Should You Rent a Car in Japan? Things You Need to Know

Photo: DeltaWorks

If you travel to Japan and only visit places that are accessible by public transportation, you’re missing out on some of the coolest sites in the country.

When traveling to and within major cities, trains are the way to go, but you need a car to access some of the most beautiful — and less-touristy — places.

The legal minimum age to drive in Japan is 18.

You must be 18 years old to rent a car in Japan.

You can rent a car in Japan with a U.S. drivers license, but you are also required to have an IDP. You should obtain the IDP before you travel to Japan.

You need an International Drivers Permit (IDP).

Renting a “Kei” car may be cheaper.

Keijidosha or “Kei” cars are light vehicles, easily identified by their yellow license plates. They are less powerful than regular cars.

The prices you see when searching for car rentals in Japan include the cost of mandatory insurance, which covers damage, injury, and liability.

You are required to purchase the insurance.

Rental cars in Japan are almost always automatic transmission.

No need to worry if you don’t know how to drive a stick shift. Any Japan rental car is likely to be automatic.

Most Japan rental cars come with a GPS in the dashboard. Verify that the display is set for English, and have the staff show you the main features.

Ask for a tutorial on the GPS.

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Photo: DeltaWorks