DRIVING IN JAPAN AND PASSING THE DRIVER'S TEST

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Chapter 6
Driving School

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Q & A


INTRODUCTION

Taking a lesson at one of Japan's many Driving Schools is highly recommended, but not mandatory by any means. It is simply a way to practice driving on a course with a Japanese instructor and to have mistakes you might not realize you are making, corrected. An instructor will teach you how to drive to pass the test, not just give you general driving tips. The lessons are 45 to 50 minutes and you can take as many or as few lessons as you wish, preferably until the instructor agrees that you are ready to take the practical test.


Q & A

What is Driving School?


It is a private lesson on a driving course similar to the one you will see on your practical test. You drive in comparable car to what you will be taking your test in while an instructor sits next to you, has you drive a specific path, and explains errors and advice.


"I went to driving school four times. I did the 'crank' perfect during my first two lessons. The third, I hit the curb. I did not learn until the second time what do to at a railroad stop and my fourth instructor was the only one who told me to go up to third gear and not stay in second the whole time. Sometimes, multiple lessons are helpful."

Why should I go to Driving School?


Although most everything you need to know will be found in this book and from other people, applying it to actual driving is not as easy as it seems. Practicing in your own car is a helpful start, but actually having a Japanese instructor sit next to you and scrutinize you is quite useful. If nothing, it helps you practice listening to Japanese instructions and driving at the same time. Going to Driving School is the closest experience you can have to a test without having to take it. Being under the pressure of remembering all the right things may be more challenging than you think. Also, you will get to practice things like the S-curve and the Crank which you may not ever see on the real road (but that you will definitely see on your test.)


Do I have to take off work?


You do not have to. Driving School, unlike the actual driving test, does not necessarily interfere with work hours. You can take the lessons (45 to 50 minutes long) after work, in the evening, and often on Saturday. You usually do have to make reservations, but rarely have to wait longer than a week.


How much is a lesson at Driving School?


It is fairly expensive. One lesson will run you anywhere from 4,000 - 8,000 yen. However, if it keeps you from failing even once, then it is worth it


What do I need to make a reservation?


Call or walk in to a driving school to make a reservation. Bring your driver's license from your home country and, if you have it, a translation. They will probably also want to see your alien registration card. You can sign up for one lesson, multiple lessons, or even a two-hour block. The application form is simple, but in Japanese. However, the people at reception will probably know just enough English to help you fill out the form. Mainly, you need to write your name, address, birthdate, and whether you want to practice manual or automatic transmission.


Don't I need to be able to speak Japanese?


Although knowing a little Japanese is helpful, what you do not know can usually be conveyed through demonstration, drawing diagrams, or body language. To save the time and confusion, you can bring a Japanese person with you or ask for an interpreter (I've heard some places will do this). However, you do not necessarily need one.


Where is the nearest Driving School to me?


This site:
http://school.driver.jp/pref has the name and address of nearly every driving school there is in Japan. Unfortunately, it is in Japanese. However, there will likely be one in the nearest town of any size. Look for these words in a phone book or map of the city:

ԊwZ
(jidousha gakkou)

Number of driving schools in each prefecture:

Akita
Aichi
Aomori
Chiba
Ehime
Fukui
Fukuoka
Fukushima
Gifu
Gunma
Hiroshima
Hokkaido
Hyogo
Ishikawa
Ibaraki
27
54
30
60
19
11
41
37
29
26
32
82
53
14
38
 

Iwate
Kagawa
Kagoshima
Kanagawa
Kochi
Kumamoto
Kyoto
Mie
Miyagi
Miyazaki
Nagano
Nagasaki
Nara
Niigata
Oita
Okayama
31
17
31
38
12
27
24
21
43
19
30
19
10
38
15
19
 

Okinawa
Osaka
Saga
Saitama
Shiga
Shimane
Shizuoka
Tochigi
Tokushima
Tokyo
Tottori
Toyama
Wakayama
Yamagata
Yamaguchi
Yamanashi
22
42
15
49
20
10
42
35
17
49
8
18
15
31
26
16

Can't I take a lesson on the course I will actually test on?


Sometimes. Even if no lessons are available, many driving centers leave the course open on certain Saturdays or Sundays for you to practice. There is usually no instructor, but you can take a car around the course a few times. Sometimes it is free (like Fukui) sometimes it costs money (like Kanagawa) and can be anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 yen.



END OF CHAPTER

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