Choosing the right rental company and vehicle is a tricky business, especially for foreign visitors. In Japan, as well as renting from individual companies directly, you can utilise comparison websites, allowing you to check multiple deals all at once! A great example of such a service is Tabirai Japan Car Rental. Read on for a demonstration on why they should be your go-to when you want to go go in Japan!
First off, the 100% guarantee of an English GPS unit is a big win, allowing you to navigate comfortably in your native language. Secondly, they only list the major rental companies that welcome foreign visitors. Also, prices displayed are all inclusive, there’s no hidden costs. This means that the price you see covers basic rental, basic insurance, collision damage waiver (CDW), a GPS unit, and VAT, another big win. Last but not least, communications can be done in English, a huge advantage for non-Japanese speaking customers!
It couldn’t be easier to find the best price for your Japanese rental with Tabirai Japan Car Rental. The website is clean, simple, and very user friendly. Here’s a blow by blow of how it works:
Once you enter the site using the URL http://en.tabirai.net/car/, on the left hand side you’ll see a search box. Just enter your dates, pickup/drop-off location(s), preferred vehicle type, smoking preferences, and then hit the search bar to compare the cheap prices on offer. (I’ve done an example booking with screenshots to help you out).
Next, compare the list of vehicles based on your selections. Each listing will give the vehicle make (or equivalent), engine size, and how many it seats, as well as the rental company name, vehicle type, vehicle class, time for rental, and a price inclusive of tax. In my example, I asked to rent a compact car from Naha Airport on Okinawa for one week. The cheapest price I got was 28,000 yen, a fantastic deal for the size and amount of people seated.
I liked the look of the second vehicle, so I selected it. It gives full vehicle specifications, as well as options to check rental terms and conditions, company information, and an easy option to modify my booking in case I changed my mind. It also gives a list of extras, including baby and infant seating, and the option for an ETC reader (more on these later). This is a tick box system, and if an item you request has a price next to it, it’s automatically added to your balance, making it easy for you to see exactly how much you’ll pay (see below, I added a stroller so you can see the price change).
Happy? Let’s continue!
At the bottom of the page, once you’ve checked you are happy with all the details, dates, and vehicle, you can click to proceed with your booking.
The next page brings you to a form. Fill out all your details, then simply click the “proceed to the confirmation’ button at the bottom. You get one final chance to look over all the information before you confirm.
Finally, double check everything is correct, read the important information, then scroll down to the bottom to make the final booking. You don’t have to enter credit card details; payment is made directly with the rental company upon pick up.
And voila! You have made a reservation! Nice and easy, as well as cheap on price!
Here are the links to the individual prefectures top pages, as well as the main URL:
Main website: http://en.tabirai.net/car/
Driving in Japan.
Japanese vehicles are right hand drive, meaning traffic drives on the left (the opposite side of the road to most of Europe and the USA). Speed limits are displayed in km/hr, and are much lower than European/ American roads. As an example, the fastest speed limits can be found on expressways, and is usually around 80km/hr (50mph). Drive Plaza has some great information on traffic rules, etiquette, and driving tips, and they have an English version of their website, which you can check out here:
Japan has a network of expressways, as well as normal roads and highways. Expressways are quicker and more convenient toll roads, with users able to pay in yen cash (coins or notes; don’t take 5000 yen notes though, they won’t give change!) or with an ETC reader. ETC is an ultra-quick way to drive and pay. Basically you use a prepaid card to go through special ETC barriers (marked at all entrances and exits on expressways). The card can be linked to a credit card or bank account for your home country, meaning no fiddling with handfuls of change at exit barriers, great! You can also buy passes for expressways specifically aimed at tourists. These are similar to ETC, except temporary and designed for a one off trip (ETC are aimed more at commuters who use the expressways on a regular basis). Find more information on toll roads here:
And buy passes here:
What are you waiting for? Your driving adventure in The Land Of The Rising Sun is just a click away with Tabirai Japan Car Rental!
Writer: Louise Dupuy