A while ago, I had the chance to drive on the Japanese expressway. This was by no means one of the greatest things I’ve accomplished in Japan, but I had been wanting to try it.
I was mostly excited about just cruising uninhibited, without lights and such to stop me. On the rest of the streets there are lights at most intersections, and there is no way to avoid being stopped. In America, they tend to be on timers, so that you can get the timing right and hit them all green. Well in Japan the goal tends to be different, it seems the lights all go at the same time. There is no chance of not being caught, over and over. Its really frustrating when you need to be somewhere. This was the sole positive aspect of the Japanese expressway system, but when this perk only exists because the rest of the Japanese driving experience is so slow and inhibited, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
The worst thing about it was the cost though. There are no free highways in Japan, and they are not cheap. My 45 minute drive cost about 11 dollars, 1 way, on top of the fuel costs. Easy to shrug off fuel costs in America, but you Yanks don’t have to deal with my $6.50 a gallon. On top of that, my car has a .65 L engine with a mere 50 horsepower, so in order to maintain the speed of traffic, it needs to drink gas. The speed limit is only 50 mph too, though people in Japan tend to speed gloriously.
That first experience cost about 33 dollars round trip between gas and tolls, for only 90 minutes of driving. However nice it was to crack 100kph without the need to stop constantly, it really isn’t a viable option unless you can fill your car with people to split the costs.