Depending on what country you are from and if you have a license in your home country, the steps to get a license in Japan. Preparing the paperwork and taking time off of work or school to visit the actual center duirng the specific time is more an inconvenience than difficult. There is an English version of the Japanese traffic law test. The National Police Agency of Japan has prepared an informative pdf to aid in studying: https://www.npa.go.jp/annai/license_renewal/english.pdf
So finally, there is the driving test itself. Sometimes you can do it the same day you go in for the written test--other times not. My instructor only spoke Japanese. There was another foreigner I didn't know who the instructor had ride in the car. I was in the backseat while he took his test. He failed badly and I took the test by myself after he left. The test itself is easier than what most Japanese people do from what I heard, but the instructors are very strict. Some people have said there are rumors that they have pass/fail quotas or are harder on foreigners. Some of my friends have taken the test five times, others like me and another passed it our first try (and that friend speaks no Japanese at all). In any case, I found everyone happy and willing to help. You can expect things like turning, acclerating, stopping at a traffic light. Note, in Japan you must stop at railroad crossings, look and roll down your window to listen before crossing the tracks! Before starting, you will be shown the course once.
My 3 tips:
1) Take at least one lesson at a driving school. Ask them specifically all the tips you need to know for the test. For example, you need to enter the car by going around the back, not around front.
2) Arrive early to the center. If waiting for your test, look at the course from the viewing window or study a map of the course. If all else fails, google maps may help. You don't need to memorize the course, but being shown it once is not enough to get your bearings I think.
3) Relax. Nervousness is the worst. Try to chat a little to the instructor before the test and use as much Japanese as you can. Act confident and make it obvious you know what he is looking for. I even repeated everything he said. Left turn at the light. OK, left turn at the right.
Having a license in Japan is awesome. In addition to renting cars, I have used it as a form of ID when I was told my resident card was not sufficient to get a phone--though it is supposed to be! Good luck.
i dont know but i do recall reading somewhere that the AAA international license is honored in japan. so if you can drop in to an AAA office in the USA, pay a few bucks and get that, youre good to go in japan for a year. the person who wrote this (wherever it was i saw it a cpl yrs ago) was excited because it applies to motorcycles as well. so he was psyched that it was a great way to bike-tour japan.
Please feel free to correct this heresay :)
sidenote- an easy way to get a motorcycle license in thailand is to pay a fixer in the philippines for a philippine bike license, then show that in thailand and it's much easier to get the proper thai license.