Traffic Rules for Driving in Japan

You can use public transportation such as trains and buses to travel around Japan, but a rental car may be better if you have a lot of luggage, or want to visit nice sightseeing spots that can only be reached by car.

However, many people might be anxious about driving in Japan due to the unfamiliar Japanese traffic rules. Below are some of the most important rules for driving in Japan. If you know these, you can be assured! If you want to learn even more, click the Road Signs link at the bottom of this post.

1. Drive on the Left Side of the Road

In Japan, everyone drives on the left side of the road.

2. Intersections

Unlike some countries, in Japan, you can’t turn right or left if the light is red – no “right turn on red.” You can only turn on the green light.
However, you must yield to pedestrians even if the light is green.

3. Speed Limit

In Japan, the speed limit for ordinary roads is generally 60 km/h, and for expressways 100 km/h. Some roads’ speed limits may be higher or lower than the general limits listed, so please confirm the speed limit sign on the road. If you are caught speeding by the police, you will have to pay a high penalty. Respect the speed limit and drive safely.

4. Stop Signs

You must come to a complete stop for a few seconds immediately before the stop line or intersection when you see either of the signs above (they mean the same thing). Also, you must not block the intersection for crossing vehicles. 

5. Slow Down

When you see either of the above signs, you must slow down to a level where you can stop immediately. The above two signs have the same meaning.

6. No Lane Changes

Lane changes are prohibited where there is a solid yellow line on the road.

7. Bicycle Lane

The bicycle lane is for bikes only, and you cannot use this lane to pass if you are in a car.

8. Dedicated Lanes, such as Bus Lanes

This means that the designated lane is only to be used by the specified vehicle type, such as buses.

9. Priority Lanes, including Bus Priority Lanes

This sign means that you must give priority to buses (or the specified vehicle) in this lane. Other vehicles can also use this lane, but when there is a bus approaching or a bus stop nearby, you must give priority to the bus.

Click Road Signs here to learn about more road signs in Japan.

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