[Access] How to rent a car in Japan

rent a car in Japan

How to rent a car in Japan

There are several different access methods to go to Shirakawago. Usually, you can go to the cities nearby (Kanazawa, Toyama, and Nagoya) then transfer bus or rent a car to Shirakawago.

  1. It takes 2.5 hours from Tokyo to Kanazawa or Toyama by Shinkansen.
  2. You can also take Shinkansen to Nagoya and then take JR to Takayama.

Nippon Rent A Car

Except for the bus, the most flexible and easiest transfer way is by car, and the travel time is the same as taking a bus.

  1. From Kanazawa and Toyama to Shirakawago is 75 minutes.
  2. From Takayama to Shirakawago is 50 minutes.
  3. From Nagoya to Shirakawago is 3 hours.
  4. From Tokyo to Shirakawago is 5-6 hours.
  5. From Osaka to Shirakawago is 4-5 hours.
how to rent a car


Requirements to drive in Japan

Traveling around Japan by car is a nice choice, especially when going to suburban areas, it’s suitable for elder people and kids. However, if you want to rent a car in Japan, there are several things that need to be aware in advance.

  • You need to over 18 years old.
  • You need to have an international driving permit or driving license with authorized Japanese translation.

If your driver license is issued in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Taiwan, Slovenia or Monaco you also need to present the authorized Japanese translation license.

(please check https://www.nipponrentacar.co.jp/english/user-guide/driverslicense.html for more information)

  • In Japan, it’s right-hand drive, and you must drive along the left-hand side.
  • Please follow the Japanese traffic rules, remember the fine in Japan is double or even triple times than most of the places.
  • Please buy the insurance if you would like to rent a car.


For driving in Snow area

  • Equip studless tire/snow tire

After November, the Hokuriku area might have started snowing, therefore if you rent a car in Toyama, Kanazawa, and Takayama, the car renting company will prepare the studless tire for you. But if you rent a car from Tokyo or Osaka, please inform your car renting company that studless tire is needed.

  • Please rent a car with all-wheel drive

Driving in the snowy area, all-wheel drive is much safer.

  • Keep the safe distance when driving

Please keep double distance than you used to for safety reasons because the driveway is very slippery in winter.

  • Hit the break gently, stable your steering wheel while driving.

Car renting process

There are many car renting companies, we will take “Nippon rent a car” and “Toyota rent a car” as the demonstration.

Nippon Rent A Car

Toyota rent a car

Nippon rent a car

  1. Choose the Language
  1. Choose the branch by entering the place or search by map. (please type in the name of the place in Japanese English spelling), here are the examples.

Chubu (central area)→Ishikawa→Kanazawa

Chubu (central area)→Toyama→Toyama-shi

Chubu (central area)→Aichi→Nagoya-shi

Kanto (east area)→Tokyo→choose the branch that is nearest to you

Kinki (west area)→Kyoto or Osaka→choose the branch that is nearest to you

  1. The nearest rental car rental branches of Shirakawa-go are in Kanazawa and Toyama
kanazawa branch

JR Kanazawa station west exit

1-9-25 Hirooka, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa
Telephone number: 076-263-0919


JR Toyama station north exit, 1 minute by walking

24-5 Ushijima-cho, Toyama-shi, Toyama

telephone number: 076-441-1022

Toyama airport

Please go to the Nippon rent a car counter in the arrival hall, they will arrange the pickup service.

91-1 Akigashima, Toyama-shi, Toyama

telephone number: 076-495-3138


Nagoya station

There are three branches near JR Nagoya station, the nearest one is at exit “Taikoutori”, 5 minutes walking distance

1-1-16 Meieki, Nishi-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi

telephone number: 052-571-0919


4. Choose the car type and other options and services

Please choose the car type, you can choose studless tire (snow tire), ETC (the highway pay methods), and insurance (highly recommended).


5. Confirm your order

Finally, please confirm your order, and fill out the driver’s license and the issued country with all the details, then you have successfully made the reservations.

Please notice that they won’t charge if you cancel 7 days before, however, there is a cancellation fee if you cancel it within 6 days.

6. How to take your car

Please bring all your documents (passport, driver’s license, international driving permit, authorized Japanese translation) and the credit card you registered on the website to the branch and take your car.

*They accept most of the credit card, such as Visa, Master, American Express and JCB, except UnionPay.

7. Prepare your travel schedule

It might be hard to type Japanese on the GSP, but don’t worry there’s English version, and you can prepare the MAP CODE as well, or just simply type in the telephone number.

8. How to return the car

Please remember the petrol type and fill up the tank before returning the car.

(*picture resource:official website)

Toyota rent a car

1. Select Shop, date and car type

Toyota has two branches in Takayama, which Nippon rent a car do not have, therefore, if you plan to rent a car in Takayama Toyota rent a car is your best choice.

Just simply choose “perfection” →Gifu → Takayama City → Takayama station

The store is just in the front of the Takayama station. From JR Takayama Sta., go east for about 50 meters. Hida-Takayama Washington Hotel Plaza 1F.

  • Address: 5-20 Hanasato-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu 506-0026
  • Telephone number:0577-36-6110
  • Operation hour:08:00 – 20:00 (Jan. 04 – Dec. 31) 09:00 – 17:30 (Jan. 01 – Jan. 03)

2. Select Options

Such as insurance, baby car, ETC and studless tire (snow tire).

3. Confirmed the price and fill up your information


4. Double check all the details and confirm

Toyota rent a car also have cancellation fees.

5. Bring your driver license, passport and credit card to take the car you book

For more detail please see the official website Toyota rent a car.

(*picture resource: official website)

Hope everyone could have a nice road trip. Driving in Japan not only can enjoy the nice view but also there are many special local products only sold in highway rest stop, this is one of the fun parts. When you are driving please follow the traffic rules and be careful.