Renting a Car in Japan: What you need to know
Last updated: 30 November 2018
Renting a car in Japan can greatly expand your range of activities during your vacation. 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.
Car rental companies in Japan: Where to rent a car
Japan's leading car rental companies are Ekiren, Nippon Rentacar, Nissan Rentacar, Orix Rentacar, Times Car Rental, and Toyota Rentacar. There are also a variety
There are car rental counters at most airports, but also near major train stations as well. Many of the bigger rental companies are tied up with major hotels, offering convenient packages.
Some companies even offer special discounts. If you know in advance that you are going to rent a car, it is better to reserve it on the Internet to be sure the make, model, options, and price are decided in advance.
At the rental office of any major company you may be surprised to see how many different types of cars are available — not only compacts and economy sizes, but luxury cars, sports cars, SUVs, real 4x4s and others. Just plan to stay within your budget, and remember extra costs such as gasoline, extra insurance, etc.
Before you rent: Selecting Rental Dates and Drop-off
Think carefully about how you want to manage your rental. For example, some car rental companies will allow you to do a “one-way” rental — drive the car from point A to point B and then leave it at a rental office near point B instead of returning it to point A. That means you could rent a car at your hotel, for example, and drop it off at the airport on your way home.
Options worth considering before renting a car in Japan
It is a good idea to pay for the extra insurance option called Collision Damage Waiver, or CDW. If you have an accident that is covered by that insurance, you are not liable for expenses relating to the accident. If you have an infant or toddler, you should probably rent a child seat as well. And since you will be driving in unfamiliar areas, a GPS navigation system would be a big help. Many rental companies now include these as standard equipment in all the cars they offer, but if your car doesn’t have one, you might want to consider that option as well.
Before you complete your rental, someone from the rental office will walk around the car with you to look for scratches, dents, etc. If you find anything, point it out and make sure that they write it down on the form showing damage to the car prior to your rental.
Be sure you are comfortable with the car
All cars are a little different, and cars in Japan (plus driving in Japan) may be slightly different even from other Japanese cars you have driven overseas. So take a moment before you shift into Drive; talk to the agent and ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand.
Do you know how to read and reset the GPS system? Are you comfortable driving on the left side of the road, and do you know where the turn signal indicators and windshield wiper switches are on this car? Can you work the heater and air conditioning easily? What do all those numbers on the dashboard mean?
Of course, you don’t have a lot of time, but just take a minute to ask questions. You’ll be glad you did.
Returning the Car: Always With a Full Tank
Most rental companies will require you to return the car with a full gas tank. Be sure to ask where the nearest gas station is, and when you fill up the tank, be sure to get a receipt, because you may need to give it to the rental agent when you return the car.
Returning the Car
After you fill the tank and get your receipt, it's time to return the car. Usually, you will walk around the car with someone from the rental company and check for external damage, as well as any items that you may have forgotten inside the car or in the trunk. Once they tell you that everything is OK, you are finished!
List of car rental companies offering Live Japan deals
- Address 860, Yamazaki, Noda-shi, Chiba, 278-0022
Unga Station （Tobu Noda Line (Tobu Urban Park Line)）
15 minutes on foot
- Phone Number 04-7192-7348
NIPPON Rent-A-Car Naritaニッポンレンタカー 成田空港 営業所
- Address 495-2, Aza-asama, Tokko, Narita-shi, Chiba, 286-0106
Narita Airport Station （JR Narita Line / Keisei Main Line / Narita SKY ACCESS Line）
8 minutes on foot
- Phone Number 0476-32-0601
NIPPON Rent-A-Car Hanedaニッポンレンタカー 羽田営業所
- Address 1-2-6, Haneda, Ota-ku, Tokyo, 144-0043
Otorii Station （Keikyu Airport Line）
2 minutes on foot
- Phone Number 03-3745-1190
Camp In Car Ebisu Head OfficeCAMP IN CAR 東京 恵比寿本部
- Address Ebisu apartment 7F, 1-2-1, Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0021
Ebisu Station （JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line）
3 minutes on foot
- Phone Number 050-3569-0087
Spots showcased in the article
- Omoshiro rent-a-car
- NIPPON Rent-A-Car Narita
- ニッポンレンタカー 成田空港 営業所
- NIPPON Rent-A-Car Haneda
- ニッポンレンタカー 羽田営業所
- Camp In Car Ebisu Head Office
- CAMP IN CAR 東京 恵比寿本部
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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.