Driving in Japan vs. the USA


In the USA, there are no Kei-cars(軽自動車). I had never seen a Kei-car until I moved to Japan and started driving one for work. When I first started driving in Japan, I always felt like I was moving slowly.  At first I thought it was just the fact that I was used to driving on the right side of the road and on the left side of the car, but the feeling persisted long after I had adjusted to driving on the opposite side of the road and car. I then considered that I was was sometimes driving on smaller roads, with less space for cars and more winding roads it made sense that I would be driving a little slower than on most USA roads, but even when I was on the paid highways (こうそく), I felt that it was taking far too long to go such short distances. Then I started thinking about the speed limits, and suddenly I found my answer. As 1 MPH (Mile per Hour) =~1.61 KMH (Kilometer per Hour).

Here is a chart to help show the most common driving speeds in the USA vs Japan:

Areas USA Speed limits Japan Speed limits
Residential: 15 MPH (24 KMH) 30-40 KMH (18-25 MPH)
Undivided Main Roads 35 MPH (56 KMH) 50 KMH (31 MPH)
Divided Main Roads 45 MPH (72 KMH) 60 KMH (37 MPH)
Freeway Urban 55-70 MPH (88-112 KMH) 70-90 KMH (43-56 MPH)
Freeway Rural 65-85 MPH (104-137 KMH) 70-100 KMH (43-62 MPH)

To put this into perspective, the highest speed limit that I have been able to find in Japan is 90 KMH (about 56 MPH), although I have heard there may be a 100 KMH (62 MPH) limit, I have not seen it, and local Japanese have not seen it either. This is surprising as the paid highways are typically rather straight, well maintained, and decently sized. When driving from Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima to Shinjuku, Tokyo it is approximately 300KM.  While driving at current Japanese paid highway speed limits of about 42-49 MPH (70-80 KMH), it would take about 3 hours 45 minutes to 4 hours to arrive, while if going 70MPH (~112KMH), you would arrive in approximately 2 hours 45minutes to 3 hours.


About mindofryan

spontaneity - check open minded- check optimistic- check 一期一会 - check I am a College grad, managing the daily work load, a social life, and personal hobbies. I love martial arts and am interested in seeing the world and it's cultures.

Posted on December 2, 2015, in Japan, Life in Japan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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