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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


· 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. 


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.


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 /


2018.11.20 Destination: Osaka

10.0hightly Recommended use this company

first is japanese professional doing their services second is the car is really new


2018.11.20 Destination: Tokyo

10.0Cheap and easy for Rent

Goog service


2018.11.16 Destination: Wakayama

10.0Good place to hire from

Easy pick up and drop off. They didn't have the car we reserved but upgraded us to a better car ay no extra charge. We ended up with a hybrid which was extremely economical.

W.woon Hong

2018.11.09 Destination: Osaka




2018.11.03 Destination: Osaka

10.0Overall Satisfied rentAcar thanKs Again~OSAKA

The staff eagerly and polite help the customer to solve some problems~GPS using, petrol station, drop off place etc. The car in good condition.


2018.10.27 Destination: Fukuoka

8.2very nice car, friendly staff, but...

Staff were friendly even they only speak conversational English. The lady walked thru some simple car functions with us and the process was smooth and quick when we were at the store.


2018.10.24 Destination: Tokyo

9.2Great little car

My car had 8000kms on it. Cameras allowed for ridiculous tight parking.


2018.10.26 Destination: Tokyo

9.0Great Car and In-Store service, emails with rent-a-car a nightmare

The care rental company was beyond amazing, great car, perfect service, and very flexible when I was stuck in traffic and dropped off the car a bit late. Truly beyond what I expected.


2018.10.18 Destination: Tokyo

10.0Good car good service

Staff are very friendly


2018.10.10 Destination: Tokushima

9.8Very good experience.

Very helpful staff. Fine car. Japanese driving is very courtious and safe.

Best car rental deals in Japan

Best rates found by EasyRentCars users in the last 30 days.

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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