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Things to be careful about so as to enjoy driving in and around Hakodate

Driving a car will increase your enjoyment when sightseeing in Hakodate or traveling in Hokkaido. It is fun to drive to various travel destinations, but be aware of the differences in traffic rules between your home country and Japan. In order to enjoy driving in Hakodate, you need to know the traffic rules in Japan. We will also introduce some road conditions unique to Hokkaido and Hakodate.

* You need an International Driving Permit in order to drive in Japan. There are also valid foreign driver’s licenses in Japan. Please check in advance.

1. Traffic rules in Japan

Unlike in many countries around the world, cars must drive on the left side of the road in Japan. Be careful not to drive on the wrong side of the road. There are also various traffic signs. Please understand the meaning of the signs and follow the traffic rules.

Major traffic signs


At intersections with this sign, you must come to a complete stop. Make sure there are no cars, bicycles or pedestrians before proceeding.

Only moving in the designated direction is permitted

Vehicles must follow the directions indicated by the arrows. In this case, you can go straight and turn left, but you cannot turn right.

One way

Vehicles must follow the direction indicated by the arrow. In this case, you can turn left, but you cannot go straight or turn right.

No entry

Vehicles are not allowed to enter.

No parking

Vehicles are not allowed to park here. (The numbers above indicate the time of prohibition.)

Be aware of traffic rules in Japan

Related links
Traffic Rules (National Police Agrncy)

2. Precautions when driving in Hokkaido

It is easy to slip on icy and snowy roads in winter. You need to be especially careful when driving a car. Take precausions by starting slowly, start breaking earlier, braking slowly, and not turning the steering wheel suddenly. For those who are not accustomed to driving on snowy roads, we recommend using public transportation.

Related links
Winter Snowy Road Drive Guide

There are wide, straight and long roads in Hokkaido, so be careful not to overspeed.

In recent years, the number of traffic accidents caused by foreign tourists in Hokkaido has increased significantly. Drive carefully so as to make your trip enjoyable.

Number of accidents in Hokkaido by foreign tourists

3. Precautions when driving in Hakodate

Cars and trams run on the same road in Hakodate City. Stopping on the tram tracks, such as when turning at an intersection, will block the passage of trams. Make sure no trams are coming before proceeding.

At major intersections, which trams also use, there are traffic lights dedicated to trams in addition to the traffic lights for cars. Take notice and do not to get confused.

The upper signal is for cars, and the lower signal is for trams.

  • When the upper signal is a red light and the lower signal is a yellow arrow
    Cars must stop and trams run according to the arrows.
  • When the upper signal is a green light and the lower signal is a red X mark
    Cars can go and trams must stop.

4. If you cause an accident or get involved in an accident

Please contact the police immediately (dial 110), or if someone is injured, call an ambulance first (dial 119).

If you do not speak Japanese, say which language you can speak and you can make a three-way call, that is a call between you, the caller, an interpreter from the police interpreting center and a police officer from the communication command room.

Please drive safely and enjoy your travels in Hokkaido!