A Car License the Old-fashioned Way
After being in Japan a while you might feel the need to drive, especially if you live outside a big city. Getting a car license if you are from abroad can be a daunting task for some people but there are actually several ways to go about it.
You can transfer your license from your home country. Your local license center will let you know if you qualify for this as the rules vary from country to country.
If you do not have a valid license you could go back to your home country and get one, stay there for around three months, then come back to Japan and have it transferred. It many sound like a lot of work but some people do it.
I decided to do what most Japanese people do and went to a driving school. It takes most people a month to complete but it took me three because I did it around my work schedule.
The most challenging aspect of it is that the instruction and texts are in Japanese, which is fitting because the written test you have to take at the driver's license center is as well.
During the course there are a series of lectures, some practical driving and tests. You must graduate from the school in order to receive a certificate which will allow you to take the written test.
The up side to all this is that the certificate allows you to by-pass taking a practical driving exam at the license center. The down-side is that you have to take a 100 question test in Japanese and complete it within 50 minutes, scoring at least 90%. I failed three times before passing.
So, you can get your driver's license in Japan and how you do it is up to you.