For the most part, you probably won ’ t need to rent a car in Japan—especially not in Tokyo. The trains and buses will get you wherever you want to go, cursorily, safely and affordably. That said, there are some occasions when renting a cable car in Japan is the easiest ( or alone ) way of getting from Point A to Point B .
rise to :

Do I actually need a rental car?

If you ’ re just after a bite of that automotive independence with the fart in your hair and some tunes pumping on the stereophonic, then just go ahead and rent a car. however, Japan caters amazingly for people without cars—whether you ’ re a resident that needs to move some stuff or a fresh-off-the-plane visitor .
For residents, a common use font is for shopping. But even if you need to carry dwelling some bulky purchases like garden tools, grab a crowd of flat-pack furniture at IKEA, or pick up six twelve bagels from Costco, you can normally get it delivered to your door by the following day for a noun phrase fee. indeed why go to the fuss of renting a car ?

For certain destinations, such as Okinawa or Hokkaido, it makes a draw of sense to rent a car. Distances are big and public transportation is either limited or non-existent. Ditto much of the countryside outside the bad urban areas in the rest of Japan .
If you ’ re a visitor to Japan, you should be aware that Japan ’ s big cities are not car friendly. Getting around by car in central Tokyo or Osaka is not practical—parking alone ( if available ) will cost you at least ¥3,000 per day .
Renting a car in Japan

How much does it cost to rent 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. In the budget range, a compendious, < 1300cc car that can well take four passengers typically costs equitable under ¥6,000 for a 24-hour lease. Bigger and fancier cars normally cost ¥1,500–¥6,000 more. Hybrids can sometimes be had for a competitive price. Toyota rental cars are plentiful. You can besides rent luxury and sports cars in Japan, if you ’ re a classy cheapo . You can book a rental car via Klook, easily and in English, for use in Tokyo, Okinawa or elsewhere in Japan.

What do I need to rent a car in Japan?

First off, let ’ s take a count at your driver ’ second license. If you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued in credit line with the Geneva Convention, you ’ ll be able to rent a cable car in Japan—but not from all companies ( lookin ’ at you, Niko-Niko ) .
The engagement companies and Klook will be happy to help. You can get an IDP through your national car affiliation before coming to Japan ( eminence : not once you are hera ). The allow is valid for a year from the go steady of issue. You ’ ll necessitate to carry your local license with you when you use it. Oh, and you need to be over 18 .
If you ’ re from Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Monaco or Taiwan, you won ’ thymine be able to do the IDP thing, but you can use an official Japanese translation of your license alternatively. You can get the translation done through the Japan Automobile Federation or ( in some cases ) your local embassy or consulate. once you have it, you can drive for a year after arriving in Japan .
Of class, if you happen to have a Japanese driver’s license, that works besides. The other thing you ’ ll generally need to rent a cable car in Japan is a credit card .
Roads near Akasaka Mitsuke

Pickup points: airport, city or train station?

Although most rental car users will be aware of airport and city pick-up points, Japan has a third gear option : big railway stations. In many areas on the Shinkansen network, educate stations are the equivalent of airports. So quite than drive three hours to Nagano, for exemplar, you can take a relax trip on a high-speed educate, then pick up your rental car right following to the station. View Plaza ( JR East ’ s own travel agency ) has packages that include a Shinkansen ticket and car rental. They tend to work with the more expensive rental cable car companies though, so it ’ s not always a big deal .
As mentioned in the Do I need a rental cable car ? section above, if you ’ re a visitor to Japan and design to spend a few days in Tokyo or Osaka at the beginning of your trip, picking up a rental car from one of the international airports is a badly idea. Getting round by taxi or train is the way to go in the big cities—it ’ s cheaper, faster, and more convenient. If you ’ rhenium heading uncoiled into the countryside, leaving from the airport is practical, but if you ’ re getting straightaway off a long-haul escape or you ’ ve never driven in a left-hand traffic country, you might want to settle in a act before hitting the highway .
last, a warn if you ’ re planning to pick up your car from either cardinal Tokyo or Osaka. Escaping from the big cities can be an ordeal if you ’ re at all nervous about driving on specialize, heavily congested roads. A bombastic part of Tokyo ’ s espressway net, for exercise, is clandestine with off-ramps branching off from both the left field and right and constantly merging traffic .

The Japan car rental and return process

Whether you ’ ve used an on-line book avail like Klook or Web-Rentacar, or reserved wheels directly over the phone or via a lease company ’ south booking web site, you simply take your booking details to the designated lease function, confirm your requital information, and aside you go. While some Japanese-language ability will make the solicitation and slump of the rental cable car easier, it ’ s not essential .
car rental companies japan


Most of the pick-up procedures are the same as those used anywhere in the global. normally, it starts with an inspection of the vehicle during which any existing scratches, dents, or price are noted. Take photos with your phone to document the existing issues .
Ask whether you run on regular or another kind of fuel before you leave the rental car office. “ regular ” refers to regular unleaded gasoline, “ hai-oku ” is premium unleaded, and “ keiyu ” is diesel. Say “ Mantan de onegai shimasu ” for a wide tank of any it is you need .
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 ( normally cold ) coffee bean as a token endowment. Just take it .


Before roaring off, it ’ south worth noting that while rental contracts normally carry some built-in basic indemnity, this won ’ t necessarily cover you 100 % in the event of an accident. By paying a sting extra for a collision wrong release ( CDW ) and non-operation charge ( NOC ), you minimize the amounts you might be liable for if something goes askew. If it ’ s not listed, ask about it. The rental car ship’s company might besides offer a more comprehensive policy addition .
While that might be the most convenient option, you should compare it with on-line insurance company which besides offers a comprehensive coverage design for driving in Japan. If you go with a supplier like, you might have to pay for some expenses out of your pocket, but you ’ ll be promptly reimbursed .
Crazy car in Shibuya

Optional extras

If you have young ‘ uns, you can request a baby or child car seat when you make your book, a well as winter tires, coke tires, bamboozle chains, GPS devices and ETC ( electronic toll collection ) cards .
If you opt to use an ETC card, you can proceed through bell gates without stopping, and barely pay the rental agency when you return the car. otherwise, you ’ ll need to pay cash at the 一般 toll gates ( and yes, they do give change ). You should use ETC if available as it ’ south identical convenient .
GPS devices in Japan aren ’ metric ton great. While some have an english interface and will give you instructions in English, the UI is always arcane, and they ’ ra often out of date. alternatively, we recommend using the ( much better ) turn-by-turn navigation on Google Maps .
last, particularly if you ’ rhenium coming from a warm-climate country, you should take worry with your tire choice. Winter tires, snow tires, and coke chains are different ! If you ’ re unfamiliar with chains, make sure you get a demonstration before you leave. besides a word of advice : If heading into dangerous snow country, pay a bit excess for an all-wheel drive ( AWD ) fomite .
Toyota Rentacar

Returning the vehicle

When you ’ re on your way to return the car, be certain to stop off at a gas ( gasoline ) station ( “ gasorin sutando ” in japanese ) and fill up. This can be quite an intimidate thing to do if it ’ s your beginning ( or even fortieth ) time driving in Japan. To make it easier, head for a regular, staffed flatulence station rather than a self-service joint. The heart attendants will do all the hard work for you, and even help you get back onto the road .
A few car lease offices are train to do the refuel for you upon the return of the ride, but broadly the responsibility is with the driver.

Most rental companies allow you to return the car at a different arm ( for a tip ), making one-way road trips dim-witted .

Best car rental services in Japan

There are a bunch together of different companies serving the vehicle rental market in Japan. To start, we suggest you look at the options on Klook and Web-Rentacar .
We like these car rental sites for Japan because they ’ ra reasonably easy to use, and you can complete your entire book in English. Budget ( as in price, not the company ) and higher-end cars are available, with plenty of pick-up and slump options around major airports and caravan stations. They both offer more than 10 car lease brands, including conversant names like Budget, Avis, Europcar, Toyota, Times and Nissan Rent a Car ( handiness may differ between the two rental websites ) .

Car rental in Japan: A few things to know before you go

Some folks get a bee in their beatnik bonnet about doing the road trip of their dreams in Japan. While you can indeed do some lovely driving in Hokkaido and Okinawa, driving in much of the rest of Japan means roll, relatively lento ( think 80–100km/h ) along endless, walled highways. The views are virtually non-existent .
The tolls, well, take their toll on your bank balance wheel ( seriously, they can be very steep ). The wayside stops are redeeming, to be fairly ( and there are lots of ’ em ). But largely, driving between big cities is a drag. If you had any plans of burning rubber from Tokyo to Osaka, for exemplar, shelve them and take the Shinkansen ( or a bus ) alternatively .
besides, parking is actually costly in the cities. Consider your cheapo self cautioned ! Oh, and before driving anywhere, it pays to familiarize yourself with japanese road signs. not all of them are intuitive .
Man paying parking fee It ’ s not all admonitory tales though. Japan has an amazing network of rest stops and michi no eki ( literally “ road station ” ). arsenic well as providing a snorkel, you can frequently pick up local grow at super-low prices or eat local delicacies. Some michi no eki even have onsen, camping grounds, and areas for scenic walks. You ’ re besides ( legally protected by police ) allowed to sleep in your car at a michi no eki !

Renting a van or truck in Tokyo

While getting out of Tokyo itself ( if you opt for city pick-up ) might be a short bloodcurdling, this is actually a great way to get around the country. You can rent a budget camper vanguard to get out of the hotels and off that beaten track that hipsters seem to hate indeed much .
If you ’ re looking to rent a camper van in Japan, we recommend Dream Drive Japan .
The rental car companies besides have regular transportation vans ( like Toyota Hiaces ), but you ’ ll indigence to go directly to the individual companies to book them. The larger companies like Orix, Toyota Rent a Car, and Nissan Rent a car are more probable to have vans available. The cost to rent a Hiace-type avant-garde is normally about ¥14,000 for 24 hours .
Unless you get a “ kei van “, your vehicle will be classed as a mid-sized vehicle, which means your ETC tolls will be higher .
Kei trucks can be rented from about ¥9,000 for 24 hours. With a regular driver ’ s license, you can rent up to a medium-sized truck—such as the Toyota Dyna. The lease fees are about ¥14,000 per day .
If you need a truck to haul materials from a base center, arrest with the staff, as many home plate centers rent out kei trucks cheaply to customers thus that they can cart their purchases dwelling .

Alternatives to renting a car in Japan

If you aren ’ t so keen on the traditional rental business, you can try car sharing rather ( note : you ’ ll need a japanese license for this ). Orix Car Share and other providers allow you to “ borrow ” their cars, which are parked all over the indicate, particularly in bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka. You can rent them for light periods of time ( even 15 minutes ) —making mini, semi-spontaneous ( you reserve cars through an app or web site ) and brassy drives a breeze .
If you can ’ triiodothyronine or don ’ thymine want to drive, you can constantly take a cab or use one of the assorted JR Passes for your escapades .
If you need a car for a specific determination, but you can ’ thymine campaign, you can charter a cable car with a driver. The cost is about ¥33,000 for 6 hours. It seems expensive, but it ’ s cheaper than a taxi and can be better respect if you split the cost with friends or fellow travellers .

Car rental in Japan: FAQs

You ask, we answer .

What are the costs of renting a car in Japan?

Budget around ¥6,000 a day for a brassy lease car—but bridle prices cautiously with the rental company, as they can fluctuate quite a morsel depending on the season and demand. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate forget that in addition to the lease tip, you ’ ll be paying road tolls and fuel costs. Depending on whether you ’ re going on a promptly travel into the countryside or an epic poem travel to the far reaches of the state, these extra fees vary from a few thousand yen up to about ¥20,000 .

How old do I need to be to rent a car in Japan?

18. And you need a valid license !

What happens if I get a fine or parking ticket?

Take care of it immediately ! Follow the instructions cautiously. If you ’ re a resident, be prepared to declare it on your future visa application .

Should I rent a car in Okinawa?

Yes. It will make your liveliness on the southerly islands much easier. Do it now .
While we do our best to ensure it ’ s correct, information is submit to change. Post first published in April 2018. last update in September 2021.


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