Seeing as how last week's posts covered the ins and outs of finding cheap gas, I figured I might as well introduce you all to another one of my favorite websites,

While this site won't guide you to the cheapest gas stand, it does provide an interesting look at petroleum prices throughout Japan. And make no mistake, the difference between prefectures can be very pronounced.

Oil-stat offers several interesting data tables updated daily, including the price of regular gas (regyuraa レギュラー), high octane gas (haioku ハイオク), desiel (keiyu 軽油), kerosene sold at stores (toyu tento 灯油 店頭), and delivery kerosene (toyu haitatsu 灯油配達).

Unlike most Japanese websites, Oil-stat is pretty easy on the eyes and simple to navigate. Each section breaks down the trend of gas prices nationally as well as ranking prefecture gas prices from cheap to most expensive. The graphs provided are interactive and let you trace the price fluctuations of gas over the course of a year or year and a half. The individual prefecture rankings also gives you access to line graphs that show your prefecture's cheapness ranking and comparisons between the national average and local prices.

The best part is that all this info is free and its updated fairly regularly straight from the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Natural Resource and Energy Office. Therefore you don't have to worry about dubiously accurate crowd sourced info.

Why Do Gas Prices Differ So Much?
My prefecture (Nagano) is almost always dead last in the cheapness rankings when it comes to petroleum products. On the other hand, when I go off to Osaka or Kobe I find that gas is anywhere between 5-10 yen cheaper per litter. In a country that prides itself on homogeneity, why are gas prices anything but?

The most obvious being transportation costs. Almost all gas is transported from port to pump by lorries and tanker trucks. Gas delivery ports are almost always on the Pacific ocean side of Japan and, despite being a narrow country, it can be quite a hassle to get highly flammable substances from one side to the other. Distance from the refinery port to the pump is probably the biggest determining factor for price variances.

When you see this sign, expect your
fill-ups to cost much more

Also, not from where I live there is a very long highway tunnel that is designated a no-go for trucks carrying hazardous materials (kikenbutsu sekisai sharyo kinshi 危険物積載車両禁止), which includes gasoline products. That means all trucks carrying gas must get off the high way, navigate a bunch of unpleasant mountain roads and then get back on again at the entrance near the end of the tunnel. Not surprisingly, this hassle is reflected in the local gas prices.

However, some out of the way places like Okinawa have oddly low gas prices considering their location. In the case of Okinawa , this probably has to do with government subsidies due to the high poverty rate in the prefecture (and also a backhanded bribe for hosting US military bases). Believe it or not even things like mandatory car insurance and NHK broadcast fees are reduced or subsidised in Okinawa.

Have any other petrol related info? If so, let us know in the comments!

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