Before you can purchase a car in Japan, you must have a registered parking place within 2km of your home.
Walk around where you live and look out for signs like these. The sign below means that there are places available.
There's usually a telephone number you can call to arrange to rent a spot. You will receive a piece of concrete with maybe a number painted on it. You may also be expected to park your car with the front of the car pointing outwards, so be prepared to REVERSE into your parking area. Some temples and shrines also rent out their grounds as parking lots.
Rents can be anywhere from 70 USD a month in small towns to nearer 1000 USD a month in some areas of central Tokyo, though a norm of around 350 USD is the going rate in most neighborhoods in the capital outside the glitzy areas of say Ginza and Azabu.
Fines for illegal parking can also be stiff and if you are towed away by the traffic police expect to pay around 400 USD to get your car out of the pound and be ready for some penalty points on your license.
The Kyoto police are especially keen on towing, so watch out, you have been warned!
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Saturday, February 20, 2010