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The Complete Japan Driving and Rental Guide

Although Japan has prided itself as having the most efficient public transportation systems around large metropolitan areas around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, less known sceneries are definitely worth and handy exploring by car. Here is a brief guide aiming at helping you drive comfortably on Japanese roads.

  • Speed Limit and Traffic Signs
  • Seatbelt and Child Safety
  • Parking, Fuel and Toll
  • Traffic Violation
  • Driving Licence and Age Requirements

Speed Limit and Traffic Signs

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road in Japan. Even though Japanese drivers are renowned for their respect of the driving rules, you should pay attention to cyclists, some of whom happen to ride on the wrong side of the road.

Speed Limit

The speed limits in Japan are between 80 and 100 km/h on expressways, 30 km/h in side streets, 40 km/h in urban areas, and between 50 and 60 km/h elsewhere unless states otherwise.

Traffic Signs

There are mainly four types of traffic signs in Japan: regulatory signs, warning signs, information and direction signs. For each type, you can find below several signs that you may not familiar with.


A typical Japanese regulatory sign generally features a red circle with a white background and blue pictograms. 

Japan_Traffic_Sign_Speed_Limit_90km_hSpeed Limit (90 km/h)Japan_Traffic_Sign_Minimum_Speed_Limit_50km_hMinimum Speed Limit (50 km/h)Japan_Traffic_Sign_No_OvertakingNo OvertakingJapan_Traffic_Sign_Road_Closed_to_TollRoad Closed to TollJapan_Traffic_Sign_Road_Closed_to_VehiclesRoad Closed to VehiclesJapan_Traffic_Sign_Give_WaySlow down (In Japanese and English)

Japanese warning signs feature a diamond shape and yellow background.

Japan_Traffic_Sign_CrossroadsCrossroadsJapan_Traffic_Sign_Bumpsy_RoadBumpy RoadJapan_Traffic_Sign_Wild_Animals_Crossing_DeerWild Animals Crossing (Deer)Japan_Traffic_Sign_Succession_of_More_Than_Two_Curves_to_the_RightSuccession of More Than Two Curves to the RightJapan_Traffic_Sign_Railway_Crossing_AheadRailroad Crossing AheadJapan_Traffic_Sign_Tram_Crossing_AheadTram Crossing Ahead

Japanese information signs feature a green background.

Japan_Traffic_Sign_Emergency_TelephoneEmergency TelephoneJapan_Traffic_Sign_Rest_Area_Parking_Fuel_Stand_EtcRest Area/Parking Fuel Stand, Etc.

Direction signs in Japan feature a rectangular shape with a blue or green background.

Japan_Traffic_Sign_Expressway_EntranceExpressway EntranceJapan_Traffic_Sign_Destination_&_DirectionDestination & Direction

To read more about Japanese road signs, here is a more detailed booklet.

*Please be aware that rules are subject to change. EasyRentCars.com will try the best to maintain the accuracy of this information.

Seatbelt and Child Safety

Seatbelt Laws

Drivers and all the passengers are required by law to wear a seatbelt. Failure to fasten your seatbelt may result in a fine.

Booster Seat Laws

Children under 6 years of age must be seated in child seats.

*Please be aware that rules are subject to change. EasyRentCars.com will try the best to maintain the accuracy of this information.

Parking, Fuel and Toll

Parking

· Permitted Parking


In Japan, parking cost normally depends on the size of the city and the distance from the city centre. Parking in small towns and cities is usually free.


Paid parking can be expensive in big cities, costing several hundreds of yen per hour. Parking lots in national parks or near tourist attractions sometimes charge a flat fee (typically 200 to 500 yen per use). Urban hotels usually provide parking for their guests at a flat rate (typically 1000 yen per night), while hotels outside the large cities usually offer free parking.


· Forbidden Parking


Please do not park your car indicated with the “No Parking” signs. 

Japan-Traffic-Sign-No-Stopping


Also do not park the rental vehicle in a place only allowed to use by renting on a monthly basis, marked by the “Kanji” of “月極 ” or “月極駐車場”. 

Japan Monthly Parking Lot


In addition, it is against the law to park a vehicle in the following places in Japan:


- In a tunnel


- On, or within five metres of the edge of an intersection


- Within three metres of the automobile entrance of a garage, car-park or similar


- On pedestrian or cycle crossings and railway lines


- Within ten metres of a bus stop or a bus stop sign


- Within five metres of the edge of an area of road works


- Within five metres of a fire hydrant, water tank or other fire safety equipment


Forbidden parking in Japan will lead to a hefty fine.

Fuel Prices

The average gasoline price in Japan in January 2018 was 141.50 Japanese Yen per litre, while the diesel price was 118.40 over the same period of time.

Toll

Most of the expressways in Japan are toll roads and you must pass through the automatic ETC (Electric Toll Collection) gate or manual gate with ticketing machine. It is highly common to rent an ETC system with the car hire company when taking a self-driving tour in Japan, and it allows you to drive through the ETC gate without stopping. ETC gate feature white “ETC 專用” characters on a purple background.5

Japan ETC Lane(Image from takingflights.com)

Japan ETC Device(Image from demflyers.com)


Alternative to ETC tolling, you may proceed to the manual gate, which is recognized by the“一般” characters written with a green background. Cash or bank cards can be used to pay the toll fee before entering the road. 

*Please be aware that rules are subject to change. EasyRentCars.com will try the best to maintain the accuracy of this information.

Traffic Violation

DUI Laws

The alcohol limit in Japan is BAC 0.03%. Drink driving above the limit can result in a maximum prison sentence of 3 years or a fine of about $480,000 Japanese Yen.

Traffic Fines

Speed cameras and speed traps are used to monitor driving speed in Japan. Drivers who exceed the speed limits up to 40km/h over can be fined from 9000 Japanese Yen to 35,000 Japanese Yen, and a 50km/h excess or more over will be viewed as criminal infringement and can result in a prison sentence up to 6 months, or up to 100,000 Japanese Yen fine.


Parking in the prohibitive areas will usually cause a fine from 10,000 to 20,000 Japanese Yen.

*Please be aware that rules are subject to change. EasyRentCars.com will try the best to maintain the accuracy of this information.

Driving Licence and Age Requirements

Japanese law requires that all drivers who do not hold a Japanese driver’s license must hold a country of origin driver's license and an International Driving Permit issued under the 1949 Convention on International Road Traffic. Driver’s licence must be held for at least 1 or 2 years (according to different car hire company).


The minimum driver age for renting a car at a Japanese rental office is 18 years old. This age may vary according to the state and car category rented. 

*Please be aware that rules are subject to change. EasyRentCars.com will try the best to maintain the accuracy of this information.

Guest reviews

1 /

S.Choi

December 15, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

7.3The car offered is totally unacceptable

I booked Sabaru Impreza but was offered Mazda 3 which is totally out of our expectation. I don’t expect Mazda 3 is similar class as Sabaru Impreza as car price, quality or performance.

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My Account

December 15, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

10Excellent

Exceed our expectations for both the service and the serana car itself. We would like to get the snow tyres for traveling in winter but their nissan cube doesnt have the snow tyres so they upgraded to serena model for us, it was fantastic

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KK LI

December 14, 2019 Destination: Naha

10Excellent

very good rent car company . the car clear and the price very good.

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S.Krairoek

December 13, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

10Happy

nice service

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December 10, 2019 Destination: Naha

7.7It’s ok . Good

I have been given Toyota Yaris instead of the Nissan Note even they have plenty of the Nissan. The car is good clean condition but the engine gives too much noisy sound, it’s not smooth engine as the Nissan. I don’t like the rental company because at the beginning they were forcing me to sign papers that will shoulder accident penalty to my side which I totally refused because I have paid AXA insurance to waive this penalty . The office tried to trick me into this by saying I will have to pay that part of any accident and then I will be able to collect it from the insurance which is not good and not correct . Any way . The car was ok. But the built in GPS is always taking me into the Toll gates which is really costly . I advice everyone to have their own gps system in their mobile or what ever device, Better than the one in the car .

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Larry U

December 10, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.3will do it again !

overall experience was very good !

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mizhar

December 9, 2019 Destination: Tsu

10Excellent

pre book the etc card as it will be hard to get at the counter

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Tan

December 8, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

7.3Good

Staff speaks very little English. GPS language has been set to English but the map and setting are still in Japanese. Not that useful. I recommend using own GPS.

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Jerry

December 8, 2019 Destination: Kobe

9Excellent

There is strong smoke smelling in the car when we just get the car. We are not smoker but understanding smoking in cars is very common in Japan

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Mohd Nizam

December 7, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

10perfecr

good

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December 5, 2019 Destination: Sapporo

9.7お勧めです。

清潔な車体。 スタッフの応対が理解できるけど杓子定規なのは気になるところ。

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December 5, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

9.3Excellent

The car was a decent size for the price. Pick up place easy to find and airport shuttle provided. Staff were very helpful

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December 5, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

7.7Traumatic experience locating drop off point.

The drop off was a nightmare. We keyed in the map code as instructed and was lead to a point where we cannot find the drop off point. Asking people around us didn't help. The number given is not contactable. Had to call the airport branch and was asked to call the customer service number, and was then informed that we have to key in the phone number(which was different) into the gps. They then explain that we have to drive down to the basement, which was not obvious. Better provided information from the start would have helped.

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LB

December 4, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.7Great rental experience!

Great staff, convenient location, the process of checking in was well organized & ran smoothly.

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t.s

December 3, 2019 Destination: Gotemba

8駅近で便利

駅から近く便利でよかったです。

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Khoo

December 3, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

9Comfortable and excited

The car is better than what I booked. Bigger car and spacious. Able to accommodate 1 big and 2 medium luggages and small luggage.

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S.Smith

December 3, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.3They made it very easy and I believe I received great value for my rental.

I communicated frequently with the staff at Car Rental Okinawa and they were always very responsive and polite.

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D.Godley

December 1, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

8.7Very satisfactory

The pick up place was out of Haneda airport so had shuttle. The drop of place was also out in a different location

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S.Neo

December 1, 2019 Destination: Nagoya

7It was overall a good driving trip except for the various hiccups we experienced.

The return of the car was a great hassle. We spent one hour looking for it as the map code provided didn’t bring us to the return point. Also, the GPS only allows us to key in places of interest that’s frequently visited. For example, when we wanted to stay at Hostel Yui-an as well as Hakuunsou , these location couldn’t be found. The tel no of the places we key in starts with 0 when the phone number we had all started with 8!

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November 30, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

6.7Average

Counter staff could not speak English and was inpatient. Another staff who showed us the car used an audio for translation, that was helpful. Note the GPS was only partially English. Strongly recommend non-Japanese drivers to have a backup gps. We were a given sienna.

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Haja Packeer

November 29, 2019 Destination: Naha

8.7Easy and pleasantly easy.

We were kept informed 2 days before via the WhatsApp.

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November 28, 2019 Destination: Naha

10Easy and friendly

Everything perfect

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Kipple Chan

November 28, 2019 Destination: Kirishima

8Very Good

Very friendly staff

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Lim Hui Sing

November 28, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

8Tokyo road trip

The staff speak a little of English , overall can be understand with some hand action But the pick up and drop off service very take time

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Lim Hui Sing

November 28, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

8.3Tokyo fuji Yokohama road trip

A bit difficult to find the office , it was under ground and doesn’t send any access or map to guide of the location , u need to figure out yourself The pick up and drop off service very take times , if u in a hurry ... lollll But car condition is good , they speak very little of English .

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S.N

November 28, 2019 Destination: Kume-jima

6.7EasyRentですいすい行こう

借りるとき、返すときも手続きが簡単に出来てよかった。

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G.Chin

November 27, 2019 Destination: Naha

8.7Great but bring your own GPS navigation.

GPS in vehicle has English setting but most menus are still Japanese. Could not use it even after attendant tried to show me how to use. Had to fill up the tank at their specified gas station and the only information given on it is a map code. It would be better to give more information so I could use Google Maps instead of being forced to use car's GPS.

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S.Tang

November 27, 2019 Destination: Osaka

9.7Good experience

The car was in good but the car navigation system was not working. I needed to use google map to lead my way in my whole trip. I have raised a complaint to the Nissan staff when I returned the car and requested them to fix the problem before giving the car to the next driver. Overall, the Nissan staff and the car were good and I had a good rental experience apart from the car navigation system.

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November 25, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

7.7Good

All up to expectation.

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November 24, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.3Excellent

Nice driving experience. Honda Fit is an economical car. Quick respond from whatsapp for any enqiry even out of service period.

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November 23, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

9.7Good

English not so good.

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November 22, 2019 Destination: Nagoya

8Very Good

I booking for BMW 2 series 7 seats, but I got masda 7 seats from TIMES, the staff told that in our booking write BMW 2 series 7 seats or similar, if you want BMW you must pay more than this price.

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Lim Tow Wei

November 22, 2019 Destination: Sapporo

8Very Good

Car and staff were good and friendly. Good thing i booked and got a 4wd prius as i believe that is super helpful to drive in snow (without ice chain on wheels). Car infotaiment wasnt friendly. Ended up without music most of the time and only occasional radio every now amd then in the city

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November 21, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

7Good

Difficult to find rental counter as no sign and inside the building causing delay pick up but staff did not allow late drop off than original booking.

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S.Mak

November 18, 2019 Destination: Fukuoka

9Very good experience

Very professional, informed me by phone due to unavailability of my car, got a free upgrade, the car is clean and in a good condition

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S.Fellows

November 18, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

9.7Great car hire experience

The kind people at Samurai looked after us very well - of course it is only car hire but they were very efficient and our choice of car was just right - would definitely use them again.

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Y.Chan

November 16, 2019 Destination: Sapporo

8.7Smooth and nice

Staff were very helpful! I can contact the staff directly by using line or WeChat, and they answered my questions immediately. It is very convenient. Staff can speak putonghua and English which avoid the language problem!

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Terence Cheng

November 16, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

9.7Good value and hassle free

Car is very clean, in good condition. Same model as marketed. Staff professional. Instruction is clear.

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K.Chulkaivalsucharit

November 15, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

7.7Good

Space not enough for our group

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L.Tan

November 15, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

8.7Attentive staff. Highly Reccomend.

Car service staff were very attentive. Even going so far as to provide snacks for the kids while waiting. Car was small due to my preference but everything else was on point. Although was hoping that I could have gotten the electronic card for toll ways but not too much of an issue for this.

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w.Ip

November 13, 2019 Destination: Osaka

9.7Perfect experience!

perfect, everything and Nissan staffs perfect!

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S.Ng

November 7, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

9.3Very smooth process and clean cars!

The counter staff was very helpful and even though they had limited english proficiency, there were printed instructions with pictures for us to go through. I appreciate that they provide some useful traffic rules which came in very handy for us first time drivers in Tokyo.

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S.Pavlov

November 6, 2019 Destination: Tokyo

9.7Excellent

Quick shuttle pickup from the airport but a bit of a struggle to communicate in English when requesting the shuttle. An older microvan car, mechanically in good condition. Drove 1600 Kms without any issues. Small cars are preferable in Japan if you want to drive on narrow local roads.

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J.Kuah

November 5, 2019 Destination: Hachinohe

9.7Highly recommended!

Some difficulties communicating with counter staff, but they are helpful and try to go out of their way.

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T.Lam

November 5, 2019 Destination: Naha

10Excellent

The pick up time can be short.

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November 4, 2019 Destination: Sapporo

8.3Quick and easy

Quick and easy car rental process. Wished that the staff was more aware of my ETC rental. I need to remind the staff that I have booked ETC card else I would have start my road trip without it!

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W.LEE

November 3, 2019 Destination: Naha

8.3Very Good

Good service

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S.Chong

November 3, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.7Fast, clean and responsive

Clear instruction, communication via Watsapp in English; Chinese. Appreciate special arrangement to pick up car @ airport on arrival due to arrival delay till 8pm.

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Tan CP

November 3, 2019 Destination: Naha

9.7Excellent

Great service at the counter.

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T.TAKAHASHI

November 2, 2019 Destination: Abashiri

10スムースで文句なしです!

スムースに対応して頂き空港への送迎も助かりました。文句なしでした。

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Frequently asked questions

Q1.What is an insurance excess?

The excess is the amount you'll only be liable for in case of damage(under Collision Damage Waiver) or theft(under Theft Protection) of the vehicle.
Information about the excess will be clearly stated in the price inclusion when you reserve a car on EasyRentCars.

Q2. How can I add an addtional driver?

You are advised to make a request upon your arrival at the rental counter. Additional charge per day will incur unless '1 Additional Driver Included' is stipulated on the rental.
Please note that the same licence and age requirement applys to the additonal driver. The addtional driver is supposed to present the required licence document along with the main driver at pickup.

Q3.What if I want to pick up or drop off my rental car out of office hours?

EasyRentCars will show you the car offers available at your chosen time on the search results.
However, pick-up or drop-off out of general opening hours may subject to an extra fee unless self-service pick-up or drop-off is available.
After you reserve a car on EasyRentCars, we will inform you of specific policy of the car hire company by email.

Q4. Can I take the hired car to another country or cross border?

If you want to pick up your car in one country and drop it in another, your search results will show you cars you can do that with.
If you're planning to cross any borders during your trip, bear in mind:
1. You may have to pay more.
There are often extra fees, taxes or additional cover you'll pay at the car hire counter.
2.It may not be allowed.
Depending on where you're hiring, you may not be able to take your car to another country.
Please email us if you want to take your hire car into a different country during your trip, and we'll talk you through your options.

Q5. Can I pick up my car at one location and return it at different location?

Yes. You can pick up the vehicle in one place and drop it off in another. An ‘one-way fee’ will incur. Whether it is inclued in the rental price or what additional cost may arise will be clearly stated at the time of booking on EasyRentCars.
Please inform the car hire company of your drop-off location when you pick up the vehicle or contact them directly during your trip. You will find a phone number on the rental agreement you signed at pickup.

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