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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.


- Tell a friend

53 Responses to “What are all these mysterious Japanese car stickers?”

  1. octopus Says:

    Do you guys know where i could get any of these stickers they’re pretty rad.

  2. den4 Says:

    Bobbleheads and their secret codes with their decoder rings are at work in J-land….

  3. Taro Says:

    Octopus asked:
    Do you guys know where i could get any of these stickers they’re pretty rad.

    The most popular stickers, the Green Leaf for beginner drivers and the Autumn Leaf for elderly drivers, are available via
    The Blue Shamrock sticker for the handicapped and the Butterflies-in-the-Brains Mark for the elderly are unpopular and rare. Most handicapped drivers mark their car with the wheelchair sticker (hard-of-hearing drivers seem to ignore the law about displaying the butterfly mark).

    new driver mark
    Driving Beginner’s Mark Number in stock: 9 Weight: 120 g. Price: $6.00
    Product type: Car Item (Beginners’ Mark)
    Immediately after getting their driver’s license, for the first year of driving a car in Japan, everyone must put a “Beginner’s Mark” on the front and back of your car. This yellow and green arrow is a universal symbol in Japan, meaning lacking in experience — cars with this mark you have to drive carefully around them! This is a magnetic beginner’s mark, which the Japanese stick to their car on the front and on the back in an easily seen area (this is Japanese law). You can use these on your car, or as an unusual fridge magnet, sure to cause questions about this curious marking — it might even be the start of an interesting conversation. This is magnet is also reflective so it can be seen from a distance. 4.5″ x 7″ (11 x 18 cm), this is an amusing cultural artifact from Japan!

    Senior Citizen Mark sticker
    Senior Citizen Mark (Suction Cup Type) Number in stock: 8 Weight: 60 g. Price: $3.80
    Product type: Japanese Traditional
    If you’ve ever driven a car (or a motorcycle for that matter) in Japan, you know how narrow the streets can be. And as for passing the driver’s license test… that’s another story. One thing about right-of-way in Japan is the burden of care seems to be on the passer and not the passee. Which means that if you are passing a car, or person, you should take care to let the slower moving people go at their own pace (this may be to the large population of elderly people in Japan) — as opposed to the Western ideology which is really about letting the faster people through. Japanese ’safety driving’ emblems are made specifically for new (young leaf) drivers and older/elderly (autumn leaf) drivers, both of whom should be respected on the road for going at their own pace, and also supposed to be marked for this reason. This purchase is for the ‘Kareha’ (’me’, pronoun used by older people) autumn leaf *suction cup* emblem for putting on your car that measures approx. 5 x 7.5 inches (12.5 x 19 cm). Ki wo tsukete! (take care/be careful!)

  4. Chris Says:

    Funny, clever, and useful, particularly the leaves.

  5. Avisioncame Says:

    This is great. Pictograms that aren’t so literal. Good design on the Japanese’ part.

  6. multivers Says:

    lol, very funy , and coll:)

  7. _Rachell Says:

    That’s very informative!

  8. japanese words Says:

    When you see the orange and yellow, be careful. I think they actually need to lower the age a bit to about 65 would be better than 75.

  9. zZainab cChaaban Says:

    That is interesting.

  10. Deecee501 Says:

    Really like the shamrock as I am both Irish and disabled!

  11. Max Says:

    I would love to see those on cars here in L.A. At the very least, it would humanize the drivers. We are way too used to treating other cars as mere obstacles and not people.

  12. cato Says:

    hahaha, my japanese just came back from nagasaki and bought me the green leaf one for a joke! XD i’ve had my driver’s license for over 4 years!

  13. Nemo Says:

    This is great. I LOVE the Mississippi one. How often are these created?

  14. Taro Says:

    Nemo wrote:
    This is great. I LOVE the Mississippi one. How often are these created?

    The green leaf and autumn leaf stickers are very common on Japanese roads—At least 1 in 10 cars have them as required by law. The hearing-impaired butterfly sticker has been required by law for the past year or so, but are never seen on the road. Compliance with the Japanese law must very low–no doubt the butterfly sticker is not popular with hearing-impaired.
    In some states in the US, a hearing-impaired license plate is required and in others it is optional. A wild guess would be that Mississippi requires hearing-impaired drivers to use the special license plate (since it looks so elaborate).

  15. Daveen Says:

    They look like pokemon badges..

  16. devan Says:

    these symbols though not like the one used popularly in the rest of the world are actually very metaphorical and understandable if u understand them. … in conveying a sense of nature, people relate to them in a way that touches thier inner self, the japanese do that so well in their art and now in modern graphic stickers, i admire the way they always re-invent.. yes, its easier to use an ear, or a wheelchair, but these are so real too and yet so romantic.

  17. M Rahman Says:

    great website. I find very usefuk information on japanese stickers.

  18. mister Says:

    … so God decided to place them on an island…

  19. ele Says:

    thats great i think the green leaf would be an awesome thing to do in America it may even lower our insurance bills.

  20. Daryoosh Adineh Says:

    Wow!! So, you can talk to Me, in English!!

  21. Rray Says:

    Ha, ha, I don’t agree with it all but nice none-the-less…

  22. cheapvan4sleeping Says:

    It seems as though something is missing, no?

  23. Paris Hilton Says:

    Can you recommend a decent forum or focus group to join that cover this topic. Also, I really appreciate the fact that you approach these topics from a stand point of knowledge and information instead of the typical “I think” mentality that you see so much on the internet these days.

  24. Taro Says:

    Paris Hilton asked:
    Can you recommend a decent forum?


  25. Racy Says:

    Since else has said a single thing about it, so I will just go through with it and ship you one of these cloverleaps stickers via parcel post. Call it our secret.

  26. Taro Says:

    The National Police Agency has added a new “taima” sticker shown on the bottom right, ha, ha.

    Taima leaf

  27. Sub Light Says:

    I can’t help wondering if using shamrocks as a ‘disabled’ symbol and butterflies for ‘hearing impaired’ isn’t more an attempt to keep disabilities (and the disabled) out of sight.

  28. Private Loony Rights Says:

    I’m not doubting what you say is true — but how can you prove the the shamrock car stickers mean ‘Beware of Colorblind Drunk Irish’? 

  29. pyn cin sonleli Says:

    How tall are you now?

  30. Private Rabel Lights Says:

    Def some good info in japan here – keep it coming

  31. UndeadManWalking Says:

    All of these stickers are available at the local Japanese hardware store. Mine happens to be Nafco. I’ve bought a few to bring back to the states (if I ever care enough to return). If you don’t live in Japan, good luck!

  32. Daiki Says:

    I finally know what the symbol of koreisha and wakaba mean.In Malaysia I’ve seen people sticking these symbols on the front and back of their cars and I asked myself “what’s up with these strange symbols?” I asked around but nobody have a clue, even the car owners who sticks them.They just said it is some japanese logo and they stick it for fun and because they look good. When I saw the same emblem on the character Tamama of Keroro Gunso anime…I’m determined to find the truth which led me to this site…

  33. Taro Says:

    Daiki Says:
    I finally know what the symbol of koreisha and wakaba mean

    Glad to be of help and thanks for your positive feedback.

    Maybe I ought to do another story about the lack of Japanese license plates (number plates) on overseas cars. In the USA and Japan you often see a German license plate on imported Benz cars above the regular license plate, but you never see a Japanese license plate displayed (along with a regular license) on Japanese cars outside Japan.
    (Hint: Japanese license plates belong to the Japanese Government, not the car owner. Any plate not attached to a car and not in the hands of the government is felony theft of government property.)

  34. please fcuk me in the pooped Says:

    Blah blah blah that’s what everybody says about “Pasties for Cars.”

  35. LaurelJones Says:

    The Japanese sticker looks lovely. It’s really a great idea where you will know who is driving (handicap or senior citizens or for new drivers). This is a best idea and such things really count a lot. But you need to follow such symbols and other fellow drivers which will be safer from accidents.

  36. BarryBallew Says:

    Number one reason deaf drivers haven’t installed new stickers….
    They didn’t hear about it.

  37. ttga Says:

    Bloody awful design. Using kanji would be more practical than this, particularly with the first two.

  38. loulou Says:

    Ohaiyo gozaimasu. Sumimasen kaite kudasai

  39. wakaba Says:

    i never thought that my second name was useful elsewhere; in Japan and am in Kenya.

  40. ben c Says:

    If you live in Sapporo Japan, this link will show you how to get a Japanese Drivers license:

    I was a bit late getting mine (you’re supposed to renew your license like a week after your birthday or something) I went 3 weeks after so I think maybe I had to pay extra. It cost me about 6,000 yen for everything to renew my license.

  41. Taro Says:

    Home of the original Mysterious Car Stickerscopyleft mark

    Somebody has plagiarized this post, meh, hence the new tagline above. However, in the process of looking into the plagiarism, I discovered a droll, unrelated YouTube of the “Mysterious Car Stickers” of Japan…

  42. personal HOROGRAPHY Says:

    You ask, “What are all these mysterious Japanese car stickers?” and you got it have right for a horographer. I mean, what time is it really?

  43. Mitsubishi Philippines Says:

    This kind of system (sticker identification) should be implemented here in the Philippines. Actually even the state/ prefecture marks on license plate would be useful for managing Philippine Transportation.

  44. Taro Says:

    new driver mark

    I just discovered a totally wacked, foreign meaning for the Japanese “green leaf” sticker (R) that is used in Japan to warn of new, unskilled drivers.

    JDM love stickers
    Buy the stickers now.

    An odd explanation of how Japan’s the car-sticker-of-shame for noob drivers, “green leaf” sticker, is somehow cool overseas…

    A while back, a customer asked, “What is the story with these JDM badges? What do they mean, where do they come from?”
    To which I responded, “It all started a long time ago in a place far far away. Like many neat things, the Wakaba badge originated in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. New drivers were required to don this badge on their car to warn other drivers that they were new to the road.
    Soon, import enthusiasts in other countries began to use this badge as a sign that they were a JDM [Japanese Domestic Market] enthusiast, which means they are particularly interested in the auto parts and car culture of Japan
    — : Custom JDM Badges, Euro Badges, Muscle Badges and more

  45. The Penguin Says:

    I should state that you can observe a lot just by watching. If I could be a bird I think I’d be a Pengu1n because then I could walk around on two feet with a lot of other guys like me.

  46. E1mira Says:

    Surprising to think of s0mething like that.

  47. deBarbie Says:

    ӏ aсtually shareԁ your poѕting with ѕome pals.
    If you have haԁ а small rіsе in guеѕts it might be from us, wаs helpful to us. Thanks.

  48. cheapsigner Says:

    Dats a dead-on composed article about car stickers and Japanese panda murder! In fact it was a funny account of it. Really enjoyed reading through.

  49. Sufia Says:

    Do you know where i can get this in tokyo?

  50. Taro 3Yen Says:

    Sufia wrote:
    Do you know where i can get this in tokyo?

    Anywhere in Japan you can buy these Japanese car stickers at major car parts centers such as AUTOBACS or YELLOW HAT.


  51. Taro 3Yen Says:

    JDM Shocker
    Two in the intake

    and one up the exhaust

    Details at:

  52. Yuumi via email Says:

    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.

  53. LouieLouie Says:

    What are all these mysterio Japanese car stickers?
    Love it!

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