It is extremely expensive to get a driver’s license in Japan. It costs from 280,000 ~ 350,000 JPY, which is around 3,000 USD. The fee is the second expensive rate in the world1.
The reason why it is so expensive is that Japanese people must go to “driving school (自動車学校)” to practice driving. They teach you how to drive obviously, and it is one-on-one lessons, a teacher sits next to a student while teaching, which makes labour costs very expensive.
It has good sides; for example, traffic accidents are fewer in Japan. In the US 11.6 people out of 100,000 die from traffic accidents, whereas 3.7 people die in Japan.
Japan is pretty careful to give people a driver’s licence, so even if you have a driver’s licence in your country, you may not be able to drive when you visit Japan. You can check the list of the country that driver’s licenses cannot be used in Japan from here. That means you cannot rent a car in Japan because we need to show our driver’s license when we rent one.
The fee to get a driver’s licence is very expensive in Japan, so there are some people who travel to other countries to get a driver’s licence and convert it to the Japanese one. In this case, you need to stay in the country for 3 months after you get a driver’s license, but considering it costs 3,000 USD in Japan to go to the driving school, it may be worth it. Plus, you can enjoy travelling as well.
I am living in Tokyo for 8 years, and I do not have a driver’s license. The public transportation is very good in Tokyo, and I do not need a car at all. However, if I live in the country, I probably need one. Probably I will get one in a foreign coutry.
- Switzerland is the most expensive country to get a driver’s license.