Some can say that there are inconveniences about touring with a car in Japan. It is prohibited by the Japanese law, for tour guides to drive their customers in their own cars. They need a special taxi license which takes a long and difficult process to acquire and for that reason, it is expensive.
In which cases touring by car is recommended?
In Japan's main cities, a car tour or bus tour is mostly recommended for people with disabilities or people who can't walk only want to visit the main spots where cars can park near to.
Although most train stations have elevators and escalators, some smaller stations may leave you in the hand, having only regular stairs available or requiring you to walk long distances to reach its elevator exit.
But in the Japanese countryside and rural areas, cars are the most convenient transportation method. Those areas have much lower railway access if at all, making the access difficult if you don't have a car.
If you need to tour by car, the most recommended way is to hire and drive a car by yourself, then you can drive your family, friend and your tour guide anywhere with no problem.
What do I need to drive a car in Japan?
You will need a special permit to drive in Japan. Foreigners can drive in Japan with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for a maximum of one year, even if the permit is valid for a longer period.
International driving permits are not issued in Japan and you should obtain yours from your home country in advance. The permits are usually issued through your country's National Automobile Association for a small fee.
It is important to note that Japan only accepts the International Driving Permit based on the 1949 Geneva Convention. Please check if your country is in the list of the countries that are parties to the convention through this link.
Although it may seem complicated, it is quite simple to make your IDP and it is recommended for people who want to drive in Japan. Also, driving in Japan is not as difficult as one would imagine due to the English hand and the language. The roads are friendly, organized and simple to navigate.
Cost of renting a car
The average rental fees are around 5000 yen for a 24-hour period if you are hiring a sub-compact car. For a compact car, it would be 7500 yen. Mid-sized cars 10,000 yen, 15,000 yen for full-sized cars and 20,000 yen for vans.
Keep in mind that rates are sometimes increased during peak seasons.
Cost of Hiring a car with a driver
If you decide to hire a car with a driver for Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka the price will vary between around $300 ~ $400 dollars, or ¥30.000 yen ~ ¥40.000.
You can see car tours in Tokyo here: https://triplelights.com/japan/tokyo/cars
If you are going to other far away areas, the price of hiring a car with a driver could be higher, around $700 ~ 900 dollars.
That is all you need to know to decide if you need to hire a private car while traveling to Japan. I hope this article was useful, and please do not hesitate to contact Triplelights for anything you may need regarding your trip to Japan.