What are all these mysterious Japanese car stickers?

Home of the original Mysterious Car Stickerscopyleft mark

Back in 2006, the 3Yen uncovered a mystery: What is this mysterious Japanese car sticker?
Could this official “Blue Shamrock” car sticker mean that the Japanese driver is handicapped by too much Irish whiskey? 1
Shamrock stickershougai_2

butterfly-markWell, I just went in to renew my Japanese drivers license and an even more mysterious official car sticker confounded me during my license renewal lecture.
Does this sticker mean the driver has butterflies in their brain? 2

Japan has even more official “marks” such as the scary teardrop of orange and yellow, which is called the Ochiba mark ochiba-mark (fallen leaf mark) warning of autos full of autumn leaves. 3
fallen-leaf car fallen leaf mark

The best known of all these marks is the green and yellow chevron, the so-called Wakaba mark wakaba mark (green leaf mark) that warns of budding leaves and the pollen season. 4
leaf-mark carbudding green leaf mark

Ok, ok, here’s the Rest-of-the-story

1 Japan adopted the shamrock symbol to designate handicapped drivers even though the international symbol of a wheelchair is recognized everywhere else in the world.
The weird butterfly mark is Japan’s “hard of hearing” symbol. Hard of hearing drivers must display these stickers, which forbids other drivers from cutting off or aggressively passing such cars. ear stickerThis butterfly-mark is an obscure, only-in-Japan symbol and other parts of the world use this easy-to-understand ear mark.
new Kourei mark for eldery drivers in  Japan
3 Officially called the Koreisha mark (kōrei untensha hyōshiki), the fallen leaf mark must be displayed by drivers over 75 (and strongly recommended for those over 70) to warn other drivers of the impending danger.

Obsolete! fallen leaf mark vs JDM-Shocker

On February 1, 2011, the “Autumn leaf” (Koreisha ) symbol to indicate “aged person at the wheel” was changed to the new, 4-leafed form (Wikipedia).Japanese_Kourei_mark250
New Koreisha mark

Back in 2009 (The Mainichi / 2009 July 23) that Japanese Police Agency announced that it wanted to come up with a new design to replace the “autumn leaf” symbol which designates an elderly driver. A survey has indicated that only around half of people questioned had an idea of what it meant.

Shoshinsha mark
4Officially called the Shoshinsha mark (shoshin untensha hyōshiki), new drivers must display the green leaf mark for one year after getting their license to warn other drivers that the driver is not very skilled.

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I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

55 thoughts on “What are all these mysterious Japanese car stickers?”

  1. JDM-AS-FCK-real-decal
    I remember the first time was in Southern California and I saw many Japanese Wakaba mark (若葉マーク) green leaf stickers. I wondered why so many Californians in their mid 20s were beginner drivers.
    Then I learned the Green Leaf stickers meant the drivers were “JDM” fans but I still couldn’t understand why they wanted to be identified as beginner drivers when they were pros driving tricked-out Japanese cars. Weird.

  2. reddit.com/r/japan (self.japan) writes:
    What is the aptitude test for getting a drivers license in Japan?
    What do you have to do? What are they testing?
    I heard that one part of it is an eye exam, what else is involved?

    If you have an apparent handicap, you will be required to sit in a front seat of automobile simulator and prove you can operate the pedals, steering wheel and other controls. If you have trouble with the standard controls, you may receive a license with restrictions (hand controls, only automatic transmission, pedal extensions, etc.).

    If you are old or very feeble looking, some drivers license bureaus have a braking test that checks your reaction time.

    If you seem hard of hearing, they may test your hearing and that will be marked on your license (and you will have to display the dasai/dorky butterfly hearing mark on your car).

    If you want a 50cc motorcycle endorsement on your license but you appear to have physical handicap, the examiner with ask you to sit on a motorcycle simulator and go through the motions.

    All these “aptitude tests” are fairly lenient and should not be a worry if you already have a drivers license or have passed Japanese drivers school.
    Amusing note: The automobile simulator’s seat is Japanese sized and non-adjustable, which means a healthy sized gaijin will not fit well behind the wheel or have enough room to operate the pedals. This causes all sorts of laughter and the staff just lets you pass if you obviously have been driving for years.

  3. …If you have trouble with the standard controls, you may receive a license with restrictions…

    Perfect info!
    Thanks so much for that! :)

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