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Road trip across Japan

Brisbane, Australia
4 posts
Road trip across Japan
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I'm looking to get a working holiday visa and move to Japan for a year and travel across the country. My current plan is to buy a van and modify it into a camper and drive everywhere, as I prefer driving to public transport and I mostly intend to avoid all major cities and focus on discovering things off the beaten path.

However I have seen through research that it may be quite difficult for me to purchase a car of any kind in Japan, due to the needs of a residential address for the Parking Certificate (which I won't need, seeing as I'll be living in the Van, parking in rest stops and rural car parks). I was wondering if there was any known "work around" or loop holes or anything that could help me in this endeavor?

(also the reason I want to purchase a Van rather than hire one is that over a course of a year it'll be far FAR more cost effective)

Thanks.

26 replies to this topic
Kobe, Japan
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6,498 posts
14 reviews
8 helpful votes
1. Re: Road trip across Japan
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A couple of questions. Do you speak Japanese? Do you have friends who live in Japan?

Fukuoka, Japan
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for Fukuoka, Kyushu, Rugby World Cup, Olympics
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2. Re: Road trip across Japan
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I'm confused when you say you'll have a working holiday visa and you'll have no address. How do you think you'll be employed without a residence proof?

Having a car requires a residence record to be an owner. In the first place, camper van can be parked in very limited rural area. You can't travel in large cities.

When you say you want to save living cost, simply choose rural and small population area. You'll need at least 660 class car for daily use on the first day.

Brisbane, Australia
4 posts
3. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Well I'm not really intending to work. A working holiday visa will just allow me to stay there for the longest period of time. There's no where on the visa information page that says you HAVE to work. I've got more than enough money to get by in Japan for a year, if I can do my idea.

I speak a little Japanese, and have a friend that lives in Tokyo (she is Japanese). I was hoping to start my journey there, find a van, modify it into a camper in a week then head north and visit rural towns along the way.

Tokyo, Japan
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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4. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Camping cars are not cheap in Japan.

https://nutsrv.co.jp/

Brisbane, Australia
4 posts
5. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Yeah I know. I'm intending to buy like a workman's Van. Like a Nissan Caravan or Mazda Bongo and then build an interior to live in, with a bed and a small kitchen (Google it, it's a thing/ Van Life)

Kobe, Japan
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6,498 posts
14 reviews
8 helpful votes
6. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Sounds like fun. But the prep will be daunting. Without language, you're going to have difficulties getting what you need to outfit the van. In addition, buying and registration of a vehicle takes time. Gotta get insurance. I think you're looking at a month prep time. You'll not be able to sell the vehicle after your year on the road, so won't be able to recover costs there I think. Also, while on the road there will be several challenges with places to stay for the night. You will likely be questioned somewhere as you might have parked in the wrong area.

Finally, as you've noted, without a registered parking spot for the vehicle, you're sunk. I doubt that your friend has a parking spot associated with her address. If she does, and it's not being used already, it's very unlikely that she'll allow you to use it for your vehicle. Only family members share those.

Maybe someone else will have more encouragement for you. But my opinion is that you will need to look for a different way of getting around and staying for your year in Japan.

Kobe, Japan
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6,498 posts
14 reviews
8 helpful votes
7. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Something else. Where are you going to park the van while doing the reform work?

Kobe, Japan
Level Contributor
6,498 posts
14 reviews
8 helpful votes
8. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Sorry, I don't mean to be hogging this thread. But I just saw this posted somewhere else about a recent vehicle registration experience in Japan. Thought about you and your situation.

"As I waited at the vehicle licensing authority to reregister our car, I was struck by the stacks of paper forms and the lack of computer screens on the workers' desks. I felt a mix of frustration and smug pride welling up, as I remembered how we did all of this online and by post in the UK—just download the forms, fill them in at your leisure, and post them off with any fees already paid by card. Surely that is how things should be done! Red tape is a largely unseen part of Japan life. John tells how today he's gradually learning to graciously submit to Japanese (and UK) customs and authorities:"

Fairfax County...
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9. Re: Road trip across Japan
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I have never heard of a "Working Holiday Visa" until I read this thread. Google led me to this page:

https://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/index.html

Working is okay but not mandatory. No wonder I have never heard of it, USA is not amongst the approved countries. We apparently have no need for working holidays, I think we are forced to choose between work or holiday and cannot have both. :-)

Edited: April 13, 2021, 10:36 am
Tokyo, Japan
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
Level Contributor
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44 reviews
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10. Re: Road trip across Japan
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Canada and Australia are the popular countries for working holidays for young Japanese.

Get a second-hand Toyota Hi-Ace or something. You can park at Michino Eki but you really need a place to get showers or baths. Japanese hates unclean people.

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