Cars drive on the left side of the road and have the driver’s seat and steering wheel on their right side. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major roads are in Japanese and English. Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited.
The typical speed limits are 80 to 100 km/h on expressways, 40 km/h in urban areas, 30 km/h in side streets and 50 to 60 km/h elsewhere.
Most roads in Japan are toll free with the exception of expressways and some scenic driving routes. Traffic congestion is a frequent problem in and around urban centers.
Gas stations are found all across Japan. They traditionally provide full service, although self-service stations have greatly increased over recent years. Many gas stations close during the night, while others are open 24 hours. Payment is possible by credit card or cash.
Getting gas at a full service station requires some simple Japanese. An attendant may direct you to a stall. After parking, open your window and shut off your car. You have to tell the attendant what kind of gas (e.g. “regular”), how much (e.g. “mantan” for full tank, or 10 liters) and how you will pay (e.g. “credit card”). He may give you a wet towel to clean your dash or ask to take your garbage.
Parking in the center of large cities is very expensive, costing several hundreds of yen per hour. Fees decrease with the size of the city and the distance to the city center. In small towns and in the countryside, parking is often free. Parking lots in national parks or near tourist attractions sometimes charge a flat fee. Hotels usually provide parking for their guests at a flat rate,