Rent a Car for Travel in Tokyo

Renting a car while visiting Tokyo provides maximum flexibility to explore the vast metropolis. With proper planning, language assistance, and following local driving laws, navigating Tokyo by rental car can be easy. Follow this guide for everything you need to know.

Finding a Tokyo Car Rental

Start by finding a rental car provider. Consider:

International Rental Companies

Major agencies like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, Europcar operate locations across Tokyo including both Haneda and Narita airports.

Local Japanese Brands

Local companies like Nippon Rent-A-Car, Toyota Rent-A-Car, Nissan Rent-A-Car offer lower rates but may have limited English support.

Peer-to-Peer Rentals

Services like Anyca allow locals to rent out their personal vehicles. Verify insurance policies when using peer rentals.

Aggregator Sites

Compare rates across multiple providers using sites like, Kayak, Skyscanner. Watch for hidden fees.

Tokyo Car Rental Companies

CompanyPick Up Locations
HertzHaneda Airport, Narita Airport, City Centers
AvisHaneda Airport, Narita Airport, City Centers
BudgetHaneda Airport, Narita Airport, City Centers
Toyota Rent-A-CarHaneda Airport, City Centers
Nippon Rent-A-CarHaneda Airport, Narita Airport, City Centers

Choosing a Rental Car in Tokyo

Consider the following when selecting a rental car in Tokyo:

  • Rental duration – Are you renting for a day or longer term?
  • Number of passengers/luggage – Choose a car that fits all passengers comfortably.
  • Locations – Will you stay central or take road trips outside Tokyo?
  • Fuel efficiency – Opt for hybrids, smaller cars for better mileage in stop-and-go Tokyo traffic.
  • Transmission – Automatic is far more common than manual transmission cars.
  • Features – GPS, WiFi hotspots, child seats, etc.
  • Cost – Balance size and features with rental fees.

Insurance Needs for Rental Cars

Insurance for Tokyo rental cars is crucial. Ask:

  • Is basic insurance included or will you need to add CDW (collision damage waiver)? Know what’s covered.
  • Should you purchase supplemental liability insurance for extra protection?
  • Does your credit card provide rental car coverage? Understand the benefits.
  • Are there exclusions like damage to windows, tires, roof or undercarriage?

Purchase adequate insurance for protection from large out-of-pocket expenses in case of damages or theft. The minimum coverage may not be sufficient.

Pick Up and Drop Off Locations

When booking, choose convenient rental locations and times. Options include:

  • Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) Airports – Easiest for flying into Tokyo.
  • Tokyo Station or other rail stations – Pick up a car right downtown.
  • City rental offices – Major agencies have locations across metro Tokyo.
  • Flexible return – Return to a different approved location for a small fee.

Review opening hours to avoid after-hours return fees. Factor in transit connections for pick up and drop off.

Driving Tips for Tokyo

Driving in Tokyo can be challenging. Prepare with these tips:

  • Use GPS and offline maps. Mobile data connectivity is inconsistent.
  • Pedestrians have right of way. Yield to pedestrians at intersections.
  • Parking is extremely limited. Use public transit in congested areas.
  • Avoid restricted central zones like Marunouchi and Kasumigaseki.
  • Watch speed limits. Enforcement cameras issue expensive tickets.
  • Be alert for narrow lanes and vehicles stopped ahead.

Rules of the Road in Japan

Follow these general rules when driving in Tokyo and Japan:

  • Drive on the left side of the road.
  • Seat belt use is mandatory. Children must be in approved safety seats.
  • Headlights must be on at all times.
  • Yield to all traffic from the right at intersections.
  • Strict legal limit of 0.03% blood alcohol content when driving.
  • Mobile phone use while driving is banned. Even hands-free systems are illegal.
  • Speed limits range from 30-50km/h in urban areas, 80-100km/h on highways.

Refueling Your Tokyo Rental Car

  • Review whether you must return the car with a full tank or can pay for unfilled fuel.
  • Refill close to your drop off location before returning the car.
  • Keep fuel receipts as potential proof of fill level.
  • Gas stations are mostly self-service. Have cash/credit card ready.

Dropping Off Your Rental Car

When it’s time to return your rental car in Tokyo:

  • Return during office hours to avoid after-hours fees.
  • Inspect the car fully with agent and note any new damage.
  • Keep rental agreement in case of later disputes about damages or fees.
  • Have fuel receipt available to show fuel level.
  • Get a $0 balance receipt from agent upon safe drop off.

Helpful Resources

Use these additional Tokyo car rental resources:

With the right car and preparation, cruising around Tokyo by rental car can provide the ultimate freedom to explore this amazing city.

Frequently Asked Questions about Renting a Car in Tokyo

What documents do I need to rent a car in Tokyo?

You’ll need a valid driver’s license, passport, and credit card in your name. An international driving permit is recommended but not legally required.

What is the minimum age to rent a car in Tokyo?

The minimum age is typically 20-25 years depending on the rental company. Underage fees apply for younger drivers.

Can I use my US or international license to rent a car in Tokyo?

Yes, you can legally drive using a valid foreign license for up to 1 year in Japan. An IDP makes the process easier but is not mandatory.

Are rental cars with automatic transmission common in Tokyo?

Yes, automatics are standard for most Tokyo rentals. Few offer manual transmission. Reserve early if you specifically need a stick shift car.

How expensive is car rental insurance in Tokyo?

Required basic insurance averages 500–2,000 JPY ($4-$18 USD) per day. Supplemental coverage can cost over 4,000 JPY ($35+ USD) per day.


Renting a car in Tokyo offers maximum sightseeing flexibility despite congested roads and limited parking. Preparation with an appropriate vehicle, insurance coverage, and study of local driving rules will allow for a smooth rental experience. Use this comprehensive guide to start planning your Tokyo road trip!


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