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If you are driving throughout Japan you will need to familiarize yourself with the street signs that are located throughout the city and surrounding areas. The local police monitor your adherence to them. They are designed to keep the flow of traffic moving swiftly and to provide additional safety to those who are driving. In general black means warning, red means regulation and white characters mean instruction. Just like in the states it is important for your own safety, and those around you, to know what they mean.
A beginner’s driver’s sign which is yellow and orange and known as “Fukushi mark” or “Koreisha Mark” is an emblem that must be displayed on the car of someone who is a beginning driver for the period of one year. It signifies that the holder is someone who has a new license. It signals to other drivers on the road that you are new to driving and may not necessarily know the rules of the road.
The Koreisha mark is a specific mark that indicates that the driver of a vehicle is an elderly person. It is displayed on the window the vehicle to indicate to other drivers that the driver is someone of advanced age. If a person is 70 years or older and it is warranted by certain conditions, they must display the emblem in the front of the car. If they are over 75 it is mandatory. It is shaped like a teardrop and yellow and orange.
There are many road signs located around the city. Most of them are written in Japanese as well as in English, but there are some which are not marked clearly and if you aren’t careful, not knowing how to proceed can be dangerous. Before getting into any motor vehicle make sure that you know the rules of the road and what the many signs designated for driving mean to protect yourself and the others that you are sharing the road with.
If you want to get a driver’s license in Japan, you need to obtain an international driver’s license. They are issued by the counties of the Geneva Convention and they allow foreign travelers to share the road. If you have a license from a foreign country it may be used in Japan, but there are only a fee countries which can share their state issued licenses. Make sure you know which ones you can use and which can’t be used.