Why Do Japan Drive On The Left?

My Experience Driving on the Left in Japan:

Travelling to a foreign country and navigating their roads can be an exciting yet daunting task. Especially when the country drives on the opposite side of the road compared to your home country. This was the case for me when I went to Japan – a beautiful and fascinating country known for its unique culture, history and technological advancements. The experience of driving on the left-hand side of the road was completely new to me, but with some patience and a bit of awareness, I was able to adapt to this astounding driving environment.

Getting Used to Left-Handed Driving in Japan

The first time I sat behind the driver’s seat in Japan and drove on the left-hand side of the road, was not the most comfortable nor enjoyable experience. As I started the engine, I could feel myself getting anxious about following the opposite direction on the roads. I had to get used to using my left hand to shift the gears and my right hand to operate the turn signals, mirrors and wipers. It took me some time to feel comfortable driving on the left-hand side, but eventually, I got accustomed to the change, and it became second nature.

The Historical Reasons Behind Left-Handed Driving in Japan

Understanding the reason why Japan drives on the left side of the road helped me to make sense of this seemingly strange practice. Apparently, the origin of left-handed driving in Japan goes back to the days of the Samurai. During that period, the majority of Samurais were right-handed, and they carried their swords on the left side of their body. They walked on the left side of the road, avoiding the possibility of bumping into a stranger’s sword during a face-off. To maintain the same precautions when horse riding, Samurai turned their mounts to the left side of the road.

How Samurai Culture Influenced Driving in Japan

Although the feudal era in Japan is long gone, the legacy of Samurai culture and tradition is still prevalent in daily life. From fashion to martial arts, Japanese society has maintained many aspects of their history and ideology. This is also true when it comes to driving on the left side of the road. The Japanese have embraced this practice because it is an integral part of their cultural heritage. Additionally, it is also more practical for small and narrow roads, as drivers can easily avoid obstacles and pedestrians.

Adapting to Left-Handed Traffic on Japanese Roads

Driving on the left side of the road in Japan can be challenging for someone who is not used to it. But with some awareness and patience, it is doable. Here are some tips that I found helpful:

  • Stay Alert and Focused – Always stay focused on the road and avoid any distractions. Keep an eye out for any road signs and symbols that may indicate the direction of traffic flow.
  • Practice Makes Perfect – Start practicing on smaller roads and quiet neighbourhoods before venturing into busier and more significant highways.
  • Follow the Leader – Observe how other drivers behave and follow their lead. That way, you can align yourself with the general flow of traffic.

Overcoming the Challenges of Left-Handed Driving in Japan

Driving on the left-hand side in Japan can be a challenging and even scary experience for some people. For instance, many drivers may feel uncomfortable making turns or changing lanes in busy intersections or streets. However, with time and patience, it is possible to overcome these challenges. Some essential points to consider are:

  • Use Technology to Assist – Many rental cars in Japan come equipped with GPS navigation systems that can help you stay on course and avoid getting lost.
  • Take Breaks – If you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed, take a break, park your car and relax for a bit. This break can help you refocus and regain your confidence.
  • Ask for Help – Don’t hesitate to ask locals or your car rental service provider for guidance and assistance with driving on the left-hand side of the road.

Enjoying the Unique Driving Experience in Japan

Despite the challenges and unfamiliarity of driving on the left-hand side, many drivers can appreciate the unique experience it provides. Driving in Japan reveals the natural beauty of the country, which is often missed when taking public transport or utilizing tour services. The roads are impeccably maintained, and the Japanese respect traffic regulations, making it a pleasant driving environment.

Exploring the Advantages of Left-Handed Traffic in Japan

Finally, driving on the left-hand side in Japan has its advantages. One of the most significant advantages is that passengers can experience better visibility of the road, especially when overtaking. Additionally, it makes it easier for drivers to navigate through smaller and narrower streets since the driver’s seat is closer to the sidewalk, increasing visibility and control.

In conclusion, driving on the left-hand side in Japan is not just a quirky aspect of Japanese culture, but it’s a nod to their historical past. While driving on the left side can be challenging at first, it can also be a pleasant experience. It provides a unique driving environment and opens up new possibilities for adventure and exploration that cannot be found through public transportation or tour services. So give it a shot and enjoy the ride!

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