Japan street Parking Guide – How to use Meters

As someone who has driven a lot! in Japan – it actually surprised Ms. Buddha and myself when we were stumped about how to use one of those metered parking that are dotted all around all the major Japan cities – for someone who grew up in Australia where there’s almost always ample space for parking as long as you pay – parking normally just looks like this (we went for a “bread loaf” this time because it looks funny – plus…look at it compared to other cars!):

Our bread loaf car

So when we went to Osaka earlier this year after the Milan trip (yes, again!) – we hired a car again because my mum was with us and we were trying to find parking around our Airbnb – I took the opportunity to ask our host when we were arriving how to actually use the normal street parking – you can normally spot these with big signs saying whether there are availability or not.

Red means full – Green means there are spots

This sign for example means that for 20mins, it costs 300 yen – and up to a maximum of 1,400 yen for 12 hours – which is to me quite reasonable for the center of Osaka. (The street one block away was charging 3,000 yen for 12 hours)

If you find a spot and comfortable with the price, all you have to do is to just drive into the available spot and on top of one of the locks. After about 2mins – the lock will lift and absolutely tear your car apart if you try to leave without leaving.

Just drive onto one of these things (for this – it was bay 7)

Unlike Australia and Europe where you pay before you leave – you just walk away – and when you’re done with whatever you need to do (dinner, groceries, sightseeing) – just come back to your car and visit one of the payment booths (make sure you go to the right corresponding one).

Payment booths

Then what you need to do is just key in your bay number (example above would be “7”) and it will tend proceed to tell you how much you owe them – just insert the money (notes are under that flappy thing) and once you’ve paid up – the lock will lower and you’ll be ready to leave! I think this is quite good because then you won’t get a fine for overstaying like in Sydney.

Just be mindful that the lock can be on either side of the car – so be careful not to absentmindedly think there’s no lock when you come back and rip your car up.

Lock is on the other side


  1. Just wondering, if you’re parking, for example, a sports car with a much lower than average ride height, is that lock going to hit the bottom of your car?


    1. Hi!
      From my experience, I have seen Japanese sports car (e.g. new 86) parked in these spots.
      If the car you are driving is modified low or a superlow european car (don’t think Lambo’s will park in these places), then it is definitely more wise to park in a proper carpark.
      It’s not about safety, but more carparks just offers easier access in Japan overall.
      Hope this helps


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s