Japan is as much about the experience of being there, in my moment, as it is about the wide array of amazing Japan destinations. The trains and buses will get you wherever you want to go, quickly, safely and affordably. The views are virtually non-existent. If you had any plans of burning rubber from Tokyo to Osaka, for example, shelve them and take the shink (or a bus) instead. While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. More > Times Car Rental . I decided to hire the cars from Orix Rent-A-Car. Ask whether you run on “regular” or another kind of fuel before you leave the rental car office; “regular” refers to regular unleaded petrol, “hai-oku” is premium unleaded, and “keiyu” is diesel. We like this car hire site for Japan because it’s pretty easy to use, and you can complete your entire booking in English. The other thing you’ll need to hire a car in Japan is a credit card. What You Need to Know Before Renting a Car in Japan. For the most part, you probably won’t need to rent a car in Japan—especially not in Tokyo. What you need to know for before and after your arrival in Japan. For more detailed … It was really simple to reserve a car as their website is in English and so is all the confirmation details. Japan's "Go To Eat" Campaign: What You Need to Know, Guide to Choosing an Internet Service Provider in Tokyo, Comparing Long-Term Pocket Wifi Contracts in Japan, 10,000 Yen City Escape Challenge: Tokyo to Kanazawa, Bargain JR East 3-Day 2020 Rail Pass For Foreign Residents, Visa Applications and Extensions, and Entry into Japan During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Not so fast! While getting out of Tokyo itself (if you opt for city pick-up) might be a little hair-raising, this is actually a great way to get around the country: you can rent a budget camper van to get out of the hotels and off that beaten track that hipsters seem to hate so much. Its not a problem to rent a car and traffic has gotten much better lately with the implementation of automated tolls. Not all of them are intuitive. Continue reading to learn how to rent a car in Japan—and why you might not want to do so, in the end. The trains and buses will get you wherever you want to go, quickly, safely and affordably. There are a host of car rental companies to choose from in Japan. Once you have it, you can drive for a year after arriving in Japan. Need help planning your trip to Japan? Is your country on the list? If you happen to live on the west coast of the US, the cost to ship should be around $2000 USD. They also have some of the world’s slowest speed limits—70 km/h is not uncommon, even on expressways. I've considered renting a car in Japan. It all depends on what sort of wheels you’re after and how many people you need to pack into the back. 2 Drawbacks of Renting a Car in Japan. While you can indeed do some lovely driving in Hokkaido and Okinawa, driving in much of the rest of Japan means rolling, relatively slowly (think 80-100km/h) along endless, walled highways. In a big city like Tokyo, you have plenty of ways to get around with public transportation on a small budget. Between the cost of the rental car, insurance and gas alone, you’re looking at a minimum of ¥10,000 per day, and that’s a somewhat optimistic figure. Some of the articles on this site contain affiliate links. Neon-bathed streets and Michelin-starred eats, Travel back in time to Japan's ancient capital, A world of Japanese street food starts here, Climb Japan's iconic peak, or just admire its beauty, Enjoy Japan’s seasons in the “Kyoto of the North”, Year-round adventure in Japan’s great, white north, Flowery castles, volcanic lakes and snow monsters, Discover Japan’s most underrated, unexplored island, Trek the trails of Japan’s ultimate hiking paradise, Tropical paradise a short flight from Tokyo. That’s certainly how I felt before the first time I got behind the wheel in Japan, in Hokkaido a few summers ago. Last autumn, for example, when I was in Kanazawa taking in the colorful leaves, I decided to make a day trip to Maruoka Castle. And this was just me! Toyota hire cars are plentiful. Ordering food was sometimes an issue as very few restaurants had … That said, there are some occasions when renting a car in Japan is the easiest (or only) way of getting from Point A to Point B. Just take it. If you’re fixated on the road (and make no mistake, you should be if you’re behind the wheel! The costs for a car rental here in Japan depend on the type of car you’ll get and the number of people you’ll have in your ride. But mostly, driving between big cities is a drag. However, rental cars for foreigners are not very developed in Japan, for several reasons. Before roaring off, it’s worth noting that while all rental contracts carry built-in basic insurance, this doesn’t necessarily cover you 100% in the event of an accident. Last updated in August, 2020. Also, beware of blinkers and wipers commands which are reversed too. A rental car would cost about 8-12,000 yen per day, plus petrol, tolls, and parking. Should you rent a car in Japan? More > Orix. Rent a Car accompagne aussi les professionnels avec des solutions de location longue durée, idéales pour les chauffeurs indépendants et les VTC à la recherche d'un véhicule confortable et prestigieux. First of all, they drive on the left side with mostly automatic gearbox cars. The actual shipping of a car to Japan is possible and can be pretty cost effective, especially depending on the value of your car. How far off Japan's beaten path do you dare stray? It’s up to you if you want to upgrade the insurance. I hope you travel light, or aren’t with a big group. To rent and drive in Japan you do not need to be able to speak Japanese. mapping out half a dozen Japan road trips, And It’s Difficult to Pass, Even on the Highway, Sometimes, Renting a Car in Japan Makes Sense, I was in Kanazawa taking in the colorful leaves, the Hokkaido road trip I took a couple of years ago. The price is high, but not prohibitively (or surprisingly) so. If your home country is a signatory of the Geneva Convention of 1949, this is your only option if you want to rent a car in Japan. While some Japanese-language ability will make the collection and drop-off of the rental car easier, it’s not essential. Before you start off or when you return the car, a staff member will sometimes offer you a pack of tissues or a can of (usually cold) coffee as a token gift. If you are curious you can check live traffic information for Car Rental; Of these, I think I prefer Tocoo! Most people renting cars in Japan will be required to have an International Driving Permit, or ‘IDP’ for short. This can be quite an intimidating thing to do if it’s your first time driving in Japan; to make it easier, head for a regular, staffed gas station rather than a self-service joint. Book now! Among other restrictions, you’ll need to have the international drivers license Japan requires before getting behind the wheel in Japan. You can get the translation done through the Japan Automobile Federation or (in some cases) your local embassy or consulate. If you opt to use an ETC card, you can proceed through toll gates without stopping, and just pay the rental office when you return the car. Follow our budget Tokyo to Kanazawa itinerary without missing all the best sights! This rental car booking agency will be happy to help, though. It’s The Great Snoopy Museum, Charlie Brown, Exploring Toyosu—Tokyo's Revitalized Fish Market, Visiting Okunoshima - Japan's Famous Rabbit Island, Tokyo Escapes: A Winter Camper Van Adventure in Nagano, Guide to Arriving in Japan During COVID-19. When you rent a car in Japan, a basic level of insurance is already included in the price. 2.4 And It’s Difficult to Pass, Even on the Highway. The nuts-and-bolts of the process seem to back this up. However, before you go mapping out half a dozen Japan road trips to take over the next few years, allow me to spill a little cold water on you. We don't endorse any of the companies we link to but we are selective in terms of the companies that we choose. 2.5 Japanese Rental Cars … Oh, and you need to be over 18. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. The tolls, well, take their toll on your bank balance (seriously, they can be very steep). Maybe not, it turns out. Make sure to commission a custom Japan itinerary if you need help planning your Japan road trip. Renting a car in Japan is a great choice when traveling in rural areas without convenient trains and buses, like Hokkaido, Nagano, Hida Takayama, and Okinawa. With the exception of a few European countries like Germany and Belgium, whose citizens may submit their domestic driving license with an official Japanese translation, it is essential to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to rent a car in Japan. Questions or comments about this article? It's like a trip to Japan every week, right in your inbox! When you’re on your way to bring the car back, be sure to stop off at a gas (petrol) station (“gasorin sutando” in Japanese) and fill up. If you’re asking yourself “Should I rent a car in Japan?” ask if the “I” you speak of is just yourself, or if you’ll be able to spread the cost out among several people. Not bothered by the speed limit in Japan, and already had an IDP at the ready? If you have an international driver's license, you might want to head to a car rental stand and see what kind of vehicles are waiting for you. Say “mantan de onegai shimasu” for a full tank of whatever it is you need. There are many rental car companies in Japan, and these are the ones we have rented from before: Orix Rent-a-Car; Times Car Rental; Tocoo! You might want to take a trip to the rurals, for example, or do a run to the nearest (never very … Like what you're reading? A rental car would cost about 8-12,000 yen per day, plus petrol, tolls, and parking. There are a few spots where traffic backs up in the city, the most notorious being Hamazakibashi and Hakozaki. Make sure to get the multi-language GPS that support on your comfortable language. Need help planning your road trip around Japan? It is usually not possible to obtain one after already arriving. Budget and higher-end cars are available, with plenty of pick-up and drop-off options around major airports and train stations. … Here are some other scenarios that can make renting a car in Japan necessary: Keep in mind that you will rarely rent a car in Japan for the entirety of any trip, so even if you plan to drive a few days (as I did in the Oki Islands, for example, during my trip to the San’in region), you might still need to buy a Japan Rail Pass, in addition to renting cars in Japan. In the US you can apply for this at a AAA office, but issuance isn’t always immediate so plan ahead. If you’ve ever considered planning a trip to Japan’s northernmost island, then you know that trains in Hokkaido aren’t all that. Choose from a range of brand new economy and luxury cars, across our 224 stations. Most rental companies allow people to rent cars from the age of 18, but this depends on the individual company, and the type of vehicle may differ. Oh, and before driving anywhere, it pays to familiarize yourself with Japanese road signs. With regards to driving this was not a problem at all. We cover all the basics including things to do in Tokyo, Some folks get a bee in their beatnik bonnet about doing the road trip of their dreams in Japan. Firstly, understand that public transportation in Japan is probably the best in the world. the most because it’s in fact not a rental car company, but a website that aggregates from all the different rental companies out there. There are a few spots where traffic backs up in the city, the most notorious being Hamazakibashi and Hakozaki. See the cheapest, fastest and most convenient options for long-term connectivity. While you can rent a car in Tokyo, it isn’t recommended unless you need to transport something big, or are traveling in a group from Tokyo to elsewhere in the country, e.g. To find out what qualifies as a valid driver’s license, read on… On its head, the idea of renting a car in Japan might seem like a good one, especially if you’re traveling in a rural part of the country, or with enough people that the cost is similar to going by train or bus. If you’re looking to rent a camper van in Japan, we recommend Dream Drive Japan. Sponsored posts are clearly labeled with a "Sponsored" tag. More > JR Eki Rent-a-Car. Requirements To Rent A Car In Japan: Driver’s License. If you don’t speak Japanese you might be best off with trying to hire via one of the major car rental companies directly as they may have more English help available. A lot of the island is not connected by any public transportation. Information—and inspiration—for all your trips to Japan. For example, when driving in Okinawa (or any other island group, for that matter), you are usually confined to just one island. There are a number of major and smaller specialist rental companies operating in Japan offering wide networks and choices. Renting a car in Japan comes with a pretty long list of caveats! First off, let’s take a look at your driver’s license. AVIS Rent a Car Online Reservation: At AVIS Rent a Car, we bring you comfort to your travels in Japan. Bigger and fancier rental cars cost JPY 1,500 – 6,000 more than the compact ones. There's still plenty of time to take advantage of this special discount deal! I also wanted to have the cars delivered to myhotel and picked up from the hotel again. Finding the Right Travel Insurance for Japan, Sustainable Travel in Japan: From Sushi to Single-use Plastic, compare car rental options on Web-Rentacar. You can plan the itinerary without relying on anything else. The majority of rental cars come with multilingual GPS systems. Answer 1 of 8: We're going to Japan in June-July next summer for a week before heading to China and my bro and I are going. If you can’t or don’t want to drive, you can always take a taxi or use one of the various JR Passes for your escapades. 2.1 Driving in Japan is Expensive. 2.3 Japanese People Drive Slowly. This especially the case in more rural areas such as Akan and Shiretoko. We provide services in over 165 countries. Renting a car in Japan can greatly expand your range of activities during your vacation. If you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued in line with the Geneva Convention, you’ll be able to rent a car in Japan—but not from all companies (lookin’ at you, Niko-Niko). Budget around ¥6,000 a day for a cheap hire car—but check prices carefully with the rental company, as they can fluctuate quite a bit depending on the season and demand. With over 750,000 readers each month, Tokyo Cheapo is the site of choice for value hunters who want their yen to go further in Tokyo. Bigger and fancier cars usually cost ¥1,500–¥6,000 more. Being able to rent a car in Japan is essential if you’re going outside the city of Naha. 1 Reasons for Renting a Car in Japan. Consider your cheapo self cautioned! You should exercise careful judgement with any online purchase. Rental car insurance. Most car rental in Japan comes with a GPS navigation system. Which would be no big deal, if it was possible to overtake people on Japanese roads. It will make your life on the southern islands much easier. If you’re from Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Monaco or Taiwan, you won’t be able to do the IDP thing, but can use an official Japanese translation of your license instead. To find why we started this site, check out the Tokyo Cheapo Manifesto. Whether due to low speed limits and narrow roads throughout Japan, or because of the relatively high cost of doing so, you should only get a Japanese rental car if it’s the only way you can see a certain part of the country—it sometimes is, to be fair. Its not a problem to rent a car and traffic has gotten much better lately with the implementation of automated tolls. If you want to contribute to or sponsor Tokyo Cheapo, get in touch. To rent a car in Japan, you need to have a driver’s license. You can take the Shinkansen or a plane to the station or airport nearest your destination, then hop into your hire car and zoom around without worrying about missing the only bus of the day. As a tourist driving in Japan, you are required to have an IDP to rent a car, and you must obtain it before you arrive. 1. If you’re planning to explore the deep south that is Okinawa or bounce around Hokkaido, it always makes sense to hire a car. A few car rental offices are prepared to do the refueling for you upon the return of the ride, but generally the responsibility is with the driver. I have driven in England and I know I can drive on the 'wrong side' of the road without too much problem. They offer more than 10 car rental brands, including familiar names like Budget and Nissan Rent a Car. However, in addition to the fact that Japan traffic rules are extremely strict, most Japanese roads (again, even expressways) feature one lane on each side—in some places, it’s just one land period! Telephone number or map code can be use to find your destination. Do it now. On the plus side, Japan has some of the world’s safest roads. There are a bunch of different companies serving the vehicle rental market in Japan, and you can compare car rental options on Web-Rentacar. That said, there are some occasions when renting a car in Japan is the easiest (or only) way of getting from Point A to Point B. Find out how to avoid transaction fees and get the best rates. My name is Robert Schrader, and I'm a Japan travel expert with nearly a decade of experience under my belt. If you are traveling as a couple, a family or a group, the value proposition of Japan car rental increases. If you purchase from or sign up with some companies we link to, we will be compensated. The author may post again if desired.Posts on the Tripadvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Of course, if you happen to have a Japanese driving license, that works too. This might request a double adaptation time which can slow down some everyday drivers, accustomed to drive on right side with manual gearbox cars. popping down to see the legendary Fuji Rock Festival (see the blurb about camper vans below). Post first published in April, 2018. Ditto much of the countryside in the rest of Japan. Rent a car in Japan and find great deals with Europcar. 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