Parking space in Tokyo / Japan

A guide to find and know what to expect when looking for parking areas in Tokyo Japan.

Related article

Buying in car in Tokyo, Japan.

Key points

Parking space

Restrictions and rules you must know about:

Here are the two most important rules to know about:

If you thought you could temporarily find a cheap parking lot far away before deciding on a final location, or any special case that would require you to park a car outside a 2km radius from your home... I have only 1 advice: forget about it :_(

For the sake of completeness let me state the 2 exceptions that most likely won't apply to you:

If you try to circumvent this rule using a fake address, or using a friend's address etc. You risk a 50万円 fine, not to mention it could compromise future Visa applications, so don't even think about it.

Parking space market:

Average monthly price for a parking space for each district in Tokyo: quotation.

You can find cheaper though. In Kōtō-ku average market price is 3万円 mechanical parking can go as low as 2万円. By the way, here is how prices are indexed in terms of space characteristics (from cheapest to most expensive):

In addition larger vehicles will cost more as it's harder to find a space that can fit. For instance in average you can observe a 1万円 (10 000 yens) difference between a mechanical parking and outdoor parking, I think most people find mechanical parking less attractive as it takes more time to get your car out. Note that, most mechanical parking only provide a handful spots for large vehicles at the bottom of the elevator. Chances are none are available. Typically if your car is higher than 1.5 meters it will be next to impossible to find a cheap mechanical parking space.

Exceptionally, you will find really cheap outdoor space as well (for instance on the border of some road). But in my experience those are typically only suitable for short vehicles (less than 4 meters).

Finding a parking spot

First know your car size. As mentioned earlier, Parking spaces are not all made equal in sizes, a lot of parking spot may be too small for your car so choose what car you want to buy before looking for a spot. Typically you want to look out for high roof cars (more than 1.5 meters) because most mechanical parking / car elevators won't accommodate for this. That being said, I don't recommend you actually order your car before you find a spot to avoid worries and stress because it takes time to find a spot and finalize the paperwork.

If your building provides space at the right size, and you can afford it, then the process is easy. Otherwise you'll have to find a parking spot yourself, so get ready to:

Walk around your neighborhood

Lot's of parking spaces are not even registered online. Just walk around your streets and look for parking lots! There's usually a sign with a phone number of the agency handling the space. Phone them right away or take photos and call them once back home (If you don't speak Japanese you'll need a friend obviously). You'll notice sometimes the phone number does not include the regional digits. If the phone number seems too short try adding "03" at the beginning (for Tokyo area). Other times the phone number is just outdated or the owner sold his spot and forgot about it: be prepared to be treated as an "annoying solicitor" (it's rare though).

Parking search engines

Don't trust what you see on specialized websites or search engines! They are very deceptive and bait customers with outdated availability and low price to get their commission: 80% of the spots presented to you are not updated and are usually unavailable or too small for your car! The only way to find out what is the parking space market for your car size is to contact directly the web platforms or owners (phone or email) a simple glimpse through parking aggregators won't tell you a thing, worse it will lead you to believe it's not so expensive presenting you unavailable spaces or too small ones. In addition they will likely take a fee when you sign up for a parking space. So be sure to actively ask and see what's the real market. You can also just look at some parking aggregator map, infer the rough location and use google street view to see if you can see a sign with a phone number: directly call the owner to avoid unnecessary fees ^^.

parking fees and paperwork

Once you find a spot you typically want to sign and start renting the space as soon as possible since any subsequent step to buy a car depends on it. It's not possible to synchronize the date of buying your car and get the parking area as you need the 車庫証明 shakoshōme to get your car. Most likely you will loose a week worth of parking when waiting for your shakoshōme and then sending it to your car retailer and wait for him to complete the car registration/name and address changes on your behalf.

Your parking landlord should ask for:

As for fees most places will ask for:

So for a 2万円/month you have to pay 6万円 up front. If you need to register for "shakoshōme" you usually can't cancel your contract within 3 months. Some blogs also advise to stay as long as 6 months to not be suspected to be infringing the 2km rule by (you could be temporarily using parking close to your place but moving your car right away to a farther and cheaper place).

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