Why Back-Parking is Common in Japan

Why Back-Parking is Common in Japan Car

In Japan, “back parking” has become the standard. In countries like the U.S., where the land is vast and gasoline prices are low, cars with large engines and ample space have increased. In Europe, where people often travel between cities on highways, so-called “good-running cars” with high driving stability have increased.

And in Japan, compact eco-friendly cars increased due to high population density and limited oil resources.

In this way, the evolution of cars is inextricably linked to the circumstances of a country or region, and it seems that regional characteristics are expressed not only in the cars themselves, but also in how they are used.

One of the most famous examples is the way of parking. In Japan, when a parking space is closed on one side, “back parking” is the norm. In the U.S. and Europe, on the other hand, most people park headfirst unless there are special circumstances.

There are exceptions, of course, but why is there such a clear difference?

To begin with, there is no law regulating the direction of parking in parking lots. This is because, in principle, parking lots are private property and are therefore outside the scope of the Road Traffic Law in many cases. Convenience stores facing residential areas may require parking facing forward to avoid noise and exhaust fumes, but in reality, it is unlikely that you would be charged with a crime if you parked backward in such an area.

In other words, the reason why backward parking is so common in Japan is not a legal issue, but rather a cultural and customary one. In fact, the following statement is included in the “How to Drive a Motor Vehicle: Safety Checks Before Starting”, section of the instruction manual distributed at driving schools and other places where drivers receive their driver’s licenses: “Starting a car in reverse is dangerous”.

When entering a garage or other location, it is dangerous to start the car in reverse though it’s easier to start the car in this way.

Thus, it seems that driving schools recommend rearward parking from the viewpoint of safety when starting the car.

Another reason is that parking backward is easier than parking forward.

Since the front wheels of most cars are the steering wheels, when turning in the forward direction, there is a structural difference between the inside wheels. When backing up, there is no internal wheel difference relative to the trajectory of the rear wheels, so rear-facing parking tends to require less space for parking.

While Tokyo and other Japanese cities are among the most densely populated in the world, they also boast one of the world’s highest automobile ownership rates, and most parking lots provide only the minimum amount of space required in most locations. As a result, parking is known to be more difficult than in other parts of the world, and rear-facing parking, which requires less space, is thought to have become more diverse.

On the other hand, in the United States, with its vast land area, and in Europe, with its low population density, parking spaces are not as tight as in Japan, so rear-facing parking has not become common.