Known for being one of the most requested destinations by travelers and unfortunately sometimes discarded by the topic of being a very expensive country, Japan is the ideal place to know and live in the first person, as the most ancient tradition and the most extreme modernity can live together in true harmony.
Visiting the most touristic attractions of Japan is a pleasure for the senses because as we said before, you can enjoy a cocktail that sometimes is not easy to assimilate, in which the incredible traditions, palpable in almost every corner, modernity that sometimes can be even overwhelming and one of the best gastronomies in the world form a set difficult to forget, that we are sure, will give you unforgettable moments that will make you want to return to Japan again and again.
All this, together with a fascinating culture and incredibly educated people, make this destination a safe bet and an unforgettable trip. Get ready to enjoy one of the most incredible countries in the world!
Renting a car in Japan can sometimes be scary. The train is often the preferred means of transportation to visit Japan. However, renting a car in Japan offers many advantages… Find cheap ﬂights and hotels in Japan and choose your car rental service!
Whether you want to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Sapporo, Nara, or Takayama, we have made a Ranking of the Best Car Rental companies in Japan in 2023 to help you choose your next car rental booking, which, by the way, you can do easily and at the best price on this website.
#1 – Nissan Rent a Car 🏆
Nissan Rent-A-Car has 360 agencies in Japan located in strategic cities for all itineraries by car. Customers are generally impressed by the cleanliness of the cars. Returning a car at Nissan is quick and easy. The main assets of the company are the fact their service is fast and impeccable, and they offer a wide range of quality cars for all your needs. Whether you are traveling as a couple or as a family, from small affordable day trips to long journeys in style, you will find an adequate car and rental offer. If you are not used to Japanese roads, an English GPS is available.
#2 – Times Car Rental 🥈
Times CAR RENTAL covers a vast network of locations across Japan, including all major airports and Shinkansen stations across the country. The company provides all kinds of vehicles from a wide range of brands such as TOYOTA, NISSAN, or MAZDA, but also imported cars such as Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, or Volkswagen. You can choose from compact cars for small-sized groups to minivans for families, luxury cars for rich clients, or large vans for businessmen. People who rent cars from Times CAR RENTAL have peace of mind as in case of problems, the customer service is available 24 hours in 10 languages.
#3 – Nippon Rent-A-Car 🥉
Nippon Rent-A-Car is the reference company in Japan for car rentals and has 850 agencies around the country. It has offices in all major Japanese cities. Internet reservations are available in English. Their website, on which you can find the contact of each agency via a very practical map, is entirely translated into English. They also have a hotline with English-speaking interlocutors (between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.). The car you rent from the company is clean, comfortable smoke-free, and equipped with the ETC system. Customers can pick up their vehicles at one office (city) and return them at another according to their itinerary and needs.
#4 – Toyota Rent-A-Car 🔝
Toyota has 1,200 car rental agencies all around Japan. One must remember, though, that Internet reservations are only available in Japanese. Toyota cars are the best: a spacious SUV, a rugged truck, or a gas-saving hybrid. All of these are available for rental. You can be certain to select the vehicle that is best for you. Whether you want to go out of the town for an excursion, or need a vehicle for a business purpose in another city, renting a Toyota car is always a good idea. Toyota vehicles have all the power, sleek curves, and comfort you expect from the brand. They also have the latest and greatest technology to make your drive experience even more pleasant and convenient.
#5 – NICONICO RENT A CAR 🔝
NICONICO Rent-A-Car has offices in many Japanese airports and train stations: New Chitose Airport (Sapporo), Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), Narita International Airport, Shin-Yokohama, Fukuoka Airport, Nagasaki Airport, Kagoshima Airport, and Center-Minami Station. Customers who rent from these airports will be offered free shuttle services, both on arrival and on departing. The company offers a large variety of vehicles, from compact cars to minivans, compact camping cars, large cargo vans… They are provided with GPS supports, insurance, and a Safety Plan option.
#6 – Smile Rental Car 🔝
Smile Rental Car specializes in weekly and monthly rentals of a wide variety of vehicles from small cars to 10-passenger vans. The car rental service is available for 4-day rental or longer, from Narita Airport, or Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Longer rentals offer greater savings and you can also earn miles according to the amount you spend on car rental charges. This company is for people who are used to travel to Japan and who speak Japanese. They feel at ease with a real local car rental agency that meets their needs.
#7 – Budget 🔝
Budget has offices in 120 locations and in 35 prefectures in Japan. The best-known ones are Chitose, Sapporo, and Narita. You can choose one from various non-smoking car types, all equipped with GPS and ETC card reader. Optional equipment includes a child seat and snow tires. Clients profit from a 25% discount from a regular price at any time, and 2 complete and reliable insurance policies! You can create your own itinerary and take and drop your vehicle in any office of the company. Budget always guarantees a pleasurable experience! Let’s remind that the brand operates in over 120 countries. Those who are used to renting cars know Budget for sure.
#8 – Hertz 🔝
Hertz Japan offers a wide range of vehicles (compact cars, hatchbacks, smart executive saloons, convertibles, minivans, etc.) and an extensive lineup of services. If you need to hire a car during your stay in Tokyo or another Japanese city, this company has proven its reliability throughout the years and the world. This renowned car rental company provides you with everything you need, from high-end vehicles in the Prestige Collection and fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles in the Green Traveler Collection. Whether you have to drive in big cities or on unfamiliar roads, you can find a convenient car equipped with navigation systems and emergency roadside assistance.
#9 – JR (Japan Railways) Rent-A-Car 🔝
Even though you can get to any place in Japan thanks to the Shinkansen bullet train, some travelers want to explore attractions off the main routes. It is always so enjoyable to drive yourself! As you cannot drive all along your journey in Japan (unless you are super rich), you have to travel by train and subscribe to the Japan Rail Pass. This will make you benefit from special discounts on your car rental costs at Eki Rent-a-car offices, in (or close to) most of the major Japan Rail stations. This is valid wherever you are in the country. You just have to present a valid ticket train. All Eki cars come with GPS navigation systems, making it easier for travelers to navigate.
#10 – SKY Rent-A-Car 🔝
For your trip to Japan, if you land in Okinawa, then SKY Rent-A-Car is the car rental company you need. A free shuttle bus to the office is provided. It takes 15 minutes to get there and you can pick your car for a ride through Japan. You can choose from light (“Kei”) vehicles to station wagons. Whatever the type of car you would like to rent, you can get it with navigation systems. Concerning ETC Cards, customers are responsible for providing them. If you have special needs, like a child seat, a smoking vehicle, these options are available.
Things to know before renting a car in Japan
Japan is one of the few countries where you drive on the left with the steering wheel on the right. There are many theories to explain this, all more or less plausible, but none of them is official. Beware, driving on the left can be unsettling at first, but after a few miles, you get used to it.
Japan does not accept international driving licenses. It is therefore imperative to have your driver’s license translated by the Japan Automobile Federation. The translation is to be presented with the passport on which the entry stamp to Japan appears. It is valid as long as the driving license itself is, unless it has been modified since the date of the translation (change of address, the addition of mention, duplicate…).
Almost all Japanese vehicles are equipped with automatic transmissions. This makes driving easy and convenient, with only three speeds: P for “park” (parking), D for “drive” (driving), and N for “neutral” (neutral).
Driving in Japan requires patience: 25 mph (40 km/h) allowed in cities, 62 mph (100 km/h) on highways, 37 mph (60 km/h) everywhere else… Almost all drivers generally drive about 12 mph (20 km/h) above these standards but beware of controls (police cars are frequent on Japanese roads, not to mention radars). A drowsy road that can allow you to linger on the landscapes … so do not worry when it takes 3 hours to travel 60 miles (100 km).
Highways are in perfect condition, very well maintained and lit, equipped with clean restrooms, shops, and restaurants. Japanese highways are among the most pleasant and safest in the world. The downside is that Japanese tolls are everywhere and excessively expensive. There isn’t a bridge that doesn’t charge 100 yen per passage. Same for highways: count about 2,000 yen for a 3-hour trip between two major cities… There is a prepaid card system called ETC, but subscribing to it is quite difficult.
A very useful feature of the Japanese GPS is that it allows you to enter a phone number and turn it into a destination. Most GPS devices are in Japanese, but you can ask (at your hotel or a friendly passer-by) to help you use this feature.
We hope you liked this article. Now you can continue reading our article about the differences between Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Payless, Sixt, Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo, National, and more, or use our search engine below to book your car.