saying it's never happened, but wtaf.


For the record, they didn't hate life. Townspeople helped a lot, and totally didn't mind being used for rides. Generally, the population and density are inversely related to how much the people want to know and help you. If you're somewhere remote, your neighbors will likely bring you persimmons and take you places.Sometimes, though, the nice people who drive you around do kinda end up viewing you as an rather incapable doofus and a mild burden, so keep that in mind if you plan on depending upon the kindness of others for transportation on a constant basis.


At any rate, it's MUCH cheaper to get your home license first - probably by an order of magnitude. Although AFAIK your SOL as far as transferring licenses at this point. You have to have had your license for 6 months to get it converted.Nah, it's only 90 days, actually, although there may be some "trial license" thing that the UK has going on that I'm not aware of that will complicate matters.

So, those of you who are in the US, though... GET YOUR LICENSE NOW. You only have until about the end of this month, maybe sooner.


In many countries it's nothing abnormal not to know how to drive.........True, but in the US, if you're 20+ years old and can't drive, people will sometimes judge you to be incapable or incompetent somehow. Both views are legitimate in different ways. I'm very sympathetic to folks from the UK or Japan, for example, where licensing is expensive and complicated. I view US citizens who haven't bothered to learn to drive and get licensed in the same manner as I view illiterate people or people who don't know how to use a microwave.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 14:01
Sometimes, though, the nice people who drive you around do kinda end up viewing you as an rather incapable doofus and a mild burden, so keep that in mind if you plan on depending upon the kindness of others for transportation on a constant basis.


Word.

vaterross
April 2nd, 2015, 15:03
So, those of you who are in the US, though... GET YOUR LICENSE NOW. You only have until about the end of this month, maybe sooner.


Only until the end of the month? I was planning on getting a license in July and using one of those AAA foreign driving permits.

If US JETs need them by this month that could be a problem for me as I am on the other side of the world until July...

Virgil
April 2nd, 2015, 15:06
You're Texas might not be my Texas. I was exaggerating slightly.

Still, the area I chose to live in before moving was very dangerous. It was a really small town with some of the most gang activity anywhere I've ever lived. I could have lived in my hometown which was only 30 minutes away, but the oil field boom drove up the rent prices so high I wasn't willing to pay it. So I basically lived in the ghetto, where I'd hear nightly gunshots. In the city you would at least have a police force to speak of. This place... the police force was just another thug group.

word
April 2nd, 2015, 15:08
Only until the end of the month? I was planning on getting a license in July and using one of those AAA foreign driving permits.

If US JETs need them by this month that could be a problem for me as I am on the other side of the world until July...
If you're only planning on staying one year, you'll be just fine.

If you're planning on staying longer than one year, you will be ineligible to convert your license to a Japanese license if you held your US license for less than 90 days (while still residing in the country). You'll have to go through the Japanese licensing procedure from the beginning.

mothy
April 2nd, 2015, 16:40
This place... the police force was just another thug group.

So just like everywhere in america.

Virgil
April 2nd, 2015, 16:44
Word

Ini
April 2nd, 2015, 17:28
all placements require a car as there are very few places on earth and none in japan where having a car doesn't vastly improve your quality of life

word
April 2nd, 2015, 17:43
all placements require a car as there are very few places on earth and none in japan where having a car doesn't vastly improve your quality of life

This is true, but a lot of people seem to enjoy having a sh*tty life, as indicated by the popularity of alarmingly dumb ideas like avoiding alcohol or following "paleo" diet plans.

BifCarbet
April 2nd, 2015, 17:48
alarmingly dumb ideas like avoiding alcohol

Nobody actually does that though... right?

AltDimension
April 2nd, 2015, 18:01
Uh, maybe in the US it only costs $100, but it costs far, far more than that to get your license in the UK. All in all it'd cost several hundred pounds, probably over half a grand - and I might not even pass first time. I don't have that kind of money, especially not now that I'm going to Japan. I also don't have the time since I'm finishing up my degree.

Getting a license in the UK is an expensive pain in the ass. Took me 3 tests and cost me at least a grand.

Bring on the self driving cars!

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 3rd, 2015, 02:10
If you're only planning on staying one year, you'll be just fine.

If you're planning on staying longer than one year, you will be ineligible to convert your license to a Japanese license if you held your US license for less than 90 days (while still residing in the country). You'll have to go through the Japanese licensing procedure from the beginning.

This is correct. You have until the end of the month to get your US driver's license if you don't want to spend the $2,000-$3,000 and half your vacation days to get a driver's license in Japan for your 2nd+ year.

acpc2203
April 3rd, 2015, 07:37
all placements require a car as there are very few places on earth and none in japan where having a car doesn't vastly improve your quality of life
Where do all these no license/car people come from? I can sort of see if you spent your whole life in NYC or another huge city where having a car isn't a huge inconvenience, but even in that case you will be screwed if you want to travel anywhere beyond cities with great public transit systems.

Lorenzo
April 3rd, 2015, 07:56
Never needed one mate. It's really not uncommon in the UK, at least at my age.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 08:01
you dont need a phone, TV, computer, bed, sofa, etc but it improves your quality of life by having one....

Lorenzo
April 3rd, 2015, 08:12
It's never been worth it in my case. Eventually it will, and then I'll get a car. But as a student it was pointless.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 08:14
Kids today with their misguided sense of priorities. When I was a lad everyone got a car at 17.......

RainbowSheep
April 3rd, 2015, 08:17
There was no way I could afford to get a car when I was a teenager.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 08:25
how ghastly

frayedflower
April 3rd, 2015, 08:36
This is correct. You have until the end of the month to get your US driver's license if you don't want to spend the $2,000-$3,000 and half your vacation days to get a driver's license in Japan for your 2nd+ year.

Wait, seriously? Everything I kept reading made it sound like I'd need to retake my road test in a year even if I've had my license for awhile - is this not the case? (Cause that'd be pretty awesome.)

I've had a license for years, but due to a lot of reasons I've either been unable to get a car, or by the time I could there was just no reason for it. I'm not daunted at the prospect of driving in Japan if it comes down to it though. I picked it up quickly enough the first time, and the idea of being able to go where I want when I want is pretty awesome.

webstaa
April 3rd, 2015, 08:43
Wait, seriously? Everything I kept reading made it sound like I'd need to retake my road test in a year even if I've had my license for awhile - is this not the case? (Cause that'd be pretty awesome.)

I've had a license for years, but due to a lot of reasons I've either been unable to get a car, or by the time I could there was just no reason for it. I'm not daunted at the prospect of driving in Japan if it comes down to it though. I picked it up quickly enough the first time, and the idea of being able to go where I want when I want is pretty awesome.

There is a test, both written (10 T/F Questions) and a practical to get your American license transferred. Generally costs around $60 to get through the written stage. Practicals cost something like $50 every attempt. Some other countries, like the UK, just have to fill out a form and show their original license and they'll receive a Japanese version. It has to do with the various driving standards in the US (every state has different rules) vs the country-wide standards and similar driving culture AFAIK. The practical has something like a 35% pass rate, so it isn't uncommon to take it more than once. Although if you're taking it 5-7 times you'll probably have deeper issues. There's always horror stories when you go of some old Chinese guy on his 12th attempt etc. As always, there's a whole thread of advice and stories about it here (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/threads/11107-How-to-Kick-the-Japanese-Driver-s-License-Test-in-the-Face-on-Your-First-Try).

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 3rd, 2015, 08:51
Everything webstaa said is correct. I think in total it costs around $300 and 1~2 days of vacation during your spring break first year to get your Japanese driver's license if you already have a US license.

frayedflower
April 3rd, 2015, 09:48
Ah, okay - so it's what I originally thought then, no big. Thanks! :) Sorry, I wondered the way people were talking if something had changed!

vaterross
April 3rd, 2015, 09:51
Where do all these no license/car people come from? I can sort of see if you spent your whole life in NYC or another huge city where having a car isn't a huge inconvenience, but even in that case you will be screwed if you want to travel anywhere beyond cities with great public transit systems.

No license person chiming in, I'm from the suburban south so not exactly a great place for public transportation. I got around using my bicycle and a mix of the two bus lines in the city and the odd cab. Travel outside the city was done with carpooling, buses, and planes. My coastal city back home is nice and flat and warm year round and once you get used to riding in traffic and learning all the neighborhood shortcuts, it isn't that bad. The last two years I've been in urban Korea where I use the stupid cheap and efficient public transport and the odd taxi.

I have very little interest in owning or driving cars, though I'm not entirely opposed to the concept. For one thing, cars are extremely expensive with a TCO of something like $700 a month. I actually really enjoy riding my bike and the mild climate, lack of a suit wearing job and dependents made it possible back home. I guess you could say I'm sort of a lifestyle cyclist. I did a study abroad in Copenhagen largely due to the amazing cycling culture there.

Is it inconvenient? sometimes. But my enjoyment of cycling and the savings make it worth it for me. And no, I'm not one of the spandex warriors fighting against "motorists." ;)

word
April 3rd, 2015, 10:15
We often have this sort of discussion here, and people inevitably end up talking past one another.

vater, I (and the pro-driving crowd) aren't saying that owning a car is cheap. I'm not saying that owning a car is essential for everyone. I am saying that knowing how to operate a motor vehicle (and being able to do so legally) is an essential skill for adults. Now, if you're from the UK or Japan or some other horrid place where getting licensed costs a great deal of money, I'm sympathetic--I grew up quite poor and would never have been able to get a license if it cost $3000 USD or something. In the US, though, getting a driver's license is cheap and easy. Every adult citizen of the US should learn to operate a motor vehicle, just as they ought to learn to swim, learn to perform CPR, learn to use an iron, learn to read, etc. It is a life skill, and--certainly in the US--a relatively essential one at that. It might save your life, or the life of someone you love one day. It will certainly open doors that might otherwise be closed.

The non-drivers often toss out the "it's just not necessary" argument... I strongly disagree with that assessment. Being able to legally operate a motor vehicle is a skill that drastically improves one's marketability and utility, allowing one to more effectively and meaningfully contribute to, interact with, and benefit from one's family, community, and society. Having a license matters, and it is not unfair for me, CLAIR, or anyone else to, when comparing two otherwise nearly identical candidates, judge the candidate who possesses the ability to legally operate a motor vehicle as a superior choice to the candidate who does not.

Virgil
April 3rd, 2015, 10:15
Yeah, I am so burned out of owning a vehicle. I had a couple of cars, and 3 motorcycles that I maintained my self (they kind of just fall into my lap.) It was a hobby sure, but I would get bored with working on them and then it would become real work. It's so nice to not have to worry about any of that nonsense. I guess that's what it's like for people with enough money to pay mechanics to fix their vehicles.

I once tried bicycling in my hometown and almost died. I was safe. I followed all the rules. The motorists just couldn't wrap their head around it.

greyjoy
April 3rd, 2015, 10:27
In many countries it's nothing abnormal not to know how to drive.........

I'm well aware of this, and my question didn't have any critical subtext. I did forget he was from the UK, which I know has a higher licensing cost.

I drove everywhere back home, but couldn't wait to get rid of my car. Driving is one of the most enjoyable things in the modern world. Driving with other cars on the road, most of them being piloted by people barely capable of operating their car radios, let alone the cars themselves, is routinely nightmarish. It is also much more expensive to own a car than to use public transit.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 11:01
In many countries it's nothing abnormal not to know how to drive.........

In many countries its nothing abnormal to stone people to death......

Lorenzo
April 3rd, 2015, 11:05
Exactly. Ini has hit the nail on the head. It's all about perspective - what's necessary and accessible for one person is not for another.

vaterross
April 3rd, 2015, 11:26
Word, if I understood you correctly, you are saying something like it is irresponsible to not have a license in the developed world? Driving as a form of civic engagement is an interesting concept, but I'm not certain it's as universal as you suggest. Is motor vehicle licensure a good and responsible thing for the average American? Yes. For my particular brand of life? Not necessarily.

It definitely depends on what sort of lifestyle you want, where you live and the like as to the importance of car access. Thus far I have made choices that have enabled me to avoid cars. I have taken certain jobs and lived in certain places to maintain my car free lifestyle yet I don't feel hamstrung or irresponsible because of it. Back home the primary reason for avoidance was cost, insurance is expensive! I do not expect this to continue for ever (hell, I applied to heavily rural JET), and accept that it places certain limitations on my ability to do things. Despite these limitations, I feel that the car-free lifestyle has been a net positive in my life.

I suppose I am a bit wary of universalizing motor vehicle licensure but I certainly agree that it is generally a good thing for most people, just not all people. I recognize that Word's opinion is certainly the common one back home, maybe I just get some sort of childish glee from being the exception? Perhaps part of a larger pattern of responsibility avoidance?

Sorry for taking this off topic and rehashing what Word has already mentioned is an old subject.

greyjoy
April 3rd, 2015, 11:49
I wouldn't necessarily argue that the license itself is necessary, over just having the ability to drive, although the one is usually contingent on the other. There are places in the US where it's not just unnecessary to own a car, it's an active hinderance under a certain income level. And if you don't own a car, and you live in one of these places, there's some reason to let your license expire. But since it doubles as the prevailing form of ID in the country, and costs barely any more to maintain than a non driving ID, I don't think it's a wise choice not to just get one and keep it even if you drive once every four years.

word
April 3rd, 2015, 12:07
Word, if I understood you correctly, you are saying something like it is irresponsible to not have a license in the developed world?I don't know that I'd go so far as to use the word "irresponsible," but, essentially... yes.

Your "lifestyle choice" argument could be applied to any other learned skill that our society considers essential.

"Reading as a form of civic engagement is an interesting concept, but I'm not certain it's universally necessary. Is being able to read a good and responsible thing for the average American? Yes. For my particular brand of life? Not necessarily.

"It definitely depends on what sort of lifestyle you want, where you live and the like as to the importance of being able to read. Thus far I have made choices that have enabled me to avoid reading I have taken jobs and lived in certain places to maintain my illiterate lifetyle yet I don't feel hamstrung or irresponsible because of it. Back home the primary reason for avoidance was cost--school costs far too much time and money! I don not expect this to continue forever (hell, I applied to be a teacher), and accept that it places certain limitations on my ability to do things. Despite these limitations, I feel that the illiterate lifestyle has been a net positive in my life.

"I suppose I am a bit wary of universal education to foster reading skills, but I certainly agree that it is generally a good thing for most people, just not all people."

See? It's easy to laugh about this and say, "Oh, but reading objectively improves your life; being able to read offers opportunities and experiences that are easily quantifiable and quite obviously improve one's life." In my opinion, the exact same thing could be said about acquiring a driver's license. Please note that I'm not saying that owning a car is essential in any way, merely that knowing how to operate one (and being legally capable of doing so) is.

BifCarbet
April 3rd, 2015, 12:51
For one thing, cars are extremely expensive with a TCO of something like $700 a month.

You know this is not the case in Japan, right? Your total cost would be closer to $700 a year than $700 a month.

Virgil
April 3rd, 2015, 14:02
You know this is not the case in Japan, right? Your total cost would be closer to $700 a year than $700 a month.
Pretty sure they were factoring the cost of gas/petrol into that figure.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 15:04
I wish my TCO was 700 dollars a year....

word
April 3rd, 2015, 16:06
I wish my TCO was 700 dollars a year....
Same here. :/

I love having a good vehicle but it's definitely a luxury that I pay for.

BifCarbet
April 3rd, 2015, 16:12
Yeah, I just meant closer to $700 than $8400 per year. Even with gas, I think the annual TCO in Japan can be kept under $4550. Maybe not, but I think 70,000 yen a month is outrageous.

vaterross
April 3rd, 2015, 16:48
I was using AAA's estimate for 2014 in the US seen here (https://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Your-Driving-Costs-2014.pdf). (Actually, I may have used the 2013 numbers divided by twelve and rounded for my initial estimate of $700...) Also, I should really be better about dropping acronyms, TCO = Total Cost of Ownership

AAA suggests that the 2014 TCO ranges from $7,930 (small sedan) to $12,176 (large sedan). Obviously these can fluctuate quite a bit with the cost of gas.

Zolrak 22
April 3rd, 2015, 19:05
Think of it this way, if there was a natural disaster and you had to escape the city.

Would you rather be able to ride a vehicle (Even if stolen or whatever) or would you ride a bicycle?

Same with the other skills such a reading and etc, in an emergency they may save your life.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 19:41
Hate to be a Debbie downer but speaking from experience unless you buy a large off-roader a car won't help you in a disaster as the roads will all be fucked.

Zolrak 22
April 3rd, 2015, 19:44
unless you buy a large off-roader

Is there any other kind?

Ananasboat
April 3rd, 2015, 19:46
Is there any other kind?
There's a lady in my town who drives a hummer.

word
April 3rd, 2015, 20:01
There's a lady in my town who drives a hummer.

Impressive, considering she's paying anywhere from 7.6-11.1man/year in taxes alone (unless it's an H3, then it'll be *slightly* cheaper).

Ananasboat
April 3rd, 2015, 20:03
Don't know the model. Just know that she's taking up most of the tiny roads she drives on. It's a pleasure when I see her.

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 20:42
Is there any other kind?

Sexy cars that snap knicker elastic at 20 paces.

weepinbell
April 3rd, 2015, 22:42
Can you just apply for your IDP whenever, wherever, or is it a good idea to just get it before leaving? Even if I'm not driving at first, I do wanna be prepared if I change my mind - I've heard getting your IDP is super easy anyway, right? Just wondering if it's something I have to do in the states.

If there is a deadly tsunami coming my way and I'm carless I guess I'm just gonna have to hope there's a crazy hummer lady to hitch a ride with...

Ini
April 3rd, 2015, 22:50
You need to get it in your home country.

word
April 3rd, 2015, 22:53
Can you just apply for your IDP whenever, wherever, or is it a good idea to just get it before leaving? Even if I'm not driving at first, I do wanna be prepared if I change my mind - I've heard getting your IDP is super easy anyway, right? Just wondering if it's something I have to do in the states. If you're from the US, you do it at the local Triple A. It costs $15 and isn't a matter of "applying;" you just pay the fee and you get the license. Get it post-dated for the date that you'll actually land in Japan--maybe a day or two after. It's valid for exactly one year--either one year after it was issued (hence the post-date) or one year from the date upon which you land in Japan; whichever comes FIRST. There is no way to get away with more than one year from your IDP. I personally recommend that you drive on your IDP for as long as possible--speeding tickets and moving violations don't seem to transfer from your IDP to your J-license, so you might as well make the most of this fact.

If you happen to be out of the US, it is actually possible to get it by mail.

If you happen to have a motorcycle license, make sure they stamp your license appropriately. It is technically illegal to operate a motorbike--even under 50cc--in Japan with an IDP unless you have the motorcycle endorsement stamped.

BifCarbet
April 3rd, 2015, 23:42
Hate to be a Debbie downer but speaking from experience unless you buy a large off-roader a car won't help you in a disaster as the roads will all be fucked.

I had a different experience.

SailorZorro
April 4th, 2015, 04:29
I agree with word that having a license doesn't equal owning a car (speaking of the US only). If you are ridding or out with someone and they begin to have a medical emergency, it would be nice if you could drive the vehicle to get them help. I have been in this situation. And if you hold any notions that your driving friends don't occasionally hold animosity towards you because you can't take your turn driving when you all go out or on road trips, then you're delusional. Everyone who is on the road everyday does not need to be, but you should be able to pull your weight as an adult.
Also, we discovered last year that the passport office is funny about the types of identification they will accept (no learner's permit with all your info, but yes to a student id with no info).

webstaa
April 6th, 2015, 09:01
If you're from the US, you do it at the local Triple A. It costs $15 and isn't a matter of "applying;" you just pay the fee and you get the license. Get it post-dated for the date that you'll actually land in Japan--maybe a day or two after. It's valid for exactly one year--either one year after it was issued (hence the post-date) or one year from the date upon which you land in Japan; whichever comes FIRST. There is no way to get away with more than one year from your IDP. I personally recommend that you drive on your IDP for as long as possible--speeding tickets and moving violations don't seem to transfer from your IDP to your J-license, so you might as well make the most of this fact.

If you happen to be out of the US, it is actually possible to get it by mail.

If you happen to have a motorcycle license, make sure they stamp your license appropriately. It is technically illegal to operate a motorbike--even under 50cc--in Japan with an IDP unless you have the motorcycle endorsement stamped.

In summary, get you IDP dated the day you arrive in the country. And don't do anything that could get you a ticket.

Although if you have tickets on your IDP, your license center might make it a bit hard on you (asking why you did what you did over and over) when you get your license changed, similarly if you have any major violations on your home country license.

Just make sure you get your Japanese license before your one year is up. Otherwise you'll have issues getting to the license center, as there tends to only be one per prefecture that does license transfers, although that probably depends on what prefecture you're in.

word
April 6th, 2015, 11:12
Don't tell them/give them your driving history from your home country. Tell them that you've nevar evar had a moving violation or been involved in an accident evar. Also, when they ask about your driver's education, talk it up. Make it sound long, difficult, and thorough and involved extremely strict training and testing.