Driving A Car

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Transportation - Driving a Car

  • Because of urban traffic congestion, driving within Japan's major cities is not recommended for foreign visitors. However, driving on main roads between cities is a viable alternative to public transportation. Visitors who intend to drive in Japan should note the following:

    On main roads most major destinations are sign-posted in English. In rural areas this may not be the case. If you are planning to drive in more remote areas, it is advisable to use an English-language GPS or purchase a reliable English-Japanese road atlas before you depart. Companies such as Shobunsha and Kodansha publish these atlases.

    People in Japan drive on the left.

    Parking can be difficult to find in some urban areas.

    An International Driving Permit is required.

    Tolls are levied on expressways and other major routes. Toll charges will depend on how far you wish to travel and which roads you intend to take. These can be quite expensive, and sometimes the cost of driving can be similar to that of train fares.

    The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) publishes an English guide to driving in Japan called "Rules of the Road". These are available at JAF offices throughout Japan. For further information go to the JAF website or contact the International Affairs Department of JAF on Tel.
    +81 (0)3 3436 2811 /Fax. + 81 (0)3 3588 6055.

    A Metropolitan Expressway map in English is available within Japan from the Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation:
    Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation
    Nittochi Bldg 9F
    1-4-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
    Tokyo 100-8930
    Tel. +81 (03) 3539 9259
    Fax. +81 (03) 3503 7678

    If you wish to drive a car while in Japan, you must obtain an International Driving Permit prior to departure. You will also need to be in possession of your national license while driving in Japan.

    International Driving Permits can be obtained at certain post offices around the UK. You will need to take a passport sized photo, proof of your address and driving license with you. Find more details on the Post Office's website.

    You will be required to produce your International Driving Permit when renting a car in Japan.

    Rental prices may vary from company to company. Average rates for 24 hours rental with unlimited mileage are as follows:

     Size ¥ / Day
     Sub - Compact (1000 - 1300 cc)

     5,000 - 11,100

     Compact (1500 - 1800 cc)
     9,000 - 13,500
     Intermediate (2000 cc)
     14,000 - 30,000
     Standard (3000 cc)
     29,500 - 31,000


    Fuel costs
    The above rental charges do not include fuel costs. Fuel in Japan costs approximately 100 yen per litre.

    Rental Companies
    Companies offering vehicle rental at various locations throughout Japan include:

    Japan Experience Car Rental & Self-Drive Holidays
    UK - Tel: 020 3514 6932

    UK - Tel: 08701 565 656 www.budget.com


    UK - Tel: 08708 44 88 44
    Times Car Rental (formerly Mazda Car Rental) 
    E-Mail. reservation@rental.timescar.jp
    Nippon Rent-A-Car


    Toyota Rent a Car
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