What you should know before you rent a car
Where to rent a car in Japan?
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is an island nation spread across thousands of islands – although not all are inhabited. The main islands include Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Honshu – where Japan's capital city of Tokyo can be found. A number of international airports can be found in Japan, including Narita International Airport and Tokyo International Airport. Japan boasts an efficient railway network and is also home to the highspeed Shinkansen (also known as the Bullet Train). Train stations include Tokyo Station and Kyoto Station. While traveling by train is both fast and efficient, opting to explore Japan by rental car will allow the flexibility to see the country at your own pace - and on your own timetable! Car rental companies including Nissan Rent a Car, Budget and Toyota Rent a Car can all be found in Japan, with desks at a number of international airports and in cities across the country.
What are the driving rules in Japan?
In Japan, drive on the left hand side of the road and pay attention to road signs, which are often displayed in English as well as Japanese. Speed limits in Japan are usually as follows: 30km/h in smaller side streets; 40km/h in urban areas; and 0 - 100km/h on freeways. However, pay attention to signs indicating the speed limit as these can vary. Japan operates a blood alcohol limit of 0.03% when driving, and this is strictly enforced. When renting a car in Japan, it is therefore best to drink no alcohol at all before getting behind the wheel.
Looking for somewhere to park your rental car in Japan? On street parking is often metered, so be sure to purchase a ticket and stick to the allowed time limit. There are also plenty of parking lots in Japan, with prices varying depending on location. Parking fares can start at around 100yen for 15 to 30 minutes.
Road trips in Japan
With well maintained roads and a plethora of fascinating destinations to discover, Japan is a great place for a road trip. Discover some of its most iconic sights by rental car, from bustling cities to historic landmarks.
The capital city of Japan, Tokyo is located on the island of Honshu. A bustling metropolis filled with attractions and landmarks to suit a range of tasted, it's a popular tourist destination in Japan. In Tokyo visit the impressive Tokyo Imperial Palace; see the city from above at the observation deck of the Tokyo Skytree; and take a trip to the Sensō-ji temple. Around 80 miles away by car, the iconic Mount Fuji stands 3,776m tall. An active volcano, it is popular for hiking and makes for a brilliant road trip from Tokyo.
Found on the island of Honshu, the city of Kyoto is known for its temples and tradition, as well as its Japanese cuisine. Don't miss a trip to the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine; the Arashiyama district, with its popular Arashiyama Bamboo Grove; and the Philosopher's Walk – which, in around April, is line with trees filled with cherry blossoms. From Kyoto, road trip destinations include the city of Osaka (32 miles); and the city of Nagahama, found on the shores of Lake Biwa (58 miles).
Also located on the Japanese island of Honshu, Osaka can be found in the region of Kansai. Overlooking Osaka Bay, it’s a modern metropolis and one of the largest cities in Japan. Popular sights and attractions in Osaka include the 16th century Osaka Castle; the Dōtonbori district, which is best known for its restaurants, nightlife and entertainment scene; and the Universal Studios Japan theme park. From Osaka, rent a car and drive for just under 20 miles to the city of Nara. The capital of Japan in the 8th century, Nara is a city of history and art, as well as being home to the beautiful Nara Park. For a longer road trip from Osaka, the city of Hiroshima stands around 200 miles away by car. Destroyed by an atomic bomb during the Second World War, visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to learn more about the event.