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A Guide to Driving in Japan with a Rental Car 

Driving in Japan can be a convenient way to explore the country, especially if you want to visit destinations off the beaten path. Here's what you need to know about driving in Japan:

Driving Side: Japan drives on the left side of the road, similar to the UK and Australia.

Road Conditions: Japan boasts a well-maintained road network with smooth and efficient highways, even in rural areas. Roads are usually in excellent condition.

Traffic Rules: Japan has strict traffic rules and enforces them rigorously. Speed limits are clearly marked and are usually 40-50 km/h in urban areas, 60-100 km/h on highways, and 80 km/h on expressways. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers, and the use of mobile phones while driving without a hands-free device is prohibited.

Parking: Finding parking in major cities, especially Tokyo, can be challenging and expensive. Look for paid parking lots or park-and-ride facilities outside the city center.

International Driving Permit: If you plan to drive in Japan, you'll need an International Driving Permit (IDP), which can be obtained in your home country before your trip. It's required along with your regular driver's license.

Public Transportation: Japan has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including trains, subways, and buses. In many cities, using public transportation may be more convenient than driving, especially during peak hours.

As for where you can go, Japan offers a diverse range of destinations:

  1. Tokyo: Japan's bustling capital is a must-visit for its vibrant culture, historic temples, and modern skyscrapers.

  2. Kyoto: Known for its traditional architecture, serene temples, and beautiful gardens.

  3. Hiroshima: Visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum and explore the historic city.

  4. Osaka: A food lover's paradise with a vibrant nightlife scene.

  5. Hokkaido: Japan's northernmost island is known for its stunning landscapes, including national parks and hot springs.

  6. Kyushu: The southern island offers historic sites, volcanoes, and beautiful coastlines.

  7. Nara: Home to friendly deer and ancient temples.

  8. Nagasaki: Known for its European influences and beautiful harbor.

  9. Okinawa: A tropical paradise with beautiful beaches and unique culture.

  10. Japanese Alps: Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, skiing, and hot springs.

Before driving in Japan, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules of the road and plan your routes in advance. With careful preparation, you can enjoy a memorable road trip through Japan's diverse and captivating landscapes.

Where to pick-up car hire in Japan

Facts about Japan

  • Whilst it doesn’t look it on a map, Japan is made up of nearly seven thousand islands.
  • The metropolitan area of Tokyo has the largest population in the world at over thirty million people.
  • The Japanese name for Japan translates as ‘Nippon’.
  • The country has the highest life expectancy in the world.
  • Only Singapore has a lower murder rate than Japan.
  • Splashing a pedestrian with your car is not allowed and you may receive a fine. - See Weird Driving Laws

Cheapest car hire in Japan

Suzuki Wagon R

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 53.24 EUR/day
Suzuki Wagon R

7 Days rental at 372.70 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Suzuki Wagon R

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 53.24 EUR/day
Suzuki Wagon R

7 Days rental at 372.70 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Suzuki Wagon R

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 53.24 EUR/day
Suzuki Wagon R

7 Days rental at 372.70 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Corolla

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 48.45 EUR/day
Toyota Corolla

7 Days rental at 339.19 EUR from 22/04/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Corolla

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 48.45 EUR/day
Toyota Corolla

7 Days rental at 339.19 EUR from 22/04/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Corolla

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 48.45 EUR/day
Toyota Corolla

7 Days rental at 339.19 EUR from 22/04/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Honda Fit

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 37.68 EUR/day
Honda Fit

7 Days rental at 263.82 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Mazda 2

5 Adults, 3 Doors

From 41.59 EUR/day
Mazda 2

7 Days rental at 291.16 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Mazda 2

5 Adults, 3 Doors

From 41.59 EUR/day
Mazda 2

7 Days rental at 291.16 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Alphard

7 Adults, 5 Doors

From 163.48 EUR/day
Toyota Alphard

7 Days rental at 1144.38 EUR from 22/04/2024

  1 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Prius Hybrid

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 64.60 EUR/day
Toyota Prius Hybrid

7 Days rental at 452.26 EUR from 22/04/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Honda Freed

5 Adults, 3 Doors

From 64.60 EUR/day
Honda Freed

7 Days rental at 452.26 EUR from 22/04/2024

  4 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Prius Hybrid

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 64.60 EUR/day
Toyota Prius Hybrid

7 Days rental at 452.26 EUR from 22/04/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Nissan Note e-Power

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 79.51 EUR/day
Nissan Note e-Power

7 Days rental at 556.61 EUR from 18/03/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Nissan Note e-Power

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 79.51 EUR/day
Nissan Note e-Power

7 Days rental at 556.61 EUR from 18/03/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Nissan Note e-Power

5 Adults, 5 Doors

From 79.51 EUR/day
Nissan Note e-Power

7 Days rental at 556.61 EUR from 18/03/2024

  3 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Aqua

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 45.76 EUR/day
Toyota Aqua

7 Days rental at 320.35 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Aqua

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 48.99 EUR/day
Toyota Aqua

7 Days rental at 342.96 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Toyota Aqua

4 Adults, 5 Doors

From 48.99 EUR/day
Toyota Aqua

7 Days rental at 342.96 EUR from 22/04/2024

  2 |
  Automatic |
  Yes

Top tips when hiring a car in Japan

  • Drive on the left-hand side of the road in Japan
  • Toyota and Nissan both have direct car rental branches in Japan
  • The speed limit is just 100km/h on the motorways, one of the slowest in the world
  • Japan has an excellent road safety record thanks to the significant investment in roads and low speed limits
  • Aim to book car hire in Japan at least 4 weeks in advance for the widest choice of cars and lowest prices
 

Popular car hire destinations in Japan

Laws and rules of the road when driving in Japan

  •  

    L

    Road Driving Side

  •  

    30-50kph

    Urban speed Limit

  •  

    80kph

    Rural Speed Limit

  •  

    100kph

    Motorway Speed Limit

  •  

    JPY  146.92/Ltr

    Current Petrol Price

  •  

    0mg

    Drink Drive Limit

  •  

    JPY

    Currency

  •  

    YES

    Tolls

  •  

    21

    Min Rental Age

    18

    Min Driving Age

  •  

    Front and Rear

    Seatbelts

  •  

    Fixed and Mobile

    Speed Cameras

  •  

    Hands Free Only

    Mobile Phones

Compare car rental agents in Japan

Rental Agent
Locations
Rating (/10)
Customer Reviews
Mini (€/day)
Compact (€/day)
Intermediate (€/day)
Standard (€/day)
 Alamo
77
8.8/10
900
€ 53.24
€ 84.90
€ 71.23
 Europcar
199
8.2/10
490
€ 55.40
€ 86.88

Car rental agent statistics in Japan

  • Highest Rated Agent Icon
    8.8/10
    Highest rated agent:
    ALAMO
  • Lowest Rated Agent Icon
    8.2/10
    Lowest rated agent:
    EUROPCAR
  • Total Number of Reviews Icon
    1,390
    Total number of reviews in
    Japan
  • Most Locations Icon
    75
    Most Locations in Japan:
    ALAMO
  • Average Wait Time Icon
    24
    Average wait time
    (Min.)
  • Total Rental Companies Icon
    12
    Total rental companies
     

Average prices per day for car hire in Japan

ItemPercent
January€ 74
February€ 74
March€ 76
April€ 72
May€ 72
June€ 73
July€ 85
August€ 85
September€ 72
October€ 72
November€ 72
December€ 75
ItemPercent
January€ 60
February€ 60
March€ 61
April€ 61
May€ 62
June€ 59
July€ 61
August€ 63
September€ 56
October€ 56
November€ 60
December€ 61
ItemPercent
January€ 110
February€ 118
March€ 137
April€ 117
May€ 109
June€ 125
July€ 129
August€ 122
September€ 111
October€ 112
November€ 110
December€ 125
ItemPercent
January€ 92
February€ 93
March€ 95
April€ 82
May€ 90
June€ 87
July€ 101
August€ 93
September€ 86
October€ 90
November€ 89
December€ 93
ItemPercent
January€ 60
February€ 60
March€ 60
April€ 60
May€ 61
June€ 60
July€ 70
August€ 68
September€ 60
October€ 60
November€ 61
December€ 61
ItemPercent
January€ 107
February€ 106
March€ 107
April€ 103
May€ 106
June€ 104
July€ 106
August€ 114
September€ 102
October€ 102
November€ 107
December€ 109
ItemPercent
January€ 120
February€ 120
March€ 120
April€ 108
May€ 115
June€ 112
July€ 129
August€ 134
September€ 109
October€ 112
November€ 117
December€ 117
ItemPercent
*average daily rates based on 7 day rental, search for today's best prices.

Fuel prices in Japan

DieselUnleaded
Mar , 2023

€ 0.98

€ 1.13

Apr , 2023

€ 1.03

€ 1.17

May , 2023

€ 1.00

€ 1.13

Jun , 2023

€ 0.99

€ 1.12

Jul , 2023

€ 0.98

€ 1.11

Aug , 2023

€ 1.00

€ 1.12

Sep , 2023

€ 1.04

€ 1.17

Oct , 2023

€ 1.03

€ 1.16

Nov , 2023

€ 0.95

€ 1.07

Dec , 2023

€ 0.98

€ 1.11

Jan , 2024

€ 0.98

€ 1.11

Feb , 2024

€ 0.97

€ 1.10

Month, YearDiesel €/ltrUnleaded €/ltr
Feb , 2024 0.97 1.10
Jan , 2024 0.98 1.11
Dec , 2023 0.98 1.11
Nov , 2023 0.95 1.07
Oct , 2023 1.03 1.16
Sep , 2023 1.04 1.17
Aug , 2023 1.00 1.12
Jul , 2023 0.98 1.11
Jun , 2023 0.99 1.12
May , 2023 1.00 1.13
Apr , 2023 1.03 1.17
Mar , 2023 0.98 1.13

Car rental price statistics in Japan

  • Average Price Icon
    € 263.76
    Average price:
    (per week)
  • Highest Daily Price Icon
    € 163.48
    Highest daily price:
    Toyota Alphard
  • Total Vehicles Icon
    1,362
    Total cars available
     
  • Most Popular Car Model Icon
    216
    Most popular model:
    Honda Fit
  • Locations with Most Cars Icon
    25
    Location with most cars:
    Hokkaido - New Chitose Airport
  • Cheapest Daily Price Icon
    € 37.7 per day
    Cheapest daily price:
    AVIS - Okinawa - Naha Airport
FAQs - How can we help?

There are always some points on which you are not sure when hiring a car, so we have done our best to answer the frequently asked questions. Just click this link and you will find the questions are sorted by category for easy navigation.

Useful links if renting a car in Japan

Other Car Hire Locations in Japan

We specialise in car rentals throughout Japan to find you the best price and that's a promise...

Fukuoka
€46.4
 
 
Economy 3 5 2 from €46.4 per day
Compact 3 5 3 from €56.0 per day
Mini 5 4 2 from €49.1 per day
Osaka
€51.6
 
 
Mini 5 4 2 from €58.4 per day
Compact 3 5 3 from €62.1 per day
Economy 3 5 2 from €51.6 per day
Yokohama
€58.4
 
 
Mini 5 4 2 from €58.4 per day
Compact 5 5 3 from €70.8 per day
Economy 3 5 2 from €63.5 per day
Tokyo
€51.6
 
 
Economy 3 5 2 from €51.6 per day
Estate 5 5 5 from €87.9 per day
Compact 3 5 3 from €62.1 per day