ペーパードライバー (pēpā doraibā) is a unique ‘Japlish’ (Japanese English) word that literally means ‘paper driver’. It indicates inexperienced drivers who haven’t driven for many years or never since they got their driver’s license. They are called ‘paper drivers’ because their driver’s license is utterly useless and nothing but paper (, or a plastic card nowadays).
This word is often used to describe one’s inability to drive a car. For instance, people often describe themselves as ‘paper drivers’ to express their concerns about driving, or to make an excuse for not driving by saying, ‘Oh sorry, I can’t drive… because I’m a ‘”paper driver”‘.
Paper Drivers in Japan
In Japan, there are a great number of ‘paper drivers’, especially in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka. This is because those cities offer highly developed railway systems that can take you everywhere, and the cost of owning a car is very high due to the limited land space. For instance, it can cost up to 1100 yen (about 10 USD) to park a car only for 30 minutes in Ginza, one of the most luxurious areas in Tokyo.
Because I’m a ‘paper driver’, I have to practice driving before travelling to Okinawa.
(Note) The public transportation system in Okinawa is not as developed as in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka. Therefore, it is common for ‘paper drivers’ to practice driving before going to Okinawa.