Do you drive a car in Japan or want to but are afraid of the high toll road fees? Well, at least for the next two years, you will be able to drive anywhere outside the Kansai region for a total of 1000 yen. That’s right, 1000 yen!
Japan has decided to give drivers a break in normal driving fees on toll roads and will cap the toll charges at 1000 yen. Drives where distances before the cap were less than 1000 yen will still be less than the 1000-yen cap price, but drives for long disances will be capped at 1000 yen.
Say you wish to drive from Kyoto to Hiroshima. You will be charged about 1200 yen for the drive from Kyoto to the end of Nishinomiya, Kobe (roughly 60km), and then from that point to Hiroshima (320km), you will only be charged 1000 yen. Normally, the drive would cost about 10,000 yen overall, depending on the time you enter and exit the toll road. But the new cap price will no longer depend on the time you enter or exit a toll road and you will only be charged 1000.
However, this 1000 yen fee does not apply to everyone. In order to receive the discounted 1000-yen-cap-fee, you must have an ETC card (Electronic Toll Collection card). The ETC card can be purchased at any AutoBacs or auto shop and installed for a nominal fee. If you wish to install your ETC card reading machine in your car yourself, it can be done very easily and will save you a few thousand yen in the process.
The capped toll fees of 1000 yen will begin April 1st, 2009 and end two years later. If you have an ETC card now, you will still be able to benefit from somewhat lower prices than those who drive without one. ETC cards also save on having to stop and go at toll booths and lining up behind other cars. The overall savings from having an ETC card, depend on the user. Weigh these points very carefully before you decide to buy one.
Read more about the author of this post: Kyle Yates is an American English teacher living and working in the Kansai area since 1996. Read more from this author