Knowledge of Japan Travel

Renting a Car in Japan: A Guide for Foreign Visitors

If you’re planning a trip to Japan, renting a car can be a great way to explore the country at your own pace. However, the process of renting a car in Japan can be a bit different from what you’re used to in other countries. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about renting a car in Japan as a foreign visitor.

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Driver’s License Requirements

To rent a car in Japan, you must have a valid driver’s license issued in your home country. In addition, you must also obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving in Japan. The IDP is essentially a translation of your home country’s driver’s license and is required by law for driving in Japan. You can obtain an IDP from your home country’s automobile association or a similar organization.

Choosing a Rental Car Company

There are many rental car companies in Japan, including both international and local brands. Some of the most popular companies include Toyota Rent-A-Lease, Nissan Rent-A-Car, and Budget Rent-A-Car. When choosing a rental car company, consider factors such as the size of the car, the rental rates, and the availability of English-speaking staff.

Making a Reservation

Once you’ve chosen a rental car company, you can make a reservation online or by phone. It’s recommended to reserve your car well in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season. When making your reservation, you’ll need to provide your name, driver’s license information, and the dates and times of your rental.

Picking up Your Rental Car

When you arrive at the rental car office, you’ll need to present your driver’s license and IDP. The rental car company will also ask for a credit card for the rental fee and any additional charges, such as insurance or toll fees. Be sure to read the rental agreement carefully before signing it, and ask any questions you may have before leaving the office.

Driving in Japan

Driving in Japan can be a bit intimidating for foreign visitors, especially if you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road. However, Japan has a well-developed road system with excellent signage, so navigating shouldn’t be too difficult. Just be sure to follow local driving laws, such as wearing seat belts and not using your phone while driving.


Parking can be a bit challenging in Japan, especially in big cities where space is limited. Look for parking garages or lots, as street parking can be hard to find. Many parking garages and lots use an automated system where you’ll take a ticket when you enter and pay when you leave.

Returning Your Rental Car

When returning your rental car, make sure to return it on time and in the same condition you received it. The rental car company will inspect the car and may charge you for any damages or excessive wear and tear. Be sure to fill up the gas tank before returning the car, as rental car companies often charge a premium for refueling.

In conclusion, renting a car in Japan can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the country. Just be sure to obtain the necessary documents, choose a reputable rental car company, and follow local driving laws and customs. With a little preparation, renting a car in Japan can be a hassle-free experience.

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