Japanese car stickers and their meanings

japanese car stickers

Did you know that there is an easy way to tell the status of a Japanese driver? There are a few Japanese car stickers that have various meanings which can give you some insight into the driver in front or to the side of you. Here are the most common stickers you will see displayed on cars in Japan. Can you guess what they mean without reading the answer?

Japanese car stickers: Beginner mark

japanese car sticker beginner sticker
japanese beginner mark japanese car 1

This is a really neat symbol to represent a beginner. When a person earns his or her first license, it is required by law to stick the sticker on the car. A person must keep it on his/her car for a year before it can be removed.

The beginner symbol is not restricted to cars, either. It can be seen on documents and websites. For example, Netoff, a used media and book seller, features the icon on the left side of the page.

This is actually really thoughtful and a great way to say, “Hey, I’m new on the road, so please give me a break if I’m slow or make mistakes.”

Elderly sticker
japanese elderly car sticker 1

Nothing too complicated here. The elderly sign means the driver is old in age and may drive slow or simply aggravate you. This sign won’t do anything to solve accidents or bad drivers, but it does at least let others know that the person is old and requires more patience than a younger driver. It is not required to post this on a car, but it is recommended for drivers that are 70 years or older.

There’s some funny history behind this symbol. At first, it was in the shape of a tear drop. Some people felt this was prejudiced against the elderly and came off negative. I can understand why it was changed because when I first saw it I also realized the tear drop shape and felt it was a bit twisted.

japanese elderly car sticker 2

The logo has since been redesigned and you will most likely see the new clover shaped elderly sign in use on the road.

japanese elderly driver

The one thing you want to watch out for is this rare occurrence:

japanese beginner elderly driver

If you see this combination, my best advice is to find a different path/road and avoid tangling with this car.

Handicap sticker

japanese handicap symbol
japanese handicap car

This sign consists of a white clover surrounded by blue. I think it looks really nice and people can know right away that the driver/passenger in the car has some sort of disability. You might be wondering why the symbol of a person in a wheelchair was not used. There are many people that have disabilities that do not involve being in a wheelchair, so it was thought that a more neutral design would include a wider range of disabilities better.

Baby in car sticker

japanese baby in car sticker
japanese baby in car stickers 1
japanese baby in car stickers 2

I was really surprised when I first started seeing these baby messages on car windows. They are almost always in English with some sort of clipart featuring a baby or a mother with a baby.

Hearing Impaired sticker

japanese deaf sign

I didn’t even know about this symbol, but it happened to come up when I was looking for images relating to the other symbols, so I thought I would mention it. This symbol represents people with hearing impairments, but I’m not sure what it has to do with a butterfly. Maybe butterflies are quiet, so it represents the silence that people with impairments hear? Who knows. I have never come across a car with this sticker, but I’ll be on the look out from now on.

Final Thoughts on Japanese car stickers

I didn’t know about any of these Japanese car stickers until I started living in Japan. They’re actually really neat and I enjoy seeing them on other people’s cars. What do you think? Are they useful or pointless?

If you’re interested in Japanese cars or other things of that nature, don’t forget to check out my other post on “embarrassing to look at cars” also known as “itasha” in Japanese.

4 thoughts on “Japanese car stickers and their meanings”

  1. Great write-up! The hearing impaired sticker is a pair of ears stylized to look like something cute/positive (a butterfly).

    • Thanks for the comment! I don’t know which one you want to buy, but you could try searching Amazon.co.jp for “初心者マーク” (Beginner’s mark) and see if any will ship internationally.


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