We all know Japan has 47 prefectures (todofuken, 都道府県) and each prefecture has its own culture, cuisine and characteristics. For instance, Kumamoto is known for Kumamon (the bear) while Kyoto is associated with old temples and the thousand torii.
Last year, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) introduced the idea of “moving advertisements” as one of the measures to promote tourism in Japan. In 2017, we saw special license plates for the Rugby World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. From October 2018, you can buy unique license plates that show the pride of 41 regions. Curious to see the designs?
Current 41 regions
Divided into broader areas of Japan like Kanto, Kansai, Tohoku, Hokuriku, as of now, there is no new license plate for Okinawa and Hokkaido. Two license plates depicting Mt. Fuji, one from Yamanashi and from Shizuoka, have been introduced.
How to get a new license plate
The first row shows plain number plates. The white ones for private use cars, green ones for business use and yellow ones for private mini cars or small-sized cars.
To obtain one of the colorful plates, all you need to do is make a minimum donation of 1000 yen. These proceeds go towards improving transport and promoting tourism.
In case you don’t wish to pay any money, you get a black and white plate with the same design as seen in the last row.
Let’s check out what you can find on these license plates.
Animals and mascots
Everyone associates Kumamoto with the beloved bear, Kumamon. For those who have been to Nara, you will know that Todaiji is famous for its deer and feeding deer is one of the most popular activities in Nara. It’s only apt to have these on the license plates.
Want to know what more to do in Nara, check the link below!
World Heritage Sites Nara
Mt. Fuji is a symbol of Japan and is considered to be sacred. Since the base of the mountains spreads across two prefectures, Mt. Fuji gets imprinted on two license plates: the first one belongs to Fujiyoshida city in Yamanashi with one of Hokusai’s Thirty Six Views of Mt. Fuji and the second one is from Shizuoka of Mt. Fuji and the rice fields.
The annual climbing season for Mt. Fuji begins around early July and finishes around early September. Confused on how to go about planning a trip to Mt. Fuji, check all you need to know about climbing Mt. Fuji.
The other mountain you see is Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, in Kagoshima.
Architecture and Fireworks
Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in Japan and Nagasaki is also famous for its churches! Nagasaki’s two license plates (Nagasaki and Sasebo) use the same pattern as seen on the stained glass windows in churches.
To find out more about what you can do in Nagasaki, check Sightseeing in Nagasaki.
Watching firework displays are synonymous with summer in Japan and two regions have fireworks on their license plates. Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition and the Nagaoka Fireworks Festival are two of the three major firework displays in Japan.
Kyoto is known for its heritage sites, so you see the five-storied pagoda (Toji), Amanoshashidate, one of the top three scenic spots in Japan, with a flower pattern are on the plate for Kyoto.
Tottori Prefecture has the only sand dunes in Japan and is known for its pears, both featured on the plate.
Find out more on the Sand Dunes.
Narita has an airplane on its plate! This is no surprise as most people coming to Tokyo, use either Narita or Haneda airport.
By 2020, there will be an addition of 17 more number plates! Can you guess what will be one each of these plates?
Check out all the license plates for 41 regions: