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Renting Car in Japan

Renting Car in Japan

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Old Sep 22, 19, 10:59 am   -   Wikipost
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Miscellaneous points regarding car rental (for rental insurance / waiver tips, scroll further down):
- 3 items you must have when picking up the car: Passport; Driver's License; International Driving Permit.
- If you're going to waive the agency's CDW, then I highly suggest you carry with you your credit card company's Proof of Coverage letter. Call your card company's insurance/claim department and ask to email you such document.
- There are 3 types of rental car agencies in Jpn: Legacy agencies (大手 [oh-te] agencies); Budget chains (格安 [kakuyasu] agencies); independent places some of which are kakuyasu.
- In general, try to go with legacy places. Those include: Nissan; Nippon; Toyota; Times; Orix; Budget; Eki.
- Try to avoid kakuyasu places. Those include: Ones; Niconico. I have firsthand experience with Ones. They were terrible, and they gave me a jalopy with dents and rusts everywhere, >200k km on it, on the verge of breaking down. Even then, they still dared to inspect the vehicle upon return with fine tooth comb to look for any new damage they could ding me for. Even if the vehicle comes with Navi, it will probably be outdated and unreliable.
- In Sapporo / CTS, there are 3 agencies that specialize in Honda cars, and they all contain the name "Honda." But each one is actually a local independent operation. I've rented from Honda Rent-a-Lease, and they were fine. I still would've preferred renting from one of the legacy agencies. Honda Rent-a-Lease's insurance and waiver programs had a lot of restrictions, higher deductibles and loopholes not seen with companies like Orix.
- Because the 3 agencies in Sapporo/CTS featuring Honda cars have similar names, this creates much confusion. For example, Honda Rent-a-Lease (ホンダレンタレース北海道)has website www.hondarentacar.jp, while Honda Rent-a-Car (ホンダレンタカー) has website www.hondarent.com. To avoid confusion, always match the agency's phone # on your reservation with the phone # listed on the website you're looking at.
- Japanese agencies are very particular about noting any little scratches and dents. Make sure you inspect the vehicle carefully and document every little thing at the time of pick-up.

Booking rental cars in English:
- For information regarding booking rental cars in English, refer to these posts in this thread: 30, 34, 37-38, 40, 105. [This will need to be updated continuously.]
- English versions of Japanese rental car company websites will often show higher rates than Japanese versions, or Japanese OTA sites such as Rakuten Travel (Japanese version). But you can use translator tools to navigate through and book on Japanese website. Post 105 has good tips.

Car Navigation system ("Navi"):
- Ask staff to set up GPS for English interface, though not all options or display will be in English. In some cases certain options would be completely inaccessible through English interface, such as searching for the closest gas station.
- Phone look up doesn't always work with in-car system as new hotels and businesses wouldn't be in there.
- Google Maps works quite well overall, but it doesn't offer Map Code or phone lookup.
- Japanese language mapping sites and apps offers the best and most up-to-date lookup.

Important Driving Tips:
- You cannot turn on red.
- You always have to come to a complete stop before proceeding at any railroad crossing, even when the arm is up and there are no trains nearby.
- Some green lights look blue.
- Speed limits may be lower than what you're used to.
- Road signs: http://www.ajetniigata.com/wp-conten...eroadsigns.pdf

Tolls:
- Toll fees can be estimated in English using the JapanTravel app by Navitime for free. Match the route visually to Google Maps.
- Tolls can be paid in cash or with "Electronic Toll Collection" ETC Card. Some agencies offer ETC card for rent and regional ETC X-day passes. Cash vs ETC toll fee can be a little different. https://en.driveplaza.com/expressways/toll.html
- Credit cards are accepted on national toll roads but usually not city toll roads.
- There are expressway passes for foreigners (similar in concept to the JR Pass); for a fixed fee based on duration, unlimited toll usage
- for the Central tokyo area, CEP pass: https://hayatabi.c-nexco.co.jp/cep/en/ Brochure link: https://hayatabi.c-nexco.co.jp/img/c...324727528.pdf
- for Hokkaido: https://www.driveplaza.com/trip/draw...expass/en.html
- for other regions, here's a good read up: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2354.html
- key to getting the expressway pass is that you have to reserve it direct with the car rental agency when you make your reservation, not all rental offices offers the expressway pass, so do check when making the reservation

Parking Tips:
- Pay parking lots take cash and some take IC Card.
- Parking meters which operate from XX-YY hours are closed outside those hours. It doesn't mean the parking spot is free outside those hours.

Insurance / Waiver:
General issues - Japanese car rental insurance/waiver
- Jpn car rentals generally automatically comes with insurances included.
- Those coverages include:
a).Third-party injury/death (対人補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "bodily injury/damage")
b).Third-party damage (対物補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "property damage")
c).Rental car damage (車両補償; Jpn rental agencies seem to translate it as "car damage" or "rented vehicle damage")
d).Renter's injury/death (人身障害補償; "personal injury", "physical injury", etc)
- The word 補償 literally means compensation but, in this case, it means insurance coverage.
- From my experiences, usually (a) coverage has no limit and (c) coverage is up to the value of the car at the time.
- Coverage amounts for (b) and (d) tend to vary amongst different agencies.
- From my experiences, usually (b) & (c) have deductibles, whereas (a) & (d) do not. Deductibles (=excess) are called 免責 (menseki) in Jpnese.
- CDW (免責保証制度) in Jpn actually waives any deductibles associated with above coverages (including what is essentially liability coverage in US). This is different from US where CDW only applies to rental car damage.
- In addition, there is what's called NOC (non-operation charge), which is the penalty assessed to you for the loss of rental car agency's revenue associated with the time that the car needs to be taken out of service for repair.
- Expect that any damage, no matter how minor, will invariably result in some type of NOC.
- NOC fee schedule/policies vary greatly by agencies.
- Most car agencies also offer NOC waiver for a fee.
- Many rental car companies stipulate that you must contact both the rental car agency and the police immediately upon any incident (including even minor damages to the rental car) that might invoke insurance coverage; failure to do may make the coverage null and void. In addition, some even stipulate that the rental is terminated at the point of the incident/accident. Some even go on to stipulate that you will not get any money back from the remaining portion of the rental.

Understanding your credit card coverage
- US credit card coverage is almost always only for your rented vehicle and does not apply to third-party damages (liability).
- Make sure you call and talk to your credit card company's insurance/claim specialist.
- Some of the key questions to ask:
* Any restrictions as to the country, car type, length of rental?
* Any limit on coverage, or does it cover up to the entire value of the car?
* Is the coverage primary, or secondary to your personal auto insurance?
* Any deductible?
* Does it cover NOC?
* If you have to file a claim, what's the required time frame and do you have to file a police report?
* Is it okay if the rental contract is not in English?
- In addition, it may be helpful to understand what your personal auto insurance covers in terms of liability (3rd party property/vehicle damage) in Jpn.

Example 1:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
My Japanese rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) 30mill yen coverage w/ 150k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 100k yen deductible
* (d) 20mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* coverages void for any windshield or tire/hubcap damage and any damage involving animal
* NOC 50k yen regardless of extent of damage
* CDW 1300y per day
* NOCW (NOC waiver): 600y per day
Decision-making:
1). Decline both CDW & NOCW --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (150k yen).
2). Buy CDW & NOCW (1900y/day) --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of windshield/tire/hubcap damage or animal collision (these would have been covered by my credit card).
3). Buy CDW only (1300y/day) --> risk responsibility for all items under (2) + NOC.
For me, (1) is almost the no-brainer choice, as it meant saving 1900y / day without measurable net loss of benefits.

Example 2:
My credit card coverage: Primary full coverage of rental car damage with zero deductible; NOC included; all coverages null & void if I accept any relevant coverage waiver from the rental car.
Toyota Rental car policy:
* (a) unlimited coverage w/ no deductible
* (b) unlimited coverage w/ 50k yen deductible
* (c) up to full value of car w/ 50k yen deductible
* (d) 30mill yen per person coverage w/ no deductible
* NOC 20~50k yen
* CDW 1080y per day
* DPP (Double Protection Package) = CDW + NOCW: 1620y per day
* Coverages void for any tire/hubcap damage, but such repair will be covered if you enroll in their DPP.
Decision-making:
1). Decline CDW/DPP --> risk responsibility for 3rd party damage deductible (50k yen).
2). Buy DPP --> eliminates virtually all risks, plus gain benefit of free roadside service for flats, etc.
3). Buy CDW only --> risk responsibility for rental vehicle damage in case of tire/hubcap damage (these would have been covered by my credit card or DPP) + NOC.
In this instance, I'd probably go with (2).
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Old Jul 10, 18, 11:25 am
  #46  
 
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Thanks for putting this together! Very helpful!
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Old Jul 10, 18, 4:16 pm
  #47  
 
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Map Codes are better than phone numbers because not all places have phone numbers ... like that little scenic water fall you want to visit, or a particular entrance (among many) to a national park. Or a scenic place has a phone number, but it's actually the local chamber of commerce office located miles away.

Google Maps - one time it led me to a closed Uniqlo when I was looking for one in Takayama. Phone number of the current location from the internet didn't work with the in-car GPS - as the lookup database is obsolete the day it leaves the factory.

The best I have found since, is Japanese GPS app. I use Mapfan. Has English voice prompt, but otherwise Japanese interface. It accepts phone and map code input, and has accurate up-to-date map data telephone lookup.
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Old Sep 22, 18, 7:16 pm
  #48  
 
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Any thoughts on how strict the rental companies are with their pick-up times before they cancel a reservation? I'm attempting to make car reservations a couple of months ahead of time and at this point I can make a decent estimate of the pickup times, but it's a bit of a challenge to pinpoint the exact time to the nearest half hour. These are not pre-paid reservations, and it seems like in the US the companies I deal with will typically hold your car an hour before cancellation. If I'm running late I could ask my hotel or ryokan to give them a call and ask for an extension, but it would be great to know if others have had any first-hand knowledge. Thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 22, 18, 11:30 pm
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Bago'peanuts View Post
Any thoughts on how strict the rental companies are with their pick-up times before they cancel a reservation? I'm attempting to make car reservations a couple of months ahead of time and at this point I can make a decent estimate of the pickup times, but it's a bit of a challenge to pinpoint the exact time to the nearest half hour. These are not pre-paid reservations, and it seems like in the US the companies I deal with will typically hold your car an hour before cancellation. If I'm running late I could ask my hotel or ryokan to give them a call and ask for an extension, but it would be great to know if others have had any first-hand knowledge. Thanks in advance!
I don't have firsthand knowledge, but I've sort of assumed it's similar to US. That is... if I'm going to be more than 30-60min late, I call the rental car agency and give them a heads-up. Or if my flight's delayed but I'm picking up at an airport location and the car booking has my flight info, then I don't worry too much. The only difference btwn the two countries may be that in Jpn they may try to hold you accountable for cancellation penalty in case a no-show or late arrival results in cancellation, whereas in US you're generally not going to be charged anything as long as it was a non-prepaid / no-deposit booking (at least that's been the case with Hertz and National).

I just googled to look up a few rental agencies' policies on this. Nippon, Orix and Times all say being >60min may result in cancellation unless you call.
https://rental.timescar.jp/faq/reservation/179.html
https://www.nipponrentacar.co.jp/faq/faq2.htm#03
https://car.orix.co.jp/userguide/faq_departure.html
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Old Sep 23, 18, 9:12 am
  #50  
 
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Thanks evergrn! I did notice that cancellation penalty -- I'm not expecting any issues but at this point I'll plan to call if I'm running late.
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Old Sep 24, 18, 1:13 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by Bago'peanuts View Post
Thanks evergrn! I did notice that cancellation penalty -- I'm not expecting any issues but at this point I'll plan to call if I'm running late.
I think as long as you call, and you pick the car up before the branch closes for the day, you should be fine.

I recently showed up 5 hours late to a Times Car Rental reservation, and they didn't seem to care too much. I still called ahead though.
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Old Oct 8, 18, 11:07 pm
  #52  
 
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Decline CDW?

Hi,
I'm looking at a Budget rental via Holiday Cars and it doesn't give an option to decline CDW. Is this normal for Japan? Similar to New Zealand where the CDW is mandatory with a rental?
Thanks.
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Old Oct 9, 18, 12:19 am
  #53  
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Originally Posted by GulkanaAlaska View Post
Hi,
I'm looking at a Budget rental via Holiday Cars and it doesn't give an option to decline CDW. Is this normal for Japan? Similar to New Zealand where the CDW is mandatory with a rental?
Thanks.
Generally speaking, you have the option to decline CDW in Jpn. However, you're trying to book through Holiday Cars. I'm not familiar with them and I'm not sure if they're 3rd party OTA or aggregator. But if you're booking with them, then perhaps that's their policy... that you can't decline CDW. You'd have to look into that. It's like when I travel for work and rent car in the US and I'm mandated to book cars through my employer's corporate travel agency. The corporate travel booking, in my case, will always include CDW and I have no ability to waive that.

The only other potential situation that I can think of where you can't decline CDW in Jpn is if you're booking directly with the agency but you happened to select a plan that includes CDW.
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Last edited by evergrn; Oct 9, 18 at 1:00 am
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Old Oct 9, 18, 1:46 am
  #54  
 
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Cheers. That helps a great deal.
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Old Oct 11, 18, 3:59 pm
  #55  
 
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If you book a rate where CDW is included, you can still take advantage of credit card coverage. Even if it's booked through a broker. Please call the CC insurance company to inquire re. what steps you need to take.

All Japanese rental companies I have used offer CDW as optional. Some discount rates many include CDW, as mentioned.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 9:23 am
  #56  
 
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Hi,

Thinking of renting a car on Okinawa. Any specific do and don'ts (as the speed limit is low etc I hope I don't have a hard time driving on the wrong side of the road).
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Old Oct 19, 18, 11:26 pm
  #57  
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Originally Posted by blitzen View Post
Hi,

Thinking of renting a car on Okinawa. Any specific do and don'ts (as the speed limit is low etc I hope I don't have a hard time driving on the wrong side of the road).
I rented from Times. They were good. I wanted to ease into things by not renting the car immediately upon arrival, but rather waiting a couple days before picking up the car. I rented from a location near the airport so that I could drop off my car and catch their shuttle bus to the airport on return. I chose a hotel close to the monorail (so I could hop on the monorail at the airport upon arrival and go straight to the hotel), spent the first day in Naha, then took taxi from the hotel to Times for the pick-up. Then had the car for the remaining days of our stay on the island during which we went everywhere else.

Driving in Okinawa is really not much different than driving most elsewhere in Jpn. Learning to drive on the wrong side is no easier/harder there than Kyushu or Hokkaido (of course it's not crazy like Tokyo or Osaka). I would certainly do it again. Driving in Naha was a bit hairy, but fairly easy elsewhere. One thing to note is that, although the island appears small, it takes a long time to go a relatively short distance. It took a good hour (possibly more) to go from the airport to Chatan. The only fast way to go up and down the island is via the expressway. I heard that gets crowded in the afternoon, though, so keep that in mind. If you want to take the scenic route along the coast from Chatan up past Nago, you're talking a couple hours.

Anyways, in Okinawa, I think you pretty much have no choice but to rent a car... unless you want to do bus tours or just hang out in Naha.
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Old Oct 22, 18, 1:23 pm
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Most rental chain locations downtown offer free pick up at your hotel. There is no drop charge for one-way rental between airport and downtown Naha.

Also taxi at Okinawa is a lot cheaper than the mainland.
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Old May 18, 19, 1:00 pm
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Rakuten Car rental is giving me 403 forbidden when I attempt to select a car rental region browsing from the US
Ex: Yamaguchi https://cars.travel.rakuten.co.jp/ca..._map_yamaguchi

It does seem to work if I use a VPN with Japan region. It looks like Rakuten's Content Delivery Network treats non-JP a bit differently these days as it worked a few weeks ago without VPN.
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Old May 18, 19, 4:19 pm
  #60  
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I noticed this a few weeks ago, but I just assumed it was a temporary thing. If this is still happening, thatís not good. Why would rakuten choose to block access? Maybe I will try contacting them.
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