1. Find the Right Shop
Just as there are many car manufacturers in Japan, there are many rental car shops operating here. Japanese automakers, such as Toyota, Honda and Mazda, run their own rental car shops. Therefore, if you'd like to get a Toyota, search the net for Toyota rental cars in Japan.
If you are not a big fan of a specific automaker, a major rental car shop, Nippon (Japan) Rent-A-Car, can be a good option. It has many offices throughout Japan and with good cars across several automakers.
2. Make a Reservation
It's a common occurrence that rental car shops won’t always have enough cars in stock. If you walk into a shop without a prior reservation, it's quite possible that the shop won't have any cars to rent. Make sure you place your reservation in advance, using a driver’s license valid in Japan, or an international driving permit.
To make a reservation, you'll need to submit your name, a phone number you'll be using during your time in Japan, desirable car model and any special options (such as GPS navigation) and the number of passengers. The shop will also ask you the dates, times and locations of pick-up and return. Once your itinerary is fixed, call or e-mail a shop to make the reservation. More information about the process can be found below.
3. Procedures at a Rental Car Shop
When you arrive at the rental car shop, visit the application counter and tell your name to a clerk. They may request you to show your passport and driver’s license. Keep in mind that the rental fee depends on your desired car model, dates and times. Shop around for promotional deals or campaigns before you make your final decision. Once you've paid the rental fee, by cash or credit card, you'll be led out to examine the car's current condition, noting any scratches or dents. Once you are satisfied with the car and made sure you didn't miss any blemishes (so you won't be charged for them upon returning the vehicle), sign your name on the contract and trade it in for a brief guide explaining how to operate the vehicle.
4. Rules of Driving in Japan
If you have a driver's license, you should know the basics behind the wheel, but we'll cover them as expected of a driver in Japan. Before your departure, adjust your seat and mirrors, fasten your seatbelt and ensure all passengers fasten their seatbelts, even those seated in the rear. In Japan, we keep to the left while driving, which also means the position of levers, such as blinkers and windshield wipers, may be the opposite of cars in your country. Until you've gotten accustomed to these differences, be especially sure to drive carefully as you explore the vast wonders of Japan!