Driving in Japan

It’s amazing how much your driving habits can change. I’ve been living in Japan for three years now. The effect Japan has had on my driving skills is quite significant. When i returned to Australia for a holiday it was actually daunting to drive like an Australian again. Here’s why.


In Japan the speed limit on most roads is 40 km/hr. On highways it’s 80 km/hr. On some of the back ways it’s 30 km/hr. Compared to Australia’s 60 110 and 50 respectively it’s quite a difference. While going 60 in Australia feels painfully slow going the same speed in Japan feels like I’m driving recklessly fast. Although this isn’t just because others are going slower. It’s also to do with another difference.

Road Width

Japanese road widths are terrifyingly narrow. Some roads you have to pull over to let people pass. The average road does allow two cars to pass but both parties always slow to a crawl just to make sure they squeeze through. There are much wider roads that you can cruise down comfortably but in day to day driving you are far more likely to face two way streets that back in Australia you’d assume are one way.

Drink Driving

Zero tolerance in Japan. I haven’t had a beer and driven for a long time. Pros; The roads are safe. Don’t have to worry about shitfaced drivers crashing into you. A superior public transportation system to factor in that people want to get drunk. Con; coming around for a drink just doesn’t happen unless it’s a cuppa.

People randomly stopping suddenly

OK this is just a pet peeve. There aren’t really any places to pull over so if you want to make a stop you’re going to have to stop in the road. Thus no one ever seems to think twice about stopped and throwing on the hazard lights. Drives me crazy.

People taking ages to turn

Another pet peeve. Seriously why do you take so long?

So here aren’t actually that many differences. Road rules are basically the same and both countries drive on the same side of the road. Speed limit really does change your perspective though. Now when I drive in Australia I’m an old granny. In Japan though I’m a hoon.




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