Tips for the Japanese Motorcycle License Test

Commenter Tim writes:

I obtained my license in a different prefecture in Japan a few years ago, it expired whilst I was overseas and now I need to sit the damn riding exam on that Mickey Mouse riding course again at Samezu (I’m in Tokyo now). Do you know of any tips for this silly oogata riding exam at Samezu? Do know of any sites with exam tips, etc that can help in regards to knowing the pedantic rules of what you need to do in order to pass? (Looking left and right before every turn, left foot down before right when stopping, position of bike in lanes when doing a right turn, etc.) English / Japanese OK. Hope to see you on the roads…

Fist off, there’s a really good selection of tips for the ōgata test at Gen Kanai’s place. (After rereading it I see that Tim commented there already, so I’ll just keep the link as a pointer for others.)

It’s been well over a decade since either of us took the test, and the laws and some of the content of the test have changed in that time, so any technical advice may be outdated. Still, I think most of the general advice we got when taking the test is still relevant.

  • Exaggerate your head movements to the point of absurdity. Your body language should be screaming “I AM NOW DOING THE PROPER SAFETY CHECK!!1!eleven!!”
  • Before turns, activate your turn signal ridiculously early. 3 seconds is a very long time.
  • A stop is not officially a stop unless you put your leg down.
  • On the balance beam, unless you are 100% confident you can stay on for the full 15 seconds (or whatever the requirement is now) go as fast as is necessary to keep your balance. Going too fast is only a few points off, but falling off the beam is automatic failure.
  • Don’t dress like a biker, bōsōzoku, or squid. You want to look harmless. I have been told that statistically people wearing white helmets pass the test more often than people wearing black helmets. Don’t wear a scratched or beat-up helmet.
  • Get there early and walk the course a few times before the test as image training.
  • Unless the policies have changed, be aware that they may fail you on principle the first time (or even the first few times) even if you do everything perfectly.
  • It is traditional to do a burnout and wheelie past the tester’s booth as a sign of respect. Many gaijin fail the test due to ignorance of this essential cultural difference. As with bowing, it is important to maintain the proper angle (75°) when doing this.

Good luck!

35 thoughts on “Tips for the Japanese Motorcycle License Test”

  1. Pingback: Riding Sun
  2. It’s also useful to know that you will automatically fail the test if you don’t mount the bike properly. You will not be told at the time, but you will automatically fail if you don’t look both ways before mounting the bike, hold the brake when you tip the bike upright, put the side stand up before getting on, turn the bike on on before you get on, adjust the mirrors (even if you still see properly with them), or take your hand off the front brake without stepping on the rear one.

    The same goes for dismounting when you’re dismounting, just in reverse. It also helps to give your ride a nice little safety inspection before getting on (just so the proctor knows you’re the incarnation of motorcycle safety).

    Hope that helps

  3. Hi there! I am trying to get a Chuugata AT license.
    Today I had a test and failed it for the second time. I don’t know why I failed it! The first time was because I went the wrong way and stopped on the stopping line. Since my last failure, I have been studying really hard for to pass. When I was doing the test, I felt confident and moved my head absurdly just for them!
    Maybe it was my black leather jacket that failed me or the way I mounted onto the bike! Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thank you!

  4. James,
    Usually they tell you what you did wrong, and it’s hard to guess if they didn’t.

    I wish I could help, but sometimes they fail people for no reason. You just have to keep trying. Good Luck!

  5. If you get everything they need in the basket, you will definitely pass!

    Find out what they need first!

    The best way is to take a short finding out course for about two hours from any good driving school. That might cost you very little compared to you paying for the test 10 times!

  6. Hi, I just got my licence (A) in Norway and going to stay in Japan for some years, for the car licence I can just change to Japanese without any test (just the eye test), will I get my bike licence approved also at the same time or do they require a drive test. Thanks for any info.

  7. Hi… I took the big bike test five times last year in Saitama… and, even though I finished the course, and had no automatic fail errors, I was failed every time. My Japanese isn’t great, so it was difficult to understand their explanations after the test, but they basically said I wasn’t going fast enough? I plan to take the test again, but do you know any good rule of thumb speeds for the different sections of the test… for example, leaving the start, the straights, hills, turns, etc? It seems that they have a specific speed in mind, but are not willing to tell anyone…? Also, I was thinking of taking a police rider safety course… I heard that they will tell you all the tips for passing the exam in the safety course. Have you heard anything similar?

    1. Apologies for the late response.
      I know there were time limits for some sections of the test, like the slalom (which I think also has to be in second gear), and I know you need to get up to at least 40kph for the braking test, but I don’t know where to find the details for the current test. Sorry.

  8. I too did a Gaimen Kirikae with an Indian License, and practiced at Kawakubo Driving School, Saga Prefecture (Kyushu). A one try passing score in the high 80s plus six years of riding experience in India, I was awarded a pillion rider anywhere too. (Riding two up)
    Saga`s test course did not include a speed stop. This made it easier then what I have read on blogs. Also they have upgraded the Monster CB750 to a newer, lighter, and easy to handle 750. I forget the model. I do have pictures of the bike and course map.

    1. Hi, I’m doing the gaimen kirikae with an Indian license too. But will need to test at Samezu or Fuchu as I reside in Tokyo. Any chance of me not getting the pillion allowance in the license? I have riden in India from 2003, and currently riding 2 up on an IDP. Does it have to do with prior experience, or country of origin?

      1. Well. It’s a case by case. Depends how many bike riding years in home country you have & The quality of the driving test here. Country of origin doesn’t matter as they will strictly test your skills here.
        Just make sure to take few hours of refreshers course. And walk the course. Follow exactly what they say. You should be set.

        Remember you’re trying to take a ¥250,000 shortcut with a ¥5000 test. Pay attention. Focus. And good luck.

        1. Hi,
          I am also in same loop,
          Going for Gaimen Krikai in Kanagawa( Futamatagawa) , Already have a Japanese car license,

          Regarding bike experience, riding bike almost 10 years now,
          I have HDXG750 CC in India,

          Completed Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1600 in India,

          I know Japanese have ridiculous crazy rules,
          So need to careful & plan to go practice school for couple of classes,

          Will update verdict !

          1. Guys, sorry for late reply,

            Yes I did it got my oogata license in first attempt (practiced 2 hour bike ride before exam)

            It was a rainy day & bike had less grip to road, we have total 9 riders at futamatagawa center in kanagawa & I am only one clear that day,

            Now time to explore japan on 2 wheeler

          2. Well done Sanjeev Kumar. Now ENJOY the fruits of the hard labor. As for me, I am still trying to ditch my car and get a bike.

          3. hello sanjeev
            congratulation on your license for getting it on first shot.
            i am in also queue to do the same thing for first time applying thru gaimen kirikae. i have developed dilemma how ll it go in my case. though my experience of riding bike is also long around 6 years. any tips regarding driving test?
            would like to ask desirider as well what is it with `Just make sure to take few hours of refreshers course`? where can i take the practice test or on the test day itself i can do before taking proper test?

          4. I took 4 hours of practice at Koyama driving school at Futakotamagawa. It costs 40,000jpy and instruction in English. They will teach you about the basics for Japanese road riding and also refresh your memory on rules. It’s worth the money considering the time you will lose for failing and reapplying.

          5. Navin thank you for the tip. i will try to look out driving school option near around me. one more question i want to ask about two-up riding. does it contain separate license for two up riding as well?

          6. For Gaimen kirikae, it is understood that you are an experienced rider, hence you get the license with 2-up riding. I don’t even know where it is written in the license but the issuing officer told me that I can ride 2-up except in select areas explicitly mentioned like C1, or under passes at Ginza. They have a sign saying 2-up prohibited.

      2. DesiRider is right: two-up riding is based on how long you’ve been licensed, rather than on the type of license or the country of the original license. Since some cops might not know the details, it might be safest to carry both your new J license and your IDP whenever you have someone riding pillion for the first year or so.

        1. Hi Gaurang Gangan ,

          Well as all suggested, i will also suggest take some refresh course in your nearby Driving School,

          Some driving center allow you to take Oogata Bike on test course itself ( weekend only) but Futamagawa, Kanagawa don’t allow thats in my case,

          My japanese is OK OK, so i took japanese driving school practice 2 practice session, which cost me around 18,000 yen,

          Total Under 25K i got my Oogata license ( I didn’t give second test)

          If you in Kanagawa Area, then to be precise I can guide you, in other center its just logic, ( check this 819S youtube link

          For Gamen Kirikai ( Converting license) we don’t require any time frame & speed limits, but don’t be too slow & don’t be too fast,

          1. hello sanjeev thank you for the reply. practice session seem does not cost much. i live around omiya saitama ken. i contacted one of good rated driving school regarding this gaimen kirikae and after bike license am going to take their fresh lesson for car license ( i dint had in india). i will contact them again and ask them. thank you for the help once again.

  9. Going for the big boy oogata tomorrow in Fukuoka. Had to do 31 hours of practice which i finally completed today. Hope i get through on attempt #1.

  10. Hello, guys! I am “new” in Japan. And i need now to get a licence for motorbike 50cc.
    Does anyone know where to get and learn questions for the test in english in advance? Thank you for any help!

        1. Rosa, if you get a car license – even an automatic one. You qualify for the 50cc. But you can also get a 50cc license. You may need to take some lessons and attempt the test. If you have a license from your home country, you can attempt to translate it (inexpensively) and take some courses with a nearby driving school that takes ticket based lessons and attempt the test.

Leave a Reply