Hello. This is Yohji.
It’s been 18 years since I got my driver’s license. During that time, I think the reason I didn’t have an accident was because I attended a driving school and learned safe driving skills. It takes a very long time and a lot of money to get a driver’s license in Japan. And there is little information about their content in English.
So, this time, I will explain in English the flow of going to a driving school and getting a driver’s license in Japan. If you read this article, you can understand the process of getting a driver’s license in Japan.
Flow for obtaining a driver’s license
It takes at least two months to get a driver’s license in Japan.
There are eight main steps to obtaining a driver’s license in Japan. Yes, it’s very difficult and time consuming. However, please be assured that most people can get a driver’s license if you go to a driving school. Then, I will explain the detailed contents of each stage.
The first step is to enroll in a driving school.
Go to the reception counter of the driving school you want to enter and tell them your intention to enter the school.
Then, go to the driving school again at the designated date and time, and submit your resident card, photo of the designated size, and ID (resident card, passport, etc.). Depending on the driving school, you may need to pay the full tuition fee in advance, so be sure to check the amount and timing of payment.
Even if say “inspection”, you will not fail. You perform a simple personality diagnosis and visual acuity / hearing test. Visual acuity must be 0.7 or higher for both eyes.
Department training / Skill training (first stage)
In addition to classroom lectures, you will actually drive a car on the premises of a driving school. In the classroom, you will learn about traffic rules and the meaning of signs in Japan. In the skill training, you will learn the technic to be able to drive safely even on narrow roads and parking lots in Japan. ※Called school training（校内教習 / こうない きょうしゅう）Japanese traffic signs and rules are summarized in English in an easy-to-understand manner <May 2021>
Proficiency test / Provisional license subject test
In the proficiency test（技能試験 / ぎのう しけん）, you drive on the road in the driving school and the instructor scores it. The scoring range is from boarding to disembarking, during which there is no advice from the instructor.
The department test（学科試験/ がっか しけん） is divided into two stages. First, take a mock test（模擬試験 / もぎ しけん）. If you get 90 points or more in the mock test, you will be ready for the provisional license department test（仮免許学科試験 / かりめんきょ がっか しけん）. There are 50 questions for both the mock test and the provisional license department test, and you can answer “yes” or “no”. If you answer 45 questions or more (90 points or more) correctly, you will pass.
If you pass both the proficiency test and the provisional license subject test, you will be issued a license ※called a provisional license（仮免許 / かりめんきょ) to proceed to the next step.
Department training / skill training (second stage)
In the second stage of the course, you will learn first aid and what to do if you have an accident. In skill training, you go out of the driving school and drive a car. Learn about turning, parallel parking, and driving on the freeway. ※Called street training（路上教習/ ろじょう きょうしゅう）
Pre-graduation department test / proficiency test
The range of questions is a written test that is given from all the training areas of the first and second stages. 95 questions are asked, and 90 points or more pass.
The skill test （Called 卒業検定/ そつぎょう けんてい） is the final test at a driving school. Drive a car on the road and the instructor will score. The scoring is done by the deduction method, and a pass is passed with 70 points or more.
Department test / aptitude test (at the license center)
Take the test at the driver’s license center of the prefecture where you are registered as a resident. The aptitude test tests eyesight and hearing. Don’t forget if you are wearing glasses or contact lenses. The department test has 95 questions and passes with a score of 90 or higher. The content of the test is similar to the pre-graduation test conducted at the driving school.
Issuance of driver’s license
Those who have passed the academic test and aptitude test will be issued a driver’s license after taking a picture to be used in the license and waiting for tens of minutes.
Where do you want to go for a drive once you have a driver’s license? If you leave any comments, I would like to explain the mechanism of Japanese expressways next time.
By the way, a reservation is required for driving school classes. Since there are many students enrolled from January to April, it is very difficult to make class reservations. Therefore, I recommend that you avoid driving school from January to April☺
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