With the efficient transport system in Japan, the need to take a car loan while you are assigned to work in Japan is unnecessary. One can travel easily and quickly around Tokyo and other major cities with nary a hassle or huge expense. However, while in Japan, it would be part of the experience to travel to the less-crowded areas, and for this, you will need to rent a car.
Renting a car in Japan is the best way to see rural Japan. The basic requirements for car rental are:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- You will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) or secure a Japanese driver’s license
Unfortunately, you can only get an IDP from your country of origin, and it is valid for 12 months after the date of the issue regardless of what the expiration date is on your IDP. However, if you are from countries that do not follow the 1949 Geneva Convention on driver’s permit like Germany, France, or Taiwan, you have to secure a license from your embassy with corresponding Japanese translation from the Japan Automobile Federation.
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The average non-peak rental rate for a subcompact car is 5000 yen for 24 hours, 7500 yen for a compact, and 20,000 yen for a van. However, for short trips like half a day, you can negotiate for a lower rate if you tell them you only need the vehicle for 12 hours.
It is important to note that the rental rate is inclusive of taxes, fuel, GPS navigation, and insurance, but you are expected to return the car without damage and with a full tank. There are many gas stations across the country that accepts cash or credit card. Fortunately, most rentals have dropped off points in convenient locations, although there are drop-off fees that will have to be paid for.
And if you are thinking of dropping the car in a location outside of the city where you picked up the car, the fees are pretty steep. For this reason, you might want to consider renting on a per-city basis rather than paying the drop-off fee and the cost of ferry rides for long distances.