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Owning a Vehicle

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Most of your employers can help you find a vehicle. This is the best option if your Japanese skill level is on the lower end. Sometimes you can find a great deal this way through a friend of a friend, but other times there may be better options.

You can find independent sellers to go through and if you have someone helping you through the process it can be cheaper than going through a dealer. There is one difficulty with this and that is you will most likely have to pay in full and the transfer of ownership paperwork can be difficult and confusing if you are doing it alone.

Another option is to go through a dealership. There are a decent amount of dealers in Yamanashi who are more than willing to help you. The website below is a search engine that you can use to take a look at inventory prefecture wide.

Goo-Net (Japanese)

Goo-Net Exchange (English)

The most important thing you can do is use this website to orient yourself to what market prices are, so you can find the best deal.

When purchasing through a dealer you are able to obtain a loan if necessary, though you will need to have a Japanese co-signer. The dealer will also eliminate much of the paperwork and confusion. There aren’t many, if any, dealers that speak English so be prepared for a test of your Japanese skills or to find a helper.

The Process

You will go on your initial visit and take a look around. The dealers will probably not bother you, so ask if you need help. If you find something that you like be sure to take a look inside and check the mileage. You may also ask about cars that they have coming. If you don’t find anything on the first visit ask them if they have anything that is within a specific price range that will be coming in soon.

You most likely will not be able to take your car for a test drive. In most situations the insurance on the vehicle is expired so it is not allowed on the road. That is worrisome, but the governmental insurance system ensures that vehicles are in good working order, so unless it is high mileage you should expect it to be in good repair.

Once you decide to buy a vehicle you will be told what documentation you need to complete the purchase, so don’t worry about paperwork till then.

You will return and complete all of your paperwork and once that has been done the dealership will initiate the transfer of ownership, which can take up to a week to process. After all of the paperwork has finished processing you can pick up your vehicle.

A few notes on differences: -Haggling over the price of the car doesn’t seem to be customary in Japan. -This is not a one-day process like it is in some countries. You will need approximately 2 weeks at the minimum to complete a purchase. -If you are currently driving a junker the dealer will most likely scrap it and in that case the recycling fee certificate must be presented. -You will need a lot of paperwork to purchase a vehicle including but not limited to the following:

  • Residence Card
  • Passport
  • Japanese License/IDL & Overseas License
  • Inkan Authenticity Certificate
  • Proof of Address from your city office
  • Proof of Parking Space from your city office
  • Paperwork from trade-in (shaken, weight tax, recycling fee, owner certificate, etc.)


Your vehicle has a few things that need to be take care of on a regular basis.

First are the basics that you probably know, like oil changes and fluid level checks. These can all be performed by your local mechanic or at many gas stations.


Winter tires: You will need studded winter tires or chains if you would like to drive on the expressway during the winter. They are not required on local roads, but be advised that snow removal takes much longer in Yamanashi because it is rural. It is worth having them to avoid getting stuck.

Flares: Most cars come with a road flare in them, so check to see if you have one and if not you should purchase another.

Scraper: You will most definitely need an ice scraper during the winter.

Small shovel: Again this is winter equipment that you will want to have for snowy days.

Jumper cables: You might not need them but someone else will be thankful you have them at some point.

Fees & Insurance

Recycling Fee: This is usually done at the dealer and may or may not be included in the price.

Shaken: This is the mandatory insurance that is handled by the government. It is a very basic policy it is paid in full every 2 years. For kei class cars (yellow plate) the fee is around ¥56000 and for standard class (white plate) cars it will start at ¥80000. This is only the price for the insurance. You will also have to pay for inspection and mechanic’s fees, so expect the final fees to be more. The process can start one month before expiration of the sticker in the top center of your windshield.

Weight Tax: You will need to pay weight tax on your car annually. This starts at about ¥6000 and up with the cheapest being kei class cars.

Third Party Insurance: It is recommended that you also have a third party insurance that will give you better coverage. Those types of policies can start at ¥6000 a month.