Renting a car in Japan is slightly easier than you may think and can provide a far more thrilling experience. Driving your own vehicle provides visitors with the freedom to explore as much as they wish and see places that are less frequented by tourists. It is also a far more affordable option than using trains.
How to Rent a Car in Japan
In order to rent a car in Japan, foreign nationals require an International Driving Permit. These can be obtained for a small fee from your country of residence and are valid for one year. For those countries who do not offer permits, drivers will be expected to obtain a Japanese version of their driving license from the Japan Experience car rental organisation.
In bigger cities driving a car is not recommended due to the large amount of traffic in the city centers. Parking is also a problem in cities and can be very expensive. There are a large number of Japanese rental companies including Toyota Rentacar and Orix Rentacar. It is easy to book a car rental online or alternatively use an English automation service on the phone. Renting from a company based in Japan is a cheaper alternative to using international companies.
Prices for car rentals in Japan
An average car rental price for a small car for one day is around 5000 yen (ca. 46 USD) and 10,000 yen for medium-sized cars. This cost includes taxes and insurance and you will need to return the car with a full tank.
Driving in Japan
When driving in Japan it is important to be aware of the nation’s driving rules and regulations:
- Drivers must be at least 18 years of age.
- Cars always drive on the left side of the road.
- Road signs are in both Japanese and English.
- Some expressways require a toll fee.
- Drinking and driving is illegal.
Petrol in Japan
In order to top up your car, you will need to find a petrol station. Petrol stations are easy to find in Japan and some are open throughout the night alongside main roads. Attendants are often at stations to direct drivers to the stands and to take payment. Alternatively, self-service stations are usually available but these are only in Japanese. It is also advisable to learn simple Japanese phrases to help when speaking to the attendant.