The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Japan

Whether you are looking for the ancient or the modern, Japan has everything you could want in a vacation. You have a wide range of sites to visit and attractions to uncover in this beautiful country. You might want to visit ancient Kyoto temples, visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, or visit the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and the streets of Tokyo are interesting places to visit as well. There is something for everyone in Japan.

Renting a car in Japan

Renting a vehicle when you are visiting Japan for a vacation could be a good idea. It is often easier than the public transportation system, and you can move around to the areas you want to visit more freely. Foreign visitors are able to drive in Japan using both their national driver’s license and the international driving permit for up to a year after they enter the country.

The cost of gasoline and parking tend to be expensive in Japan, but you may still find it to be worthwhile to rent a vehicle, especially if there are a number of places you want to visit that are not as easily accessible by public transportation.

When you rent a vehicle, make sure you get the company’s phone number and emergency contact information in the event you need to get in touch with them before dropping off the car.

Road conditions and safety

The roads throughout most of the country are in excellent condition. You may find some unpaved roads in the rural areas, but overall, it should be easy to drive on the roads without worry. Most of the roads in the country are toll free. The highways that do have tolls cost about $1 per mile.

Most of the signs in Japan are in English and in Japanese. However, it is recommended that you know how to read Japanese if you are going to be driving, as it will be difficult to understand the road signs in many areas.

The majority of the drivers in Japan are considerate, careful, and they obey the rules of the road. However, traffic in the cities is often very thick, and there are still some drivers who will run red lights and not use their signals. You should be cautious of drivers and adopt a defensive approach to driving. In addition, keep in mind that if there is an accident, all of the drivers are liable. The police will then provide an estimate for the fault in an accident for each of the drivers.

In Japan, you are not allowed to turn at a red light. The only vehicles that can turn are those that have the green arrow signal.

Speed limits

Always follow the posted speed limits while driving in Japan. If the roads do not have signs showing the speed limit, you can use the following rule of thumb.

  • Roads – 60 km/h
  • Expressways – 100 km/h

Having a rental vehicle in Japan can make visiting all of the wonderful destinations the country offers much easier.


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