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Driving & Public Transport

Tokyo - Driving & Public Transport

Expatriates who intend to live in Japan for more than a year and would like to drive in Japan will need to convert their driving license into a Japanese license. You can apply for one at a driver's license center in the prefecture where you live. The legal minimum age for driving in Japan is 18 years. A useful handbook, published by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) entitled Rules of the Road is available in five languages and offers foreign drivers information on driving in Japan. The JAF office in Tokyo is located at 2-2-17 Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 105-8562. Tel: 03-6833-9100.

Purchasing a Japanese car (e.g. Honda, Toyota, Nissan) in Japan is not expensive, but maintaining one is. There are mandatory inspections (shaken), insurance (jibaiseki hoken), and taxes. In Tokyo, you will need to pay for a parking space – one for work and another for home. Most signs on major expressways are in both English and Japanese. The use of highways is tolled. For example, central Tokyo's Metropolitan Expressway (shuto kosoku) is Y700. The traffic condition on Tokyo's shuto kosoku can be congested.

Public Transport

Train services in Tokyo are dense, efficient and the best way to move around the city. The lives of many expatriates (and indeed, many residents working in Tokyo) in the start revolve around the location of the train lines – from commuting between work and home, to dining out, grocery shopping, sight-seeing and meeting other basic needs.

Tokyo's train network is made up of a number of companies operating different routes: JR (Japan Railway) lines and other privately operated lines, and Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. A metro guide is available for download here. The train / subway network is dense, with many stations in central Tokyo just minutes away from each other.

Some information is displayed in English. The JR East and two subway operators run throughout central Tokyo and are very frequent. The other railway operators connect central Tokyo to surrounding regions. There is a free timetable available at each station. Useful information about train schedules, type of fares and useful telephone numbers are available at the Tokyo Tourism Info website. It is generally considered rude to hold a long mobile phone conversation while traveling on the train or subway. Discounted, prepaid tickets for commuters are available. During peak hours, some train carriages are reserved for female passengers only (ladies-only train carriages).

There are two types of bus services available in Tokyo: front boarding and rear boarding buses. There are many bus routes, some run parallel to subway / train lines, others offer complementary services. Be prepared to have loose change: the bus fares for most routes in the 23 wards of Tokyo are fixed.

Traveling around Tokyo by taxi is expensive. Fares are metered and start at Y660 for the first 2 km and 80 km for each 274m. Additional surcharges (e.g. night charges) apply. Taxis that are available will have a sign "kusha" in front of the taxi. The left rear door opens automatically.

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