Driving school and discrimination awarenesss

As I said in a previous post, I do not have a driving license it every now and then I get itchy and think about getting one. So the other day, feeling itchy, I scanned the web to find driving schools close to my new home in Ikebukuro and found the Koyama driving school.

Interestingly, they claim to be the only driving school in Tokyo to cater to the gaijin population by offering a curriculum entirely in english. So I checked out the prices on the English and Japanese versions of the site for basic manual license:

  • Japanese: ¥302,950
  • English: ¥398,630

Wow, those bilingual driving teachers sure come at a big premium don’t they? Well if you compare the detail of the prices here’s what you find:



So if you actually compare the detailed split-up, the english textbooks cost ¥18,900 compared to ¥5,250 which I can understand. All the lesson/test fees are the same. The only other difference is that the entry fee is ¥83.000 more expensive if you sign up in english…

Now the interesting thing is not that it’s more expensive, I would consider it normal to have higher lecture/training fees in english language in Tokyo. What’s shocking is that there is so little awareness of “discrimination being bad” in this country that no-one thought it a bad idea to write down the price hike for this special service (which could be justifiable) as a random meaningless admission fee.

Suffice to say, I will not be bringing my business to this shop…

10 thoughts on “Driving school and discrimination awarenesss”

  1. I actually see their point, they have to find someone who can teach driving as well as teach in English. It’s not all that easy to find someone fluent in English, and their services will obviously become more expensive because it takes many years to master English to a point where you can teach a class in it.

  2. I specifically said it wasn’t a problem that it was more expensive in english.
    My gripe is that they put down the ¥80.000 difference in the “admission fee” and not the teaching fees. How can you justify with a straight face that admission alone is more expensive for the english curriculum compared to the normal japanese curriculum?

  3. May I ask, what country do you come from originally ?
    …and, did you not have a drivers licence in your home country before you went to Japan ?
    I got my Japanese drivers licence by just filling out a form, showing them a copy of my Australian licence and paying a few yen, although I am aware that us New Zealand, Australian and UK citizens (all coutries that drive on the left side of the road) were able to just pay and have it transfered over, they wouldn’t let me have my truck licence part though, and the restricted my motorcycle licence to 400cc even though it was unrestricted here.
    I can say though, that my US friend (US people cannot just pay, they have to do a test) who had his licence in the US, tried and was failed at least 6 times before he gave up as it was costing him too much. We had heard a rumour that they were reluctant to let US citizens drive there due to the fact the US drive on the opposite side of the road to Japan.
    This was 10 years ago, do not know how much ahs changed since, I will be moving back there next year, hope I can just ‘renew’ my old Japanese licence :)

  4. By the way, I agree, an extra $800 or so listed as an “admission fee” is ridiculous..I found the “nether” parts of Japan (I lived in Fukuoka most of the time) were not as bad as Tokyo, and yet, they have less facilities for us gaijin down there…its blatant exploitation of us in the “Big Smoke” of Tokyo…

  5. I’m from France and I do not have a driving license from any country.
    If I had my French driving license, I could drive with a translation (delivered for free at the embassy) for a year of my coming to Japan and then exchange that for a Japanese driving license with only an eyesight check at the menkyou-center.

    Alas, I was rather unmotivated while attending university and never got to strap down and get my license in my home country…

  6. the main problem with US drivers is that each of the 50 states decides individually if they will have reciprocal agreements with another country. most other countries in the world have national drivers licenses, I guess the japanese were just not intrested in dealings on the state level. ( have had this problem in other countries where NY and Massachusetts were accepted but new Hampshire, Maine or Vermont were not. As i understand it all you need to do is take a written and physical drivers test, i will let you know how it goes

  7. Nishitoko is correct. If the United States were actually “united” instead of 50 separate ones, then we’d have a national driver’s license instead of the current state we’re living in. Japanese coming over to the states has to deal with the rules and regulations there, so what is the big deal?

    Yet another reason to learn Japanese. I wonder how the English is in those textbooks, and how well the instructor can teach. From my experiences here, I’ve yet to meet anyone that was fluent in English. If you were to go there, and was fluent in Japanese, would they force you to take the English course?

  8. What I’d like to try is go there and see if I could take the Japanese pack and just pay extra for the English language books.

    By the way, this price tag does not apply to US citizen who already have a US driving license. This is for basic “start from scratch” training.
    If you have a valid US license, you only need to pass a very simple 10-questions written test and a standard driving test. The standard 20-hour driving lessons are not required, but it is recommended to take what they call a “paper driver course” which is 5-hour preparation course on the circuit to get to know the specific points that the official examinator is looking for.

  9. Very clever, I never thought of reading the small print, I just assumed everyone paid this much…I also need a licence and I agree, even if they had a Phd in English, 96,000 yen more is ridiculous – I DON’T see their point.

  10. There are more less expensive English Driving School in Tokyo recently. I will recommend anyone interested in having his drivers license in Japan should check Tokyo Driving School.
    Be it conversion or from scratch. It is own and operated by foreigners and more so the course is flexible and they have one on one lessons.

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