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the test, and the laws and some of the content of the test have changed in that time, so any technical advice may be outdated.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.