We have rented a car for the past couple weeks until we were able to transfer the title of the car we are purchasing.  Tomorrow we should take possession of our new car.  The logistics of buying a car are tricky and made more so when you don’t speak the language. 

To help Dave with the process, last week I went to the vehicle registration office and was provided with the following steps:

While stationed in Japan, we must obtain local car insurance.  Two separate insurance requirements exist. We must have compulsory automobile liability insurance that is required by law and a voluntary insurance. After paying for liability insurance, a sticker is placed on the vehicle. The joke is that you pay for a very expensive sticker with a car attached. The voluntary insurance is for damage to the vehicle. 

The other important part of obtaining a vehicle is proving you have adequate space to park the vehicle. There is NO street parking. Japan has a law called the “Sky Garage Law.” The Sky Garage Law states: “Vehicles may not be parked on the street for more than 12 consecutive hours during daylight hours and 8 consecutive hours during darkness. You can’t use the street as a parking garage.” The penalty includes: 3-month jail sentences and/or a ¥200,000 fine.

Living on base, obtaining a parking certificate was very easy. We are allowed one designated parking spot for our townhouse. If we decide we want to own another vehicle, down the road, we will have to submit a request for another parking spot. This assignment is based on a first come first serve basis and typically the designated paring spot isn’t located close to the house. We have every intention to be a one car family while we are stationed here. 

If you live in town, the realtor who helps you find an apartment to rent will also provide the measurements of the parking space. Then you must have the vehicle measured to ensure it will fit in the allotted space. If your vehicle is too big for the designated spot, you will not be permitted to obtain registration for the vehicle. Same with motorcycles/mopeds. There must be a designated spot for the motorcycle/moped to park and it typically counts as the one authorized vehicle. 

When I first learned about the law against street parking, I was surprised. After driving for a couple of weeks now, it makes complete sense. The streets are so narrow, there is barely even a shoulder let alone space to park. It contributes to the reason to take the train as much as possible when going on a sightseeing adventure. The thought of finding parking is intimidating. 

Back to our vehicle registration, once we collected the insurance paper work, the parking permit and the bill of sale, Dave hired a “runner” or “LTO” to take everything to Yokohama to have the title transferred. This person is familiar with the system, speaks the language and represents the buyer of the vehicle to obtain the necessary title. After that, Dave was able to return to the Vehicle Registration Office and legally obtain our “new” (to us anyways) vehicle.  I will post pictures of the beauty in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, let me stress how happy we are to live in housing and have an “American” style parking spot. 

When you can’t have space on the street, park in the sky!