Monday, September 9, 2013

Traveling to Japan: some peculiarities when renting a car

The best way to explore a new country you travel to, to learn more won wonderful places located outside the large metropolitan areas is, for sure, renting a car. The Japanese countryside has a lot of inspiring places to show you and renting a car can sometimes be the best solution to visit most of them. Sure, Japan is known for its superior public transportation network, so getting anywhere by bus or train won't be much of a problem. In case you don't want to rely on fixed schedules (most of which are available only in Japanese) and need a certain level of freedom and comfort, addressing one of the many car rental companies is definitely a good idea in Japan. Though, there are certain peculiarities to renting a car in this amazing country, so you may want to learn about them first before booking the rent. Why is driving in Japan so special? The main difficulty for most travelers in Japan is of course the fact that the traffic is left-handed, which can be a major problem for anyone from a right-hand traffic country who has never tried driving in different circumstances. Of course, you will get used to it over time, but if you have no such experience, this can be rather confusing and problematic at first. What's more important, assuming that all of the signs are in Japanese, you will have an additional stressing factor besides the traffic direction. That's why you have to think it with renting a car over if you're not completely sure of your driving abilities. The central and northern parts of the country get a lot of snow during the winter, with blizzards being rather common in the north. For those drivers who have no winter driving experience it's better to avoid renting a car, especially if they trying to visit the beautiful mountain regions - the roads there can be rather tricky even for experienced drivers. It's allowed to drive a car in Japan if you have either Japanese or International Driving License. That's why you need to inquire with your local Japanese embassy regarding the requirements for driving license in your very country, since the regulation may differ depending from where you come from. It's widely known that Japanese drivers tend to be very well mannered and are rarely seen in aggressive driving situations. Though, large cities are known for very heavy traffic, which can deliver a lot of stress even when dealing with polite and law-abiding drivers. If you don't plan anything except of staying within large metropolitan areas it's highly advised that you avoid car rentals and stick to the local public transportation. The stay in Japan won't cost that much than (both in terms of rental and parking fees) and will save you from a lot of hassle. Check the local car rental market You'll find many national car rental companies in Japan, so finding a car to rent won't be a problem. As a rule these companies are affiliated or even make part of large car manufacturer holdings, so you are likely to get a selection of a particular car brand when addressing a particular company. Moreover, there are some international car rental companies on the market, but they mostly act as intermediaries between foreign tourists and local car rental companies, providing multilanguage service based on local car rental market that is usually available only in Japanese. It won't be much of trouble to find any type of car from sub-compact to SUVs and minivans. Keep in mind, the rates can be rather high depending on the car type and the place you're renting from. You have to understand, car rental can be rather pricey in Japan when comparing it to other countries. But at least you will surely find services to rent a car from all around the country. What about extras? In most car rental companies all over the world extra features aren't much different, Japan is no exception. Some companies will have additional drop-off fees when returning a car to a different spot. Hokkaido car rental companies generally do not accept car drop offs anywhere outside Hokkaido and vice versa. Despite the fact GPS modules are usually available by default with most cars, take care since they rarely offer any language other than Japanese, so you may want to bring your navigator with you. Normally car rental companies use the 24-hour rate system, though you may find services by the hour or by calendar day as well. You have to pay a small fee when you return a car without a full tank, but you have to inquire about that with the services. Anyways, other extras such as child seats, roof racks and other features are widely available against reasonable fees, so you won't feel any difference when renting a car in Japan.

1 comment:

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