This service area has a big screen for travelers to see which areas are congested. If you want to get away for the weekend by car then leave very early - like 6 or 7AM or you will be stuck in traffic - same for going back home - either come back early or very late.
We lived in Tokyo for many years without the need for a car but when we got a house of our own that had parking space, we decided to go for one. To purchase a car in Japan, you need to show a document to prove that you have space to park the car - in our case it was the house layout plans and contract.
One can easily get around with the abundant amount of train stations all over Tokyo - Tokyo train map here to give you an idea of just how many stations.
However there are things where having the car makes life a lot easier. While there are train stations all over the place, it can be quicker by car rather than changing trains 5 times. We do a lot of shopping at Ikea and Costco and would not be able to do it without the car. Trains generally stop before 1AM - miss the last train and you have to pay for a taxi - fares triple by night!
Used to drive a bit in the UK but each time I go back I see new restrictions. Now they have something where you need to pay if you drive through the center of London or something. They do this to alleviate the congestion but am not even sure which parts it applies to.
Hong Kong and Singapore seemed to be pretty jam packed with traffic and was wondering if it was like that in your area too?
Just recalled the time when we lived in Seattle - we needed to drive just to get some milk!