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Discussion in 'Japan' started by Sandy, Oct 14, 2013.
I'm worried about the exhaust clouds. Are they in Le Tour?
Wasn't aware that a P plater could get an International licence
P's and Open can.
Just need to be 18. Scary hey!
Our visiting Japanese Mogul skier has an international drivers permit. 35 hours driving experience to get his license in Japan. Even scarier especially since he has no experience driving out of Tokyo.
If your car breaks down on a railway crossing
"If you don’t have any flares, find something nearby that is easy to burn and set it on fire in order to alert oncoming trains."
Checking today's road conditions ... >> http://www.japanetccard.com/RoadConditions.aspx suggest snow tyers are needed.. to Myoko. Is it mandated.. can you be booked for not having snow tyres or chains ?
Pretty much all car hire places in "snow country" will have snow tires on the cars.
Fines for not having them .. I am not too sure..... But realistically, I would not drive a vehicle in the Japanese mountains in winter without at least snow tires
No, I don't think they'll book you, but they will sometimes check, and just turn you around and send you packing.
They will not allow you on the expressway without them.
Yeah then you pay extra to have snow tires on the car, you tick it as an option. It's around 1500Y/day extra in non-snow prefectures.
You would be a proper clown to even consider driving in Japan in winter in the snow without snow tires. You will end up in a bank, or worse. If unsure, have a look at the road to Nagano and Hakuba on a Friday night when all the people from Tokyo drive up from the city in non-snow tired cars.
When we were on the bus from Shiga to Nagano, we were delayed for about an hour by people trying to get up the hill without chains/snow tyres. There were people trying to push their cars up the hills!
Some people do anything to go skiing.................
The guy using his daughter's ski to carve grooves in the ice so he could crawl up 30cm at a time proved that
Hey recently spent 2 weeks driving around Hokkaido so thought I'd share my experience. The roads always had snow and/or ice on them but the Japanese were constantly maintaining them through clearing and salt.
Hired from Niseko Auto. They guarantee cheapest rates, which we found to be true. All their cars are all wheel drive with snow tyres and come with an English GPS. We also added on ski racks for 1080Yen. Overall, we were very happy with the car. The only negative was the GPS took us down some back roads, some of which were closed during winter!! You would definitely need snow tyres here, not sure if all hire cars come with them but I'm guessing they do. Would also recommend an all wheel drive vehicle to deal with the snowy roads.
As far as driving in Japan, we found it pretty easy and fun. We had a couple of minor slides on downhill bends when the stability control kicked in. Another time we went to stop behind another car and almost slid into the back of it. We were only doing 20km/h at the time but we hit some ice and the car just kept sliding forward until I grabbed the handbrake and turned the wheel! At these times snow driving experience comes in handy. Other than different traffic light arrows, the road rules seem the same. The speed limits were very slow but everyone just drives 10-20km/h over, unless it's dangerous such as a downhill snowy road. The drivers there were better than here in Oz. They drive to the conditions rather than the speed limit and we felt safe. Very few hoons or super slow drivers. The only issue we had with pedestrians was in Hirafu, but that was Aussies walking down the middle of the road like it was a footpath.
So if you're thinking of driving around Japan I'd definitely recommend it. If you don't have experience driving in snow just make sure you take it easy and you'll be right
Some typical road action in Japan on the way back from Nagano to Yokohama. I don't know how many times I've seen this sort of stuff, but at least this time I can tell what happened.....
Conditions: -2 degrees, road dry, sunny, ice/snow free, a little salt bleaching on the road. Road was essentially straight.
1. You can see a skid mark on the white centre line. Started to lose control here.
2. Trying to get it back with skids moving from right to left. Can see 3 skids as the driver applies the brakes.
3. Full brake lock up, and hits the left barrier
4. Bounced off the left barrier, back across to the right. You can see that the tyre marks are too close, indicating that the car was on the two right side wheels (left side wheels off the ground). Straightened up after hitting the centre rail.
5. Slid on the roof along the rail before ending up on the roof across the right lane.
6. Luckily not much traffic. Be aware that cars like this could clean you up if they are overtaking. Judging from the impact and distance, it was probably going at 125kph+ (I was going 110kph before this). It was lucky that it didn't jump the centre barrier.
Following our (party of 4) recent trip I can report the following.
For a party of 3 +, car hire is the cheaper way to get too and from the resorts.
International drives licence. Unlike most other western countries, hire companies won’t hire without seeing the int’l drivers licence. Not allowed to drive without it.
Snow tyres. On the way back it was snowing heavily and so just before getting on to the express way we were stopped by 2 guys who checked that we had snow tyres. Since we had them, all was good and they let us proceed.
Traffic signs. somewhat different, signs indicat what you are allowed to do. At intersection a blue sign with white straight arrow and another to the left means straight on and left turn is allowed. Right turn not allowed.
Just drove a hire car from Niseko-Kokusai-Sapporo-Fukagwa(near Kamui)-Sapporo-Teine-Niseko.
No real driving issues apart from getting used to how the intersection lights sit way back from the actual stopping location - and Hokkaido expressway tolls. It looks like some hire operators offer a foreigner hire car pass, see http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/en.html We hired from Peak and weren't told about how to navigate the toll booths. I now know that there will be lanes for ETC card (which we didn't have) and another lane in blue signage that allows you to pick up a ticket and hand it in on your exit at similar signed booth when leaving the expressway. We spent ~Y5000 in one day just on the Sapporo-Fukagawa-Sapporo leg, so the two or three day express pass would have been good value.
We did Kutchan kokusai through to Furano yesterday. Main problem was probably getting over confident, cruising along the tollways at 80 to 90 and then hitting really low vis. I noticed in general the trucks and bigger 4WD's and Beemers etc zooming along. We tended at times to stick on the outside with the locals in smaller cars doing 70-80. The mountain pass to Kokusai then down to Otaru was interesting. The corners on a real tight sandy section were heated.
Noticed a few of the main intersections in Hakuba heated. Smart.
Some of the footpaths near the train station seemed to be heated as well. Mmmm, could also be overly energetic shop keepers cleaning there patch as well.
I am not so sure the heated streets are such a good idea. Good for footpaths though
Following the heated sections, the tyres transfer a shitload of water onto the non heated section which results in ice when its cold (and its always cold in Hokkaido). There is a particularly dodgy intersection in Asahikawa due to 1 part being heated and all the rest not.
I understand Hokkaido not heating their Intersections, but it makes sense in a warmer locale. I'm talking Intersections, not the whole road/street. I can imagine plenty of tail enders or head ons at a busy but icy intersection. Especially somewhere like Hakuba that sees a lot of Gaijin that may/may not have much experience driving in those conditions
Watch out, I will be on the streets soon
What do we look out for??
Having driven from Furano to Chitose yesterday, mainly on snowy but consistent roads in clear conditions, the only other hazard I encountered was coming out of the glare into a tunnel. Lights on or not, it takes a few seconds to adjust your eyesight and meanwhile you feel you are driving blind.
But, one of the beauties of driving: we were hungry heading into Shimukappu and a few minutes before we hit the town and the entry to the tollway, we came across a little restaurant on the left, mama San cooking one dish only, a hotpot with chicken, mushrooms and udon. Delicious, and finished off with a matcha ice cream, cost us 1000 Y each. I felt guilty paying so little.
I've come to the conclusion that a high percentage of drivers in Japan are maniacs!
Also, there is also generally no courtesy shown which I find commonplace in NZ (e.g. letting you pull into a lane if indicating to do so)
Also, they will stop in the lane at anytime, put the hazards on and everything is sweet!?!
Its great to have a car in Japan but avoid driving in the cities if you can
Interesting take, I find drivers in Japan to be very courteous, but also very, very unaware of their surroundings. They know what they want to do, and the rules around exactly where they want to go, but anything slightly to the side of that and they freak out a bit. It's a good thing people generally drive slow over there.
If you've ever taken a Japanese license test (as Australians we dont need to, thank god) then you will understand why they drive the way they do.
Please explain Verm
The license test? Like how it's not actually possible to pass the first 2 times? Even if you do everything perfectly. And the way they teach them, driving around on these little dinky private courses at 30km/h max as part of the practical testing? Unfortunately, if you are an American you need to sit the test, and I know of people who have been failed 5 or 6 times in a row for the most trivial of things, also known as revenue raising.
It's important to be a little shit-scared when on the roads, as it keeps you on your toes. The Japanese take it to a new level, some of them anyway. Having said all of that, I dont get angry behind the wheel, and I much prefer driving in Japan over Australia. Once you get away from all the mummas and kei truck drivers, you have a lot more freedom.
Maybe the Japanese country drivers are courteous, but a large proportion of city drivers tend to be rude. It may be a case of not seeing a person face to face, but they blow their horns quickly, push in, run red lights, tailgate, and don't stop at Ped crossings. As Verm has said, many drivers are very unaware of their surroundings, and are also unable to read conditions or the change in conditions around them. (see the above expressway accident). Most trucks do no overtake smoothly, but swerve suddenly, which I think contributes to the number of accidents.... I think this probably came about because the instructors/testers to drivers to overtake as quickly as possible, leading to a mistake in how this should be executed.
Most scooter riders are muppets, real motorcycle riders are not too much better, and bicycle riders often are a danger to themselves.... I have a car video camera to protect myself from them!!!! I have numerous of bicycles coming out of side streets without looking. I will compile and post on Youtube. There was also one time where a little kid was riding on the back of a scooter, doing nothing more than handing onto her dad's shirt with one hand!!!
We were parked at the 7-11 once and this guy opened the passenger door next to us, right into our drivers door. If that wasnt enough, he then grabbed his door, closed it, looked at us, then opened it again, right into our drivers door, again! The look on his face was as if he couldnt believe that his door could reach or hit us, so he tried it a second time just to make sure. Luckily the car was a bucket of shit and we didnt care about dints, but the fact he could be so unaware of the size of his vehicle and its doors did not surprise me one bit.
Yes I think road safety is pretty lacking. That is what I mean by 'maniacs'.
When I got my license (at home) the first test is a "restricted" test which is basically just making sure you can drive the car and follow the road rules. You can only drive certain times and you can't take passengers. After a year or so you can go for the full test, where they test your awareness on the road. Like you drive along a busy section of road and then they'll ask you everything you saw and what potential hazards there was, what you did or could do to avoid them etc.
Can't recall a single time when a driver has slowed or stopped to let me into a lane. Back home in that situation at least 1 of the first 10 cars to pass you would probably slow/ stop and flash their lights at you. Maybe it's not courtesy, just seeing a potentially dangerous situation and wanting to help fix it.
But at the same time outside of the cities (as Sandy has mentioned) the horn and lights are very, very rarely used. If someone honked me in Japan I would be genuinely shocked. Also, you learn to understand that indicator on means I want to come into that lane NOW and you just make room. There are lots of single lane roads in Japan where overtaking isnt really an option, and on the expressways you better not hold up someone in the right lane when you go to overtake someone, or just linger in the right hand lane like idiots in Australia do.
Question for those who have driven in Hokkaido. What's the expressway between Sapporo and Otaru like in winter ? Does it get clogged up in the morning and afternoon peak traffic or flow pretty freely ?
In my experience, the expressway anywhere in Hokkaido is sweet as. I can't recall if I really drove them in peak hours.
However, as soon as you get off the expressway, everything is ****ed.
I would avoid driving in the city at all costs. Get on the expressway as soon as you can and get out of the city.
The main problems are:
-Traffic lights on nearly every single block
-People will put hazards on and stop in front of you at anytime, this will happen at least once every 5 minutes.
-Generally there are a lot of cars, and no one cares if you are in the wrong lane. No one will let you in anywhere.
I drove Otaru to Furano via Sapporo in Feb this year in the afternoon. No problem with traffic or hold ups. The snow on the freeway around Sapporo is really chopped and rutted, the closest to Aussie snow you will see in Hokkaido . Made it hard in small car. Otherwise straightforward
Ministry to help foreign drivers avoid accidents
Some interesting big brother stuff there.
Improvements to signage will help a little.
But I think they need to address some major deficiencies in they way Japanese drivers drive. Speeding(30-40km +), running red lights(3-4 at a time), ignoring pedestrian crossings, stopping anywhere and just putting the hazard lights on, clogging lanes on expressways.... not adapting to road conditions.
This confuses foreign drivers.
And the traffic lights!!!!
I was going to say, I think the Japanese need to look at the way they drive before they start worrying about foreigners. Have many people been involved in an accident in Japan, or know anyone who has?
No, but I've seen some doosies!!!!
Haha, need a sticker?
As reported by Norimono News via SoraNews24, these stickers are supposed to inform Japanese drivers that they are on the road with a driver who may not be completely familiar with some local traffic regulations."
Yeah, familiar with things like running red lights, speeding 20-30kph above the speed limit, not taking any notice of pedestrian crossings......
I havent seen any one mention this but, when traveling by hire car into areas/towns unknown what are the parking suggestions/options?
You mean ski resorts etc? Usually well sign posted and well laid out at ski resorts. Onsens , resturants can be a bit more problematic. Signage will be easy to understand (ie big P) some ski hills have pay for parking . Though i've never been stung.
I was thinking more when exploring towns, maybe the car nav has locations.
Always park in a designated car park. This will usually cost between 500-1,000. Don't park in another hotel's car park, even if there are plenty of spaces. Parking on the street is a no-no, particularly somewhere like Akakura where it will block traffic and, more importantly, the snow clearers.
Yeah on the nav you'll often see a P for parking..petrol station symbols etc
Some navis have a P button you can press to guide you to parking area. I used in Matsumoto.