Different Colours on Number Plates

What are all these vehicles with yellow number plates?


A friend of mine from New Zealand once described these as “A trolley (shopping cart) with an engine“.

You see them everywhere in Japan, especially once you are out of cities, in rural region.

They are usually quite tiny vehicles, square-ish, either 5 doors or pick-up style.

What are they?

They are called Kei Jidosha 軽自動車, that translates as “Light Vehicle

I’m pretty sure in any countries Vehicle Classification comes in various ways.

In Japan, basically passenger vehicles are classed in 2 categories by its size and the engine displacement, roughly.

Hutsu Joyosha 普通乗用車 and Kei Jidosha 軽自動車.

Hutsu Joyosha = Normal Passenger Vehicles – White Number Plate

Kei Jidosha = Light (Weight?) Vehicles – Yellow Number Plate

2 Different Classes

This is a Subaru Legacy, buried in snow. Got a white, Hutsu plate
  • Hutsu Joyosha – The length up to 4.7m, the width up to 1.7m, the height up to 2.0m and the engine up to 2000cc.
  • Kei Jidosha – (L) up to 3.4m, (W) up to 1.48m, (H) up to 2.0m and the engine up to 660cc
This is an old school Kei ute, or pick up truck, with a cool snow prowler on

So Kei 軽 vehicles are a lot smaller, you can see that by the photos I suppose.

Why so many in rural areas?

Basically because it’s cheaper to own.

  • Cheaper to buy
  • Cheaper tax
  • Cheaper petrol (gasoline)
  • Cheaper insurance
  • Actually these square box shape gives you a lot of room inside, surprisingly

Then, again, it must be same everywhere in the world but, a simple truth in life,

“The further away from cities, the more reliant on cars in everyday life”

In rural areas, one household needs to own multiple cars for everyone in the family to live a daily life, that’s why a lot of people to choose Kei Vehicles to keep the running cost down.

On the other hand, I’m born and bled in Tokyo, never needed a car, never owned nor drove until I moved to New Zealand.

Cities in Japan has such a fantastic public transport system so I never needed it. If I had to go away, I could always find someone who has a car.

So now, you have one mystery solved that has been lingering in the corner of your mind.

If you have a chance, I reccomend to give it a go for driving one of these, as long as you can actually fit your body inside, if you are like 190cm tall!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Kono Kuruma Wo UNten Shite Mitai この車を運転してみたい = I wan to try to drive this car

Keep listening to this until you’ve nailed it!

2 thoughts on “Different Colours on Number Plates

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for your comment! Yeah hear phrases might save you one day while exploring in Japan. Nothing to lose so may as well learn them I’d say. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s