Kavli IPMU is located near Kashiwanoha Station, which is only a 30 minute drive from central Tokyo.  We also have efficient public sysmtems like trains and buses across and within the cities, so it’s easy to live without cars.  However, for those who have small children, it’s good to think about getting a car.

In Japan, we drive on the left. Traffic lights cycle from Green to Yellow and to Red. It is very important to recognize that drunk driving is strictly prohibited in Japan. Not only drunk drivers themselves but also those who provide alcoholic beverages to potential drivers or vehicles for drunk drivers face stiff penalties. Police can stop your car at a roadside and ask you to take a breath-analyzer test, which you cannot refuse. The criterion for drunk driving is 0.15mg of alcohol in one liter of breath, corresponding to 0.03% blood alcohol content. Please note that you can lose your IPMU job if you are arrested for drunk driving.

Foreigners can drive in Japan with an International  Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year after entering the country.  IDPs must be obtained in your home county in advance. Please inquire your local authorities before you leave for Japan if you plan to  drive in Japan. Even if your IDP issued in your home country is valid for a longer period, you need to obtain a Japanese driving license after one year of your entry to Japan.  Leaving Japan for more than three consecutive months will allow you to use IDP in Japan for another year.

A Japanese driving license is required for all foreign drivers staying in Japan for more than one year.  The best way to obtain it is by converting your license into a Japanese one.  Japan has bilateral agreements with more than twenty countries, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, to ease the process of acquiring a Japanese license. If you hold a valid driver's license from one of these countries, you can get a Japanese license without taking a written or practical exam.

Go to your local license center with an official translation of your license (obtainable from the Japan Automobile Federation), your passport, and proof that you held your license for at least three months in the issuing country before coming to Japan. If you pass a basic vision and physical test, you will obtain a new license on the same day.

If you have a driver's license from a country which does not have an agreement with Japan, such as the United States, Russia, India, China or Brazil, you are required to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Japanese driver's license. This process might requires you to take several attempts, even if you are an experienced driver.


For further information, please access below.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department:  https://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/multilingual/english/traffic_safety/drivers_licenses/index.files/convert_license_english.pdf

Chiba Prefectural Police Headquarters:  https://www.police.pref.chiba.jp/english/frm_foreign_license.html

Driving a car: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2022.html