Looking to buy a car in Japan? 3 reason you should buy a “kei car”

You might have already noticed that you see smaller cars in Japan compared to Western countries.

It might surprise you but it is actually more expensive than the bigger cars, but recommended as well.

Today we will be sharing with you what exactly is a kei car and 3 reasons why you should own a kei car in Japan.

So what is a kei car?

“Kei Jidousha”(軽自動車) can be translated into “light vehicle,” and will be cars that have a displacement of 660cc or below.

You can tell if the cars are kei jidousha if it has a yellow number plate. Cars that have a displacement of 661cc or above are called, “Futsu Jidousha”(普通自動車) or “general vehicles.” They will have a white number plate.

The government of Japan backs up residents to own kei cars for ecological reasons.

That is mostly the reason why it’s recommended to own a kei car, which will be discussed further on.

1. Kei cars are cheaper to maintain

The maintenance fee will be a lot cheaper when you own a kei car, such as the following.

  • automobile tax and weight tax
  • car insurance
  • all the parts like wipers and tires when you need to replace them
  • fees for highways/ferry rides

Especially if you are planning to travel everywhere in Japan, road fees and ferry rides can add up.

The author takes frequent ferry trips to mainland Japan from Hokkaido, so it really helps that the transport fee of kei cars are much cheaper than general cars.

2. Easier to drive

Kei cars are designed to fit smaller spaces, so it will help you a lot when you drive in bigger cities.

If you are driving in places like Niseko or Sapporo in Hokkaido, you might not have much problem with road space.

But if you go to bigger cities like Tokyo or even worse, historical places like Kyoto where some roads were constructed before cars came out, you would have a hard time driving a big car.

Parking lots are another issue.

Because kei cars are more ridden in Japan than general cars, a lot of department stores or amusement parks will even have some parking spaces that only kei cars could fit (to have as many parking lots as possible.)

Bigger cities will have multi level parking that wouldn’t allow you to park some of the bigger general cars, so owning a kei car would relieve you from having these stresses.

3. Easier to sell

So all the reasons that have been mentioned in 1. and 2. results in a higher demand for kei cars.

This makes it a lot easier to resell.

There is more demand for used kei cars than general cars, so you will have a higher chance of getting a good price when you need to resell it.

Good to know: cars are harder to resell in Japan

One thing to be mindful of is that the price of cars tend to drop drastically in Japan compared to Western countries.

We’ve met many people overseas buying a car to use for a year or two, but it comes out harder to do in Japan.

In fact, it might even be difficult to get half of your money back…!

If it is a car that was first registered more than 10 years back, chances are you would just be able to discard it for free.

We had some British friends that bought a car together and had the hardest time selling it and ended up discarding it and came out really expensive for them, so be careful!

Take One Otaru can help you with your car purchase

Helping Dragon is working with Take One Otaru to help you purchase a car that fits your needs.

They will be more than happy to follow up even after purchase with the things you need like accidents, maintenance and reselling of the car.

Feel more than free to contact their facebook page!

For any other inquiries ask Helping Dragon

Please give us a free call to let us know if you have any issues living in Japan. Your help might give us good ideas to come up with a good solution to make it easier to live in Japan^ ^

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