Tokyo's "coin parking lots"

Small surface parking lots with automated payment machines are a striking feature of Japanese cities. 

In May 2010 I wrote about these at Reinventing Urban Transport. 
For the next week or two I will be reposting a few more parking posts from over there. New original posts are coming too.   

Here are the key parts of my May 2010 post: Tokyo's coin parking lots

Park a car at a coin-operated parking facility and a metal plate automatically rises to trap the vehicle (see photo below). Later, you pay into the machine (with coins, notes or prepaid card) to release the vehicle. No staff required on site.

The photos above are of the same lot in Ueno (central Tokyo). Daytime price: 200 yen for 20 minutes (around US6 per hour) which seems to be the norm in inner Tokyo.

Coin parking is a common use of small vacant lots. And Japanese cities have many small vacant lots (especially since the 1990 property crash).

Some coin-operated parking lots are VERY small.
This one has room for just one car! 
In this case, someone found it too tempting to park for free at the alleyway entrance, rather than pay 100 yen per 10 minutes. 

Vacant lot parking has some good points but can be deeply problematic too. I will say more on the policy angles some other time.


  1. Could someone defeat this with a couple pairs of jackstands welded together to form an impromptu ramp?

  2. @EngineerScotty: I guess cheating is possible. But you would probably not get away with it many times before getting caught. I don't recall video surveillance but there might be cameras that I didn't notice. And if too many people took up your suggestion then cameras would appear in no time I guess.

  3. I wouldn't call it a "suggestion", and would be astonished if it hasn't already been thought of. No doubt you've seen the video of the Beijing motorist who carries around a parking place in her trunk (a pavement-colored mat which contains markings indicating legal parking, which is rolled up against a curve and driven over).

  4. You can see in all of those photos that there is a camera looking down on these parking spaces. So the main stop is the gadget on the ground, and if that doesn't stop You then there's a camera looking down on You... I was wondering what would stop people with Landcruisers from just driving over the stopper on the ground.

  5. Japanese people are very civilized. The embarassment that would result from being caught is incomprehensible to most cultures.


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