Image of Traveling on the Metropolitan Expressway

Driving on the Metropolitan Expressway

Using the Metropolitan Expressway for the first time

The Metropolitan Expressway has systems not found on other highways. Here is some background and useful information to make your first driving experience on the Metropolitan Expressway safe and smooth.

Confirm the route first

As the Metropolitan Expressway is a radial highway, there may be multiple routes for reaching the target exit. The real-time route search is convenient for choosing the optimal route. In addition, drivers are provided clear guidance on information such as the location of forks in the road by road signs and boards, but first-time drivers can simulate the drive in advance with a video for more reassurance.

Credit cards cannot be used for paying road tolls

Metropolitan Expressway tolls can only be paid with cash or ETC card. Please note that credit cards are not accepted. There are stores in service areas which accept credit cards. Please verify accepted credit cards at the front of the store.

Credit cards can not be used for paying tolls
The required road toll can be looked up in advance

Metropolitan Expressway tolls vary based on the distance from start point to destination. In addition, fees for the same route vary according to vehicle classification and payment method, and discounts may apply. You can look up the road toll based on the route and toll guide. Especially drivers who plan to pay with cash should check in advance for smooth payment at the toll gate.

Traffic information is always available

Traffic congestion may occur due to peak hours and accidents. The Metropolitan Expressway's real-time map transmits the latest traffic information in real-time on the Metropolitan Expressway. Use it to check traffic on the planned route.

Check road construction and traffic restrictions

Information on road construction and traffic restrictions which cause traffic jams is published. Check the planned route before driving.
*Construction and restrictions may change without notice.

Rules for driving in Japan

There are basic traffic rules to follow when driving a car in Japan. Before traveling on the Metropolitan Expressway, please check the following basic rules.

You must have a driver's license

In order to drive in Japan, you must obtain an approved driver's license and carry it at all times while driving. The following three types of driver's licenses are recognized in Japan.

  1. 1. Japanese driver's license
  2. 2. International driver's license (valid for one year from arrival in Japan)
  3. 3. Driver's license with Japanese translation issued by the country/region designated by Japan (valid for one year from arrival in Japan)
Driving after intoxication of alcohol or certain drugs in prohibited

Driving after the intoxication of alcohol and drugs which numbs the brain, body or senses may cause serious accidents, and is subject to harsh punishments.

Driving after intoxication of alcohol or certain drugs in prohibited
Driving after ingestion of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs and sleep induction drugs is strictly prohibited.
You must wear a seat belt at all times

The driver and all passengers must wear a seat belt whilst traveling by car. Violation of the rule on expressways is subject to penalties.

You must wear a seat belt at all times
Using a child seat for children under the age of 6

Using a child seat while driving a car with an infant under the age of 6 is a general rule. Driving without a child seat may be subject to penalties. Please also be sure to mount the child seat on the back seat of the car.

Traveling on the left side

In Japan, traveling on the left side is a general rule. Please drive on the left lane, even if there is no lane marks. However, it is not required to follow this rule for one-way roads.

Traveling on the left side
Priority for pedestrians

In Japan, pedestrians take priority over cars. If a pedestrian is about to cross a pedestrian crossing with no signal, the car should stop and allow the pedestrian to pass through.

Priority for pedestrians

What to know before driving on the Metropolitan Expressway

The Metropolitan Expressway is a car-only highway without traffic lights. It was built in dense urban areas using public land. Its structure therefore has many curves and the flow of traffic differs in some aspects from other highways. We are making unique efforts to ensure its safe use by customers.

Minimum speed/Maximum speed

Unlike other highways, the Metropolitan Expressway does not have an established minimum speed. The maximum speed is generally 60 km/h. However, there are some stretches which allow driving at 80 km/h.

Minimum speed/Maximum speed
Lane categories

Unlike other highways, the Metropolitan Expressway does not have established lane categories such as cruising lanes and overtaking lanes. Vehicles drive in the lane appropriate for the next branch. However, note that there are some spots where lane changes are not allowed.

Lane categories
Stopping and parking prohibited

Parking and stopping your vehicle is prohibited except in the following situations.

  1. 1. Temporarily stopping to follow police orders or to avoid danger.
  2. 2. Stopping or parking in service areas or parking areas.
  3. 3. Stopping to pay a toll.
  4. 4. Being forced to stop or park on the road shoulder due to vehicle trouble. Driving on the shoulder of the road is prohibited.
Stopping and parking prohibited
Vehicle trouble/Accident/Earthquake

What should you do if you have vehicle trouble while driving on the Metropolitan Expressway? What if an accident occurs? What if there is an earthquake? Driving accidents are best avoided, but sometimes it's out of the driver's control. It's important to know how to act in these potential situations. ⇒ Emergency response

Signs on the highway - 1. Direction signs

Information on entrances, exits, road service facilities, etc. are provided by green signs.

Entrance direction sign

Entrance direction sign

Indicates the distance to a Metropolitan Expressway entrance at key locations of normal roads. Drivers are given the entrance name/number, as well as the general direction after entering the expressway, using clear place names and route numbers.

Entrance indicator

Entrance indicator

Displays an entrance location for the Metropolitan Expressway. Drivers are given the entrance name/number, as well as the general direction after entering the expressway, using clear place names and route numbers.

Upcoming fork indicator

Upcoming fork indicator

Indicates to the driver how the junction forks using arrow symbols. Displays route numbers and place names using clear names along the arrow symbols.

Fork indicator

Fork indicator

Displayed at Metropolitan Expressway junctions as a last check for drivers.

Upcoming exit indicator

Upcoming exit indicator

Displayed on the Metropolitan Expressway to alert drivers of a nearby exit (usually installed at three places approaching the exit).

Exit indicator

Exit indicator

Displayed on the Metropolitan Expressway as a last check for drivers (usually displays the name of the next exit or the connecting route name).

Signs on the highway - 2. Congestion zone sign

A simple diagram information board on traffic conditions is installed before a junction that splits into multiple routes.

A simple diagram information board on traffic conditions is installed before a junction that splits into multiple routes. Image of Information board display
Signs on the highway - 3. Road information board

Displays entrance restriction details (open/closed), and indicates the required time to key locations using the Metropolitan Expressway, as well as the traffic conditions.

Displays entrance restriction details (open/closed), and indicates the required time to key locations using the Metropolitan Expressway, as well as the traffic conditions. Image of Information board display
Signs on the highway - 4. Electronic information sign

Displays both traffic information and traffic trends with symbols.

Text information board (at entry point)

Text information board (at entry point)

Text information boards installed before entry points notify drivers about closure conditions at the entry point and traffic information for the Metropolitan Expressway.

Text information board (at JCT)

Text information board (at JCT)

Text information boards installed before junctions notify drivers by text about traffic information such as congestion on the route ahead of the junction and required times, as well as safety information.

Text information board (at exit point)

Text information board (at exit point)

Text information boards installed before exits inform drivers by text about traffic information such as congestion on the route ahead and required times, as well as safety information.

Tunnel alert board

Tunnel alert board

Tunnel alert boards installed before tunnel entry points notify drivers about information such as fires and accidents inside the tunnel.

Text information board (simple diagram display)

Text information board (simple diagram display)

Text information boards inside the Yamanote Tunnel notify drivers of their vehicle's travel position and incident-affected zones with "simple diagrams (audiovisual)". Information may not be displayed depending on traffic conditions.

Signs on the highway - 5. Required time indicator

At some places on the Metropolitan Expressway or near entrances, three types of "required time indicator" are installed which display the "required time to key locations" to assist in choosing a route.

Route comparison type

Route comparison type

Displays the required time compared by route from locations where it is installed to heavily used (passage) major sites.

Major site type

Major site type

Displays the required time from locations where it is installed to heavily used exit points and junctions.

Normal road comparison type

Local road comparison type

Displays the required time to major sites if the Metropolitan Expressway is used and if normal roads are used.

Special use of hazard lights

The cars in front may turn on their hazard lamps at the same time, when driving on the highway. This signal informs vehicles in the rear of a traffic jam forming. Since vehicles on the highway usually slow down with just engine braking, the brake lights do not turn on, making it hard for vehicles in the rear to know when a vehicle is slowing down. Turning on the hazard light informs vehicles in the rear of a traffic jam, encouraging them to slow down early.