So I just passed the Gentsuki Menkyo (Moped license) in Okinawa and I would like to share my experiences and Eric's Top Tips™ for passing specifically the Okinawa moped license test.
So if your in Okinawa and you're moved here for various reason and you find yourself looking for a quick, cheep and dangerous method of transportation. You're in luck the moped license test is quite cheep and easy compared to obtaining a japanese car license. First of lets explore your options:
1. Japan has a treaty with most countries that a simple drivers license is all that is needed to drive anything in japan. If you from one of these countries ignore the rest of this post : Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (source).
2. If you are Licensed in your home country to drive a motorcycle or moped you could obtain a International Driving Permit (Which I own, but only for my regular car) which is only good for a year past your entry into japan. That cost me $30 + $9 for a passport photo at AAA.
3. if you are in the military, i believe there is a fairly easy process for this that I don't know much about.
4. If your like me and find yourself in japan and are not Licensed to dirve a moped you need to take the Moped License Test.
Things you need:
- Jūminhyō ¥300
- Alien Residency card
- Passport photo of yourself ¥700
- Rules of the road ¥1000
- Test Fee ¥1500 (every time you take it)
- Gentsuki inspection class ¥4200
- Licesence (Menkyo) Fee? ¥2500
The first step is to obtain a Jūminhyō (your proof of residency) from you local town hall, this cost me ¥300 @ Haebaru Town Hall, you might already have one. Next you need to get some photos for the application and as this is japan you might already have a few. When i took the test I had some from a job interview a week before.
Depending how you like to prepare for tests I like studying and there are a few resources you can use. I purchased the English translation of the Japanese driving manual published by the local Japanese Automobile Federation(JAF). I have been told you can send away for a copy or go to one of their offices and they happen to have one in Okinawa in Urasoe. (source) Just ask for an Eigo (english) Rules of the Road. This book reads like drying paint but it helped me understand and prepare for the test. you could also use the manual the military uses to which has been published as a PDF publicly and is free.
So once you've studied and ready to take the test. prepare a few days off because if you pass the test you have to take the 7 hour inspection class that is 100% in japanese and there is no translation, but you must attend and pay ¥4200. The Okinawan Prefectural DMV is in Tomigusku (google maps link). You cannot take the class on the same day as the test, since the inspection class starts at 8:00am and goes to about 2pm. So you have to arrive sometime before 12:00 to take the test, because the "Okinawa Prefectural Police Driver's License Center" is closed between 12:00-13:00(1pm) for lunch and the test is at 1pm every weekday M-F. I would suggest getting there around 11:30 to get you application in to 'register for an appointment' for the test @ 1pm. At 1pm you will be shuttled into a classroom on the 2nd floor room A where a officer will check you application and make sure you've filled it out correctly. It would be handy to know your birth year in the Japanese era format, for example I was born in 1984 or Showa 59 all paperwork in Japan uses this for the year. Once he double checks and stamps your paper work you're moved into yet another huge classroom (with seats for about 450 btw) where yet another person will check you paper work and give you your test number 005, 009, etc. Your test number is very important because this is how you know if you passed the test or not.
The Test is 48 questions true/false with the last two questions are 3 separate T/F questions. Learn the kanji for True (正) and False (誤). You must get a score of 90% or better to pass this test. Something I learned the first time I took the test is:that they never change out the english moped test. The questions on my test were the same questions on the test that I passed on. A vast majority of the test focused on driving in general. You should know drinking and driving is a bad idea. Driving in Japan with a cellphone is illegal. A solid yellow line means you cannot overtake or pass a vehicle ever. Know your turning hand gestures. Know how far equipment can extend 30 cm total 15 cm on either side, beyond the size of your moped/scooter. You cannot park your moped anywhere 5m near intersections, etc, etc. No you cannot have a passenger on your moped. I strongly suggest reviewing the Rules of the Road before taking the test. I met people who said they had taken it 3-4+ times without passing.
After I finished taking the test I left the room and waited for the announcement which takes place around 2:15 pm, your test number will displayed on the TV screens in the DMV waiting room area on the 2nd floor if you have passed. If you do not pass they will post the failing scores with the test # a few minutes later. They make a general announcement before they displace the results. If you pass you go downstairs and do a vision test in 1C. Next they schedule your gentsuki inspection class which I believe they have twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from about 8am-around 2pm. So that is everything I have gone though so far, I post part two after I take the class. From what I hear its a safe driving lecture, and they tell you over and over and over again you are going to die. The kanji they use for blind spot translates roughly to DEATH ZONE.