Japan

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  • Japan has a fascinating history, including long periods as a mystery to the western world. Since the 19th Century Japanese culture has become more widely known, particularly its art, poetry, food and animation, leading to an increase of tourist desire to visit this remarkable country.
  • Although public transport in Japan’s big cities is renowned for its efficiency, you’d be mistaken for thinking it will show you the best of the country. Quite simply, Japan is an amazing place to drive, with some of the most stunning routes anywhere in the world. By hiring a car, you will have the opportunity to see and experiences places other tourists will miss.
  • We could recommend literally dozens of scenic routes, but a favourite is the trip across the Tsunoshima Bridge. The bridge takes you from the Japanese mainland to the remote island of Tsunoshima and makes you feel as though you’re actually driving on the water.
  • Speed Limits in Japan are lower than many other countries and it’s important to pay attention and adhere to local signage. On national highways the limit is 100 km/h and 60 km/h on other roads. Unless otherwise signalled urban speed, limits are generally 40 km/h.
  • Temporary visitors from most countries, including the UK require an International Driving Permit. These are valid for one year, after which you would need to acquire a Japanese driving license. UK License holders click here for more information on obtaining an International Driving Permit.

Some rules of the Japanese road

  • Drive on the left side of the road.
  • Drivers must be 18 or older.
  • It is a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt in both the front and back of vehicle.
  • Drink driving is strictly prohibited in Japan and the blood alcohol limit is 0.03%. We recommend avoiding any alcohol when driving in Japan. 

Car hire in Japanese airports

 

Japan is one of the world’s and most important regions for trade, business and culture, as such it is served by four international airports. These airports are located close to the cities of Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Osaka (Kansai) and Nagoya (Chubu).  Narita is Japan’s busiest international airport, handling just under 40 million, whereas Haneda is the busiest for domestic travel, handling 85 million passengers in 2017.

 

Although it may be possible to arrange car hire on arrival in Japan it will save you time, money and stress to book in advance through Enjoy. We partner with local hire car providers throughout the world to bring you the best deals. Hire costs start from around £315 p/w depending on vehicle selection. Use our search tool to find the best options for your trip.

 

Guide to Japan

 

Japan is an archipelago nation consisting of almost 7000 individual islands though 97% of the country is made up by only five of these. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the West, the Sea of Japan. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries with urban areas home to over 90% of the country’s population. Tokyo is the nation’s capital city and has a metropolitan area home to some 38 million people.

 

Early History

 

Archaeological evidence suggests parts of the Japanese archipelago were inhabited around 32,000 years ago followed by further habitation by a variety of peoples over the following 15-20,000 years. However, it wasn’t until the first century BC that Japan appeared in recorded history when it was mentioned in the Chinese history Book of Han as 倭 ( from the Chinesse Wō or Wa for Japan). During the classical era Japan was heavily influenced by China including in Buddhism and later Confucian philosophies.

 

World War II

 

During the second world war Japan was one of the Axis powers along with Germany and Italy. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour led to a devastating response from the United States which included the dropping of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered unconditionally in August 1945 and the nation renounced its right to declare war.

 

The Land of the Rising Sun

 

This popular nickname comes from Japan’s location being so close to where the sun first rises (from a Chinese perspective). By chance this name reflects the elements of Japanese culture deeply connected to nature and the environment, including its poetry, costume and tradition of gardening. Haiku poetry, often inspired by nature, originates in Japan usually consists of three lines, made up of a specific syllable content for each line.

 

Only Mount Fuji

is left unburied

by young leaves.

 

(Yosa Buson, 1716 – 1784)

 

Places to visit in Japan

 

Kenroku-en Garden

 

This spectacularly beautiful garden demonstrates the traditional Japanese garden in all its glory. Located close to Japan’s west coast it is around four hours from Nagoya and six from Tokyo, so you may wish to consider a stopover visit to the area. Developed between the 17th and 19th Centuries Kenroku-en is known as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan and contains the nation’s oldest fountain. The garden is located beside Kanazawa Castle, also worth a visit. Click here for information on admission and car parking.

 

Mount Fuji

 

At 3,776 metres Mount Fuji is the highest point in Japan. It is an active volcano but hasn’t erupted since 1707. The mountain and surrounding area is one of significant natural beauty and comes top on the to-do list of most tourists to Japan. For the best views of Mount Fuji alongside other activities we recommend a visit to the Fuji Five Lakes region. As you might guess from its name this region contains five lakes at the base of Fuji. It’s an excellent place to enjoy the views, the water as well as hiking and relaxation. All of this is within a 90 minute drive from Tokyo.

 

The Hakone Open-Air Museum

 

Opened in 1969 this was Japan’s first open-air museum and features artworks from some of the world’s most renowned artists.  The open-air element of the museum features over a hundred permanently displayed sculptures spread across the park. Buildings containing works by Picasso, Hepworth and Moore are a key attraction. You can’t buy tickets in advance outside of Japan so wait until you arrive where it will be possible to book online or at the museum itself. Be sure to check out opening times. The museum is located approximately a 90 minute drive from Tokyo.

 

The City of Nara

 

Of course, if you can, you should visit Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto but don’t neglect Nara. Once the capital of Japan, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts some of the most beautiful temples and monuments as well as the Nara National Museum. Only a 40-minute drive from Osaka, on the route to Kyoto, this is a must stop location for tourists wishing to take in as much of Japan’s rich history as possible.

 

Getting to and from Japan

 

Japanese Airlines (JAL) is Japan’s flagship carrier flying from both Tokyo and Osaka and offers routes both domestically and internationally. There are regular flights to Tokyo and Osaka from most major European, North American and Asian airports. Other major airlines with routes to Japan include British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia.

 

Popular Japanese airlines

FAQs about Japan car hire

 

How far is Osaka from Tokyo?

 

Tokyo is approximately a six-hour drive from Osaka. Although it is possible to make this trip in one day, you’d be wise to make a stop along the way to really appreciate some of Japan’s amazing countryside locations.

 

How long is a flight from London to Japan?

 

A direct flight from London to Osaka or Tokyo takes approximately 11-12 hours.

 

What is Japan’s currency?

 

The currency in Japan is the Yen, with £1 being equal to around 138 Yen. Japanese notes usually come in the form of 1000, 5000 and 10,000.

 

What does it cost to hire a car in Japan?

 

This varies depending very much on the type of vehicle you are looking to hire. A typical economy car will start from around $315 p/w with a larger vehicle being closer to $400. Luxury vehicles will cost significantly more.

 

Should I hire a car at the airport?

 

Although this may be possible it makes more sense to book your hire vehicle in advance. There are a couple of benefits to doing this, firstly you will have a far greater vehicle choice and secondly you will usually get a better price. Use our search tool to find the best available deal from our local partners.

 

Is it easy to drive in Japan?

 

There are some similarities between driving in the UK and Japan. Drivers in both countries use the left-hand lane, with the driver on the right. However, it is important to remember that Japan is a different country with its own laws and practices. That said, roads are maintained well, Japanese drivers are generally courteous and careful and if you do a little research beforehand, driving in Japan should be a pleasant experience.

 

Can I hire a car in one city and return it to another?

 

This is entirely possible but there will be a one-way fee to pay so you should factor this into your car hire costs. 

 

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