HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

Fact Sheet Display

Driving on Okinawa

For information on vehicle registration, and other related processes please click here.

Those who want to drive a motor vehicle on Okinawa must first attend Kadena's Drivers' Safety briefing. This briefing is offered every Wednesday at the Schilling Community Center as part of the Newcomers' Orientation. Sign up for Newcomers' Orientation begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Schilling Community Center.

Bring a copy of your orders, a stateside driver's license and a military I.D. card.

As for driving here, traffic congestion poses a major problem on the narrow streets and roads of Okinawa. Roads are packed with mini-cars, economy cars, vans, trucks, buses and construction vehicles. Combine them with several thousand taxis of all sizes and you have one of the highest vehicle/road densities in the world.

Okinawans drive on the left side of the road. Most new arrivals find the change takes some getting used to; however, you will quickly master it. Pedestrians must also adjust and should look to the right before stepping off a curb. You also will have to learn the international road signs and know Japanese road signs.

Pedestrian crosswalks are prominent on military installations and on streets and roadways throughout the island. As in the states, you must yield to all pedestrians in a crosswalk.

When Japanese school children wish to cross the street, they will hold their hand up, palm toward the traffic, and proceed to cross the street.

During rainy weather, drive slowly and cautiously. Roads become extremely slippery because of the mixture of water and coral dust.

The maximum speed limit on base, unless otherwise posted, is 40 kilometers (25 mph) per hour. Speed limits in base housing areas of 40 kph and 25 kph in school zones are strictly enforced.

Seat belts and child-restraint devices are mandatory. Speed limits off base range from 25 to 40 kph in business and residential areas and up to 80 kph on the island's only expressway.

You will encounter some difficulty finding parking on Okinawa. Always park in designated parking areas, otherwise it can be extremely costly.

Off base, if your car is towed, you will pay upwards of $200 at a local police station to retrieve your vehicle.

You will also pay a parking charge that varies with the length of time your car has been stored. The cost for illegal parking can sometimes be more than you paid for your car! If your car gets towed, and you don't know where the local police station is, call Kadena's Law Enforcement Desk by calling the Kadena Switchboard at 938-1111, wait for dial tone, then dial 634-2475.