Renting a car in Japan

Renting cars in Japan is a good option for visitors. As a tourist I did my research on, you may plan to visit many places in Japan within a short time. Some of these towns require rental cars due to a lack of public transportation. You may also want to avoid the problem of public trains and buses. Moreover, you may be on a tour and can share the cost. Again, there is a lot of fun in stopping and taking pictures of the beautiful scenes. Some people are just born to travel. One way to achieve this goal is by renting cars.

Rental cars in a parking lot

Rental cars in a parking lot

  • Requirements for renting a car

For you to rent a car you must be over 18 years and have a driving license. Non-Japanese residents should have an international driving license. It is best to apply for this license in advance. This can be done in your home country’s department of motor vehicles.

However, visitors from Monaco, France, Germany, Slovenia, Belgium Taiwan, and Switzerland only need their driving license in Japanese translation. This is done by the Japan automobile federation. At the car rental company, you will present the translation with your passport on which entry to Japan stamp appears. Validity ends when the driving license expires.

  • Rental companies

Renting cars in Japan can be done online or over the counter. Choose the rental and return day, type of car, a drop-off point, and options such as car seat and navigation system availability. Reservation should be made a few days earlier. This will ensure you get the type of car you want.

Some of the rental companies include Toyota Rent A Lease, Nissan rent-a-car, Times car A rental, and Hertz Japan. The estimated price for standard cars is 5,000 to 7,000 yen for 6 to 12 hours and 7000 to 10000 yen per day. Luxury car prices e.g. Toyota Crown and Mercedes Benz are 10,000 yen for 6 hours and a maximum of 20000 yen for 24 hours.

A rental company at Narita airport in Japan

A rental company at Narita airport in Japan

  • Traffic considerations in Japan

When renting a car in Japan it is good to keep several things in mind. These include:

  1. The steering wheels in Japan are on the right side while you drive on the left side of the road.
  2. The maximum speed on the highway is 100km/h, 40km/h in cities, and 60km everywhere else.
  3. Road signs and car navigation systems are displayed in the Japanese language. In Hokkaido, GPS systems are found in Korea, Chinese, and English.
  4. During winter it is preferable to rent a vehicle with a tire chain. This will prevent accidental slipping.
  5. You will be expected to pay toll fees of 100 yen on specific places of the highway. This can be done using an electronic toll collection system. If you don’t have one you can pay in cash at the booths with green panels. For a 3 hour journey, you will be expected to part with around 2000 yen.
  6. In Japan, there are two types of parking that are gate-style and lock style parking which operate on different mechanisms.


Most rental companies require that you fill-up the tank before returning it with the receipt. They usually have selected gas stations. The car may also be returned to a branch of the rental company. It is good to check if there is a public transport system nearby.

Furthermore, the company allows you to return the car and they estimate gas prices. This can be an option when you are visiting rural areas and gas stations are closed. But this will be more costly.

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