Japan has a great public transport system and most visitors to the archipelago will be able to get to where they want with ease with a mix of trains, busses, and of course the mighty Shinkansen bullet trains that japan is famous for.

But there are a few situations where you might be better of opting for a hire car to drive around Japan.

Which Area Of Japan Is It Better To Hire A Car?

Here are the places in Japan where a rental car can come in useful


driving hokkaido

There’s one island of japan where a hire car will make your travel a lot easier, and that’s the northern island of Hokkaido. It’s much less populated than other Japanese islands and is a prime destination for nature lovers.

While Hokkaido does have a reasonable transport system of trains and busses if you are heading to the beautiful eastern areas of the island a rental car is probably the way to go.

Rural Kyushu

Kyushu also has a lot of beautiful nature that can be easily visited by car. The Aso area and Kurokawa onsen have limited public transport options so a rental car may make your Kyushu travel easier.


The tropical paradise of Okinawa is quite different from the rest of Japan and is more reliant on cars for getting around. Especially if you are heading to some of the islands such as Ishigaki a rental car may be your best bet for getting around.

Should You Rent A Car For Japanese Cities?

Rental Car In Japan cities

If your sticking to the major cities during your trip to Japan you’re almost always going to be better off skipping the rental and taking public transport and taxis.

Parking is not always easy in the big cities and can be expensive. It’s often quicker to catch the train or subway than crawling through traffic and searching for parking.

Get Your Internation Driving Permit Before Traveling To Japan

To drive a rental car in Japan you’ll need to be 18 years or older and have a valid license in your home country. You will also need to obtain an Internation Driving Permit

Skip The Sake

Japan has a very strict zero alcohol policy for those behind the wheel of a car. So if you are heading to a sake tasting or winery tour you’ll be better off taking another form of transport.

Driving In The Snow

Rental Car In Japan Winter

If you are heading up in the mountains in winter you may need snow chains as well. In the northern areas such as Hokkaido, your hire car should come with winter tires.

Similar Posts