Life in Japan

Parking etiquette in Japan

13 September 2015

We’ve been living in Japan for several years now, but even now, we are still learning new things about this fascinating country.

Just recently, we drove to the gym. Upon turning into the car park, there were two parking areas, on to either side of where we were.

The smaller parking area on the left appeared full so we decided to turn right. The entrance was narrow enough as it is, but there were a few cars parked to the side, making the entrance even narrower. Grrr!

When we drove by the cars, we realized the drivers were sitting in the car! Haiyoh! If you’re gonna wait then please go elsewhere and wait. Why are you taking up precious space here?!

As we drove into the car park, Fu kept his eye on the rear view mirror and noticed that when another car left, one of the waiting cars actually drove in to take the empty spot!

At that point, we were like “Uh… it can’t be that they’re queuing for an empty lot, right?”

Because in Singapore, we wait randomly IN the carpark, not queuing neatly outside it.

We found an empty lot and parked, all the while feeling uneasy.

We decided to stay in the car and observe one more car leave and see if the next waiting car comes in to take the empty spot.


Die. How embarrassing. Cut other people’s queue not enough, I still mentally scolded them hahaha.

In Singapore, at the first sign of taking someone’s lot, one would be honked to death and then some. In some cases, the driver might even come out and kick up a fuss. People in Japan are just too nice!

Next, the dilemma.
“Uh… should we leave?
… but we’re already parked!
… but it’s so bad to cut other people’s queue!”

In the end we decided we couldn’t bear the shame of having cut the queue so we quickly left. Fu waved apologetically to the obaasan next in line as he exited and she gestured and smiled as if to say “It’s ok”.

Then, as if to mock us, we immediately found an empty lot in the previous seemingly full parking area -_-

It’s our first time encountering this parking queue thing and I’m not sure if it’s common and we just haven’t come across it, or just some sort of unspoken rule thing in this area. Either way, it was definitely refreshing (after we got past the embarrassment) to know that there’s still a lot more to discover about Japan!

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