On Friday, my wife and I decided that we’d rent a car to go to Costco, rather than take the train all the way to the Kanazawa store in Yokohama, dealing with the crowded Seaside Line and a sick toddler, and spending money to have most things delivered. In the end, it cost us about the same, it was faster, and we could run around and do some other errands, such as take our daughter to the doctor for her stomach virus.
Well, we rented the car in the morning, and it cost us less than 4000 yen for a small car. We got a Nissan March (could’ve chosen a Toyota Vitz, but I wanted the instrument panel in front of me, not in the middle of the dash) and it was lavender. Since we were driving only a short distance, we didn’t have to fill it up with gas, and only paid a bit for the gas at the end.
So, when we rented the car, we had to show driver’s license and health insurance. I have a Japanese driver’s license, so I can only drive in Japan! They did a check on the car, walking around it to make note of any current damage. Once all of that was done, we strapped in the baby car seat and went on our way.
Driving in Japan is a bit different. Although the rules are mostly the same as in Canada, we have to drive on the left side of the road in Japan, with the steering wheel on the right. This is actually an easy adjustment for me. The only difficulty I have with the car is that the turn signal and windshield wipers are opposite. Many streets are very narrow in Japan, and a big problem for me is blind corners. Far too many of them! And then there are all the people who stop on the street and turn on their hazard lights. It’s not easy to get around those cars because they occupy most of the lane. But otherwise, it’s fairly easy to drive if you have a car navigation system. We didn’t get one. Our route was quite direct, so we relied on my iPhone’s Google Maps app instead.
Parking is something I have to get used to in Japan. In Canada, we’d normally just park in a space driving forward. In Japan, everyone backs into a parking space. Easy to get out, but not so easy to get in.
When returning the car, I drove back to the rental shop by myself. For some reason, I find it easier to drive alone.
Renting a car in Japan is fairly easy, and some places will accept cash. Most places prefer credit cards, though. But since I don’t have a credit card, I need to find a place that doesn’t require them. Where we rented the car, the staff was quite nice. We’ll probably be renting from them again. And now, some car pictures!
Have you experienced renting a car in Japan? Share your experiences in the comments!