Getting a Car

Leasing vs. Buying

Leasing a car
There are advantages and disadvantages both to leasing and buying a car. Leasing can be cheaper if you plan to stay only one year (especially for kei cars), and are advantageous in that the leasing company will pay for taxes, insurance, shaken, and repairs. (Shaken will be discussed later.) If you get into an accident, the company will provide a lot of help.

Payments are on a monthly basis. Unlike when buying, you will never have to make a big payment all at once (such as when buying a car and paying the yearly tax). However, if you stay more than one year it will most likely be cheaper in the long run to buy a car, assuming you don’t get into large crashes too frequently. Leasing a kei car will cost around 15,000 to 35,000 yen a month. This includes insurance, and likely includes (check to be sure!) reparations, shaken, and taxes. For a white place, costs might be between 80,000 to 150,000 yen a month.

Here are two places to lease a car in Kumamoto:

Family Auto (ファミリーオート熊本)
529 Matsubasemachi Toyofuku
Uki, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-0524
Tel: 0964-32-0471
Fax: 0964-32-0471

710 Kozenjimachi
Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-4614
Tel: 096-539-0852
Fax: 096-539-0804
There may be other options, so ask your CO for help.

Buying a car
The first step when buying a car is, of course, finding one. Often predecessors or other area JETs will have a car that they will leave or sell to you for relatively cheap. This is the easiest way to find a car, the fastest, and likely one of the cheapest. On the other hand, your predecessor may not have had a car, or it may have been old and riddled with problems. Don’t feel obliged to buy a car if it looks awful, and be sure to test drive. If you do buy from your predecessor, ask about shaken – if it is due within the next few months the cost should be much cheaper than if they just had it done.

Even at a dealer, don’t buy something just because it’s cheap. You can probably manage until your first paycheck by pawning rides off friends and co-workers and using a bicycle. When buying a car, bring someone who knows cars to check that it runs as it should. Be sure that it has working air conditioning and heating. Temperatures get extremely high in summer, and while winter is warmer than much of Japan, an unheated car will be torturous. In mountainous, snowy areas, you will need snow tires for winter.

If your predecessor didn’t have a car, moved elsewhere in Japan and kept it, or had one despite it being a death trap, there are lots of ways to find cars. The majority of you will want a used car, which can be found for pretty cheap. Ask your CO to look for cars, or at least where to find used car dealerships. Other options are:

  • The notice board at the international center (between the Kotsu Center and Kumamoto Castle) or the Kumamoto Facebook group/forum for people selling their cars.
  • The web for good car deals. One recommended site is:
  • Monthly car magazines. Available in most convenience stores.

If you are interested in buying a car, here is an ALT-recommended place, in Yatsushiro. The owner has experience selling cars to ALTs:

TAKASAKI’s (有限会社高崎車輌)
2806 Amagaemachi,
Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture 866-0893
Tel: 0965-33-4271