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Thread: Buying a Car in Japan to Drive in Japan

  1. #1

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    Default Buying a Car in Japan to Drive in Japan

    Hey Guys,

    I'm moving to Japan in August for at least a year and I would like to purchase a car in Japan which I can drive during my time there and hopefully, import it back home when I leave.

    Does anyone have any experience with the process of buying, insuring, completing inspection, etc in Japan? I've done a bit of research already so I am aware of the many steps involved, but I was just hoping for some advice and tips from someone who has done this before. Should I look at auction vehicles or should I purchase a car from a dealer or private seller? Does it matter?

    Any help would be awesome. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    That's tough. Going in August, are you a JET? Where are you headed? When I bought my car here, it seemed like every dealer I met was out to rob me blind, fulfilling every car salesman cliche known to man. They are seriously overpriced, too, in my experience. When I eventually did find a car, it came from auction in a different prefecture, and the sales agent had to do a fair bit of legwork deregistering and re-registering and whatever else they had to do. It was over 2 weeks before they eventually delivered it to my house and more than doubled the auction price of the car, although that was still a screaming deal compared to what the local stealerships had on their lots. You can probably enlist a sales guy to buy a car at auction for you, but getting it registered at your local DMV will be dependent on your Japanese level or your support network. Your best bet might be to ask some of the exporters here who operate in Japan and see what they can do for you. I know a guy here named Nao who runs an outfit called Global Standard, speaks English, and told me he can arrange such an affair, but we were enjoying a nomihoudai at the time, and I've never actually done business with him. Still might be worth dropping him a line. I've also bought a car for import from William at JDMConnection, who has been excellent to deal with and will undoubtedly be able to help you out, at the very least when it comes time to import. Good luck!

  3. #3

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    Depending on where you are, we could help you buy and register the car. PM me if you're interested.

    Steven Smith
    SASTRAD KK
    http://www.sastrad.com
    http://www.japancarexportsonline.net
    I'm a Canadian in Nagoya

  4. #4

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    The dreaded "nomihoudai" business in Japan. Gotta love it!
    1993 Toyota Celsior Sold
    1996 Hilux Surf Ready for a Rocky Mountain Summer
    2007 Toyota Tacoma
    1992 Delica Sold

  5. #5

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    The nomuhoudai craze is stupid in my opinion. I would rather drink less and drink higher quality than feel like I need to get my money's worth.

    What we are talking about is the all-you-can-drink (alcohol) in Japanese pubs, bars, and many restaurants.

    If in the Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama area I can purchase from auction and register the vehicle for you. I can also run it through shaken inspection if you need though some cars will have shaken on them already. If buying from a dealer, you will have a number of service fees on there and the price will be higher. Japanese people are always surprised when I show them how cheap auction vehicles are.

    If you are moving to Yokohama, maybe we can go for some cruises some time. I don't have enough friends that have sports cars.

  6. #6

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    Hehe, X2 on nomihoudai Derek. Also, with a nomihoudai, people fill up your tiny glass repeatedly from about half full, so you never really know how much of that crappy draft you're drinking. And then someone else pops over with a glass of nihonshu for you...Yikes. For those of you unfamiliar with a Japanese drinking party, this usually goes on for about two or three hours, then you adjourn to a second, third, fourth etc. party to repeat the process.

    Shaken. Tictaek, if you end up in a situation where you have to do shaken and Derek can't help you, research "usah shaken", which is where you perform the inspection yourself. Garages hose you on shaken, because they will generally change anything that has any wear. I did my 98 WRX and my wife's Pajero myself, both times being quoted around $2000 by a garage. Doing it myself cost a couple hours of my time, and around $50 for new wipers, fluid changes etc, plus the obligatory taxes which were $600 for the WRX and $800 for the paj. Obscenely expensive, yes, but a hell of a lot cheaper than the accepted route. Like Derek says, the locals just don't know about stuff like that, and will generally just bend over when told. I've got half my office usah shakening now lol!

    Derek, if you make it up to Aomori, I'll go for a cruise through the twisties with you, lots of good mountain roads up here!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek View Post
    The nomuhoudai craze is stupid in my opinion.
    Sorry Derek have to respectfully disagree! lol
    Need some of these establishments in Canada!

    Sorry to hijack this thread....
    1993 Toyota Celsior Sold
    1996 Hilux Surf Ready for a Rocky Mountain Summer
    2007 Toyota Tacoma
    1992 Delica Sold

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by olivertwisto View Post
    Hehe, X2 on nomihoudai Derek. Also, with a nomihoudai, people fill up your tiny glass repeatedly from about half full, so you never really know how much of that crappy draft you're drinking. And then someone else pops over with a glass of nihonshu for you...Yikes. For those of you unfamiliar with a Japanese drinking party, this usually goes on for about two or three hours, then you adjourn to a second, third, fourth etc. party to repeat the process.

    Shaken. Tictaek, if you end up in a situation where you have to do shaken and Derek can't help you, research "usah shaken", which is where you perform the inspection yourself. Garages hose you on shaken, because they will generally change anything that has any wear. I did my 98 WRX and my wife's Pajero myself, both times being quoted around $2000 by a garage. Doing it myself cost a couple hours of my time, and around $50 for new wipers, fluid changes etc, plus the obligatory taxes which were $600 for the WRX and $800 for the paj. Obscenely expensive, yes, but a hell of a lot cheaper than the accepted route. Like Derek says, the locals just don't know about stuff like that, and will generally just bend over when told. I've got half my office usah shakening now lol!

    Derek, if you make it up to Aomori, I'll go for a cruise through the twisties with you, lots of good mountain roads up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by Sastrad View Post
    Depending on where you are, we could help you buy and register the car. PM me if you're interested.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek View Post
    The nomuhoudai craze is stupid in my opinion. I would rather drink less and drink higher quality than feel like I need to get my money's worth.

    What we are talking about is the all-you-can-drink (alcohol) in Japanese pubs, bars, and many restaurants.

    If in the Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama area I can purchase from auction and register the vehicle for you. I can also run it through shaken inspection if you need though some cars will have shaken on them already. If buying from a dealer, you will have a number of service fees on there and the price will be higher. Japanese people are always surprised when I show them how cheap auction vehicles are.

    If you are moving to Yokohama, maybe we can go for some cruises some time. I don't have enough friends that have sports cars.
    Thanks guys!

    @olivertwisto Yup, JET it is for me. I have no idea where I am going to be placed yet though my girlfriend from Canada is living in the Ibaraki prefecture right now so I am hoping to be placed somewhere close to her. We'll see what happens. I would rather buy a car from the auction and do the user shaken if possible. I'd like to save myself from spending unnecessary amounts if I can.

    @Sastrad I'll definitely keep you in mind as time nears closer to my arrival and once I am told where I am headed. Thanks!

    @Derek I'm up for a cruise no matter where I am located. I'll be sure to drive to that area at least once just for the heck of it. Thanks for suggesting your services and willingness to help.

    It's good to know that there are a few resources for me to get a hold of once I know more on my end. Thanks again.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TicTaek View Post
    @olivertwisto Yup, JET it is for me. I have no idea where I am going to be placed yet though my girlfriend from Canada is living in the Ibaraki prefecture right now so I am hoping to be placed somewhere close to her. We'll see what happens. I would rather buy a car from the auction and do the user shaken if possible. I'd like to save myself from spending unnecessary amounts if I can.
    Cool, hopefully you enjoy it! You may even end up as my successor, do let us know where you end up going. You may not end up needing a car or being allowed to drive. One more piece of Japan car advice; get an electronic toll card reader, and ETC card (which is harnessed to a Japanese credit card). If you end up driving on the expressways much, it will save you a buttload of cash, because the exorbitant tolls are a little less extortionate if you have ETC. I got my card reader used from a service shop, around $100 installed. Getting a credit card is borderline impossible, but JAL is one of the few outfits that will give them to foreigners. Good luck, have fun!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by olivertwisto View Post
    Cool, hopefully you enjoy it! You may even end up as my successor, do let us know where you end up going. You may not end up needing a car or being allowed to drive. One more piece of Japan car advice; get an electronic toll card reader, and ETC card (which is harnessed to a Japanese credit card). If you end up driving on the expressways much, it will save you a buttload of cash, because the exorbitant tolls are a little less extortionate if you have ETC. I got my card reader used from a service shop, around $100 installed. Getting a credit card is borderline impossible, but JAL is one of the few outfits that will give them to foreigners. Good luck, have fun!
    Hah! Thanks man! Is it actually quite possible that I wouldn't be allowed to drive? I think that would drive me crazy. How long have you been working with JET?

    Thanks for the credit card info. I knew about the ETC but had no idea how I would go about connecting it to a Japanese credit card which I obviously would need to get somehow.

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