日本での一年間

September 30, 2010

The Driving Test

Filed under: seikatsu — myyearinjapan @ 12:47 am

Foreigners who live in Japan are allowed to drive with their driver’s license from home and an international driving permit for up to one year. After that, you either get a Japanese driver’s license or you stop driving. The driving test here is especially difficult. Many people fail on their first try. In fact, many people fail on their 4th try. They are the lucky ones who don’t need to take the driving test. Those lucky few are from countries that have reciprocal agreements with Japan. Citizens of those countries don’t need to take a driving test to get a Japanese license and likewise Japanese citizens wouldn’t need to take a driving test to get a license in those countries. They only need to have an interview, where they are asked about the driving test they originally took to get their license. The lucky ones included most of Europe and Australia and New Zealand. The rest of us need to take the test.

The Prefectural Driver’s License center for my prefecture is located a bit off the beaten path. It’s not close to any public transportation, so I heard from a friend who took the test several times, that it was quite a pain to get there when he couldn’t get a ride. Train, train, walk, bus, walk. A 2 hour drive took nearly triple that by public transit.

The driving venter and the lake

The parking lot for the Driver's License Center is right the lake. And next to the Center were rice fields, even though it is technically located in the prefectural capital, the larget city in our prefecture.

I was not taking my Driving Test the day I went to the Center. I actually still don’t have a car. (Hopefully I get it soon though….I found a car three weeks ago and they said they’d get back to me with insurance info…..Still waiting for that…..) Another friend of mine was taking his driving test. Not realizing how long the process would take, he hadn’t started the procedure for getting a Japanese License until just before his International Permit expired. He had gone more than 1 month with no license. It took about 2 weeks to get an appointment for an interview, another week to wait for the results and another 2 weeks to get an appointment for a road test. But finally, the day of the road test arrived.

First, he was given an easy as pie written test, in English. Then, he waited for his turn for the road test. The road test is all done on a closed course. They schedule the test for people switching to a Japanese license from a foreign license on the same day, so everyone else taking the test was also foreign, like us. After passing the written exam, they handed my friend a paper with a drawing of the course and lines and arrows telling him where to go. They told him to memorize the route.  I was able to watch from the building while my friend took his test.

The driving course

The course, as seen from above. The testing car is off in the distance.

Crank Turn

Going through the crank turn. It's a really tight turn and if you go off the curb even the slightest little bit, it gets counted against you. 3 strikes and you're out.This is the easier of the two crank turns.

Supervisor watching

My friend's supervisor watches him take the test. His supervisor had been driving hiim to work everyday while he didn't have a license, so he probably was hoping that my friend would pass the test so he could get his life back.

The driving test ended and everyone who had taken the test went back inside to await their fate. The first person was called to the desk…FAIL. The next person was called to the desk…FAIL. The third person was called up….PASS. And finally my friend….PASS! Yay!

The End.

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4 Comments »

  1. Good day!This was a really splendid topic!
    I come from china, I was fortunate to discover your theme in yahoo
    Also I learn a lot in your Topics really thanks very much i will come again

    Comment by bet365 — October 2, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  2. i can has cheeseburger?

    Comment by weight — October 6, 2010 @ 1:27 am

  3. I have ALWAYS wondered about driving tests in Japan. Thanks for posting this!

    Comment by reccaphoenix — January 13, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

    • No problem. B-)

      Comment by myyearinjapan — January 14, 2011 @ 10:59 am


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