What's different?

One of the differences between obtaining a license by taking the examinations at a driver's license center and obtaining a license by entering a designated driving school is that you are exempt from taking the driving skills examination if you have a diploma issued by a designated driving school.

The driving skills examination given at the driver's license center is very difficult to pass, and the success rate is very low.
More than 90% of Japanese driver's license holders are graduates of designated driving schools.

Each person must take the written driving knowledge examination regardless of whether or not that individual graduated from a designated driving school.

The most important difference is that if you enter a designated driving school, you have an opportunity to acquire the skills and accumulate the knowledge necessary to drive a car safely in Japan.

Although a fee is required to attend a designated driving school.

By taking an exam.

Obtain a license by passing a written driving knowledge test and a driving skills test at a license center.

You can take the examination at a license center in the prefecture in which your certificate of residence record is currently registered in English.

To obtain a regular motor vehicle license

1. Take the aptitude test
  (1) Eyesight ............... 0.3 or better in each eye, and 0.7 or better for both eyes
  (2) Color recognition ... Able to recognize red, green and yellow
  (3) Hearing ability ....... Able to hear ordinary conversation
2. Obtain a learner driver's permit
  (1) Answer at least 45 out of 50 questions correctly (at least 90%) on the written driving knowledge examination (true-false test). (This is not required if you already have another type of driver's license.)
  (2) Take the driving skills test at a course set up at the license center.
3. Practice using a learner driver's permit
  (1) Practice driving for 10 hours in at least five days within a three-month period.
  (2) During your practice sessions, you must be accompanied by a person who has held a class one driver's license for more than three years, a person who has a class two driver's license or an instructor at a designated driving school. This person must be present in the front passenger seat next to you.
4. Take the licensing examination
  (1) Answer at least 90 out of 100 questions correctly (at least 90%) on the written driving knowledge examination (true-false test). (this is not required if you already have another type of driver's license.)
  (2) Take the driving skills test out on an ordinary street.

To obtain a motorcycle license

1. Take the aptitude test
  (1) Eyesight ............... 0.3 or better in each eye, and 0.7 or better for both eyes
  (2) Color recognition ... Able to recognize red, green and yellow
  (3) Hearing ability ....... Able to hear ordinary conversation
2. Take the license examination
  (1) Answer at least 90 out of 100 questions correctly (at least 90%) on the written driving knowledge examination (true-false test). (This is not required if you already have another type of driver's license.)
  (2) Take the driving skills test.

Designated driving schools will not allow you to practice driving regular motor vehicles or motorcycles for the purpose of obtaining a license the above method.

However, you can practice at unauthorized driving schools.

Designated driving schools

Driving schools that have been authorized by the Public Safety Commission in each prefecture. If your have a diploma issued by a designated driving school, your are exempt from taking the driving skills examination at the license center in Japan.
* A diploma will not be issued in "Paper Driver's Course" given for people intending to convert their foreign license to a Japanese one.

Unauthorized driving schools

Driving schools designed as places where you can practice driving ordinary vehicles or two-wheel vehicles. They do not issue diplomas.