Where to park in Japan ?
Given the urban density of most of the cities in Japan, and the speed with which the authorities notice illegally parked cars, it is very unlikely that you will easily find somewhere when parking in Japan. It is therefore strongly recommended to use paid for car parks in Japan.
If you wish to temporarily park along a street, some areas have parking meters. You have to buy a ticket from the parking meter and place it behind the windscreen where it is clearly visible. You should pay in advance for the time you plan on staying. If the time runs out, the car is then illegally parked.
Depending on the area, there may be time limits (one hour, etc.) beyond which you may no longer park. The solution in this case is to move the car in order to reset the system’s timer.
Beware, the police tolerates free parking in the evening (parking meters stop working at night), but after 3 am, ALL vehicles parked in parking meter car parks will be towed away.
The different kinds of car parks
There are many types of car parks in Japan, some of which are quite surprising.
- Self-service car parks. These car parks can be found throughout the city. After parking the car, a bar rises out of the floor, making it impossible to move the car, and it will only go down once the total amount has been paid for the time spent in the car park.
- Underground car parks or ones attached to shopping centers. Like in many other countries, you have to pay at the automated machine before leaving the car park and insert the ticket to lift the automatic barrier. Many shopping centers offer free parking in exchange for purchases made.
- Parking towers. Due to a lack of space, some car parks are designed in order to hold as many cars as possible. In this type of car park there are often employees present to help maneuver your car, before setting it in a sort of big wheel, where it will be taken off and stored in the heights of the tower. Whatever you do, do not forget anything in the car! There is also often a sort of turntable which turns the car 180 degrees to place it in the correct position to go on the the big wheel.
Prices for parking in japan
They vary greatly, depending on the location. Prices start at 100 yen per 15 or 30 minute period, moving on to a price per hour and per 24 hours (usually over 1000 yen).
It goes without saying that parking in the center of Tokyo costs a lot more than in the outskirts or the countryside.
Good to know
Again because of the lack of space, it is common practice in Japan to ask for proof that you have a place to park when buying a car, and failure to do so can result in a refusal to sell the car. Tokyo is among the world’s five most expensive cities to park. Allow for a parking budget as well as a rental budget.
Two-wheeled vehicles, including bikes, must also park in specific areas, or run the risk of being towed away. There are parking garages for bikes (between 100 and 150 yen per day) and parking garages for scooters and motorbikes (around 250 yen per day).
Parking fines are either given out by teams of retired police officers (generally two people) who photograph the vehicle and its plates to avoid any protests, or small police vehicles, usually driven by women, who mark one of the illegally parked vehicle’s wheels with chalk and also leave a mark on the road, then make an announcement on a loud speaker giving the plate number of the said vehicle, and come back around 10 minutes later to establish the infringement. The fines start at 10,000 JPY.
Our video on how to park a car in japan