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car hire

London, United...
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432 posts
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car hire

Is car hire feasible at all as an alternate to using the trains? the cost for a JR card for me and my other half for 14 days is very high, and I like the freedom you have of having a car. Or will parking and urban driving be an absolute nightmare?

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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33 reviews
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1. Re: car hire

Please investigate the cost of car hire www2.tocoo.jp (one of the cheapest) and basic travel info in Japan with a guide book or online.

It's like asking if it is feasible to hire a car to travel in UK. If it's for London, the answer is obviously no, for the same reasons in Tokyo/Japan.

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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2. Re: car hire

also note that toll charges are very high in Japan, around 25yen/km. Use google maps for route search and calculate the approximate toll charges.

Japan
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661 posts
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3. Re: car hire

If you were going to be spending all your time in the countryside then a car could be useful. However, if you are going to be in the city then it is going to cost a lot. There is no free parking. Even hotels in large cities charge for parking. As mentioned, the highway system is not free. It is expensive. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto is approximately 12,000 yen. If the JR pass is too expensive you can look into using buses to get from city to city. Japanese highway buses are nice.

Beppu
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4. Re: car hire

The cost of train or bus is usually cheaper then renting car + highway toll, especially when you travel for longer distances and just in 2 people. If you were group of more people - let's say 4, it would be different. Anyway it depends on your plans - if you are going to stay in bigger cities, definitely suggest train or bus, because as it has been told here, here in Japan is no free parking and you must not park on streets. However if you wanna explore some really rural areas of Japan it is difficult to reach them by bus or train.

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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5. Re: car hire

As many have mentioned already, there is no point in having a car in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, etc. Also, trains are just about always quicker. The car is a lovely tool though if you will be hopping around quite a bit in the countryside. If you are going to stay put in one or two places for several days, then you don't need a car.

London, United...
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6. Re: car hire

Thanks for the advice so far - am considering staying in Tokyo for a few days, then hiring a car for 3-4 nights to visit places like Nikko, Nagano and surrounding scenery - before driving back to Tokyo and handing back the car. Does this sound sensible? Am just a bit worried on the trains I won't get much freedom to explore what looks to be beautiful scenery in this area.

London, United...
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7. Re: car hire

I've decided that I will probbaly hire a car from Tokyo and do a little tour of Nikko, Nagano, Takayama and Matsumoto for a few nights - as having a car will give us the freedom to explore the countryside properly. Also I do enjoy driving in foreign countries and the freedom it gives you.

However the main problem is going to be on the final day as I will need to drop the car off somewhere before getting the train to Kyoto. I don't want to drive to Kyoto from Matsumoto (where I'll spend the final night on the road trip) as the drop off charge will be extremely high - so am thinking of driving from Matsumoto to Odawara to get the Shinkansen to Kyoto from there, which should save me a journey driving into Tokyo, as well as the drop off charge at Odaware is pretty low - does this sound practical?

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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8. Re: car hire

adam... I am surprised you are finding car rental for an extended period of time cheaper than a JR pass.

You say a 14 day JR rail pass is too expensive. I've not noticed your exact dates and duration of your trip, but have you considered just a 7 day JR pass instead? If you plan your itinerary carefully, you won't need the pass while in Tokyo or staying put in other big cities, but it could well be cheaper and easier for visiting the other places mentioned, and you mention Nagano and other destinations which can be reached by shinkansen (bullet train) which is an experience I would recommend to any visitor to Japan. If your days away from cities are more than the 7 days, some places, eg Nikko can be reached by private train lines rather than JR, and these can be competitive against JR prices to the same destination (but, by the same token, some are more expensive).

If you search this forum, you'll find posts from DEs who know far more than I do on the way to maximise the rail pass or how to get about. I too am about to rent a car, but have been checking my route to avoid one way drop off charges and taking advantage of tocoo deals. We won't be using toll expressways, either.

Good luck with your research and enjoy your trip,

SWT

London, United...
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9. Re: car hire

SWT - I have planned the trip so we spend a few days in Tokyo, then hire the car around the mountains for a few days, then get a 7 day train pass to travel to Kyoto/ Hiroshima and Osaka.

I could drop the car off in Tokyo and get the train to Kyoto from there but I can see myself spending hours in traffic doing that, hence me wondering whether dropping it off in Odawara will be a better option.

Lewes, United...
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for Road Trips
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10. Re: car hire

Hi again. I've not researched the tocoo deal from Tokyo but I know on some of their deals, you don't pay extra to drop the car off at another town within the same prefecture. Odawara is probably a different prefecture from Tokyo, but if you're picking up the shinkansen, you might be able to drop it off at somewhere like Shinagawa which isn't too central. As to details of these places, you'll have to post a different question on the forum as I don't have prefecture details. You may find picking the car up from a suitably located suburb and returning it there works better in any case. Certainly, I can understand how you'd consider a car to drive between Nagano, Matsumoto and Takayama, depending on where else you wish to visit. We have had to reluctantly decide to skip visiting Kamikochi and the Kiso valley as they're too difficult or time consuming to get to without a car, for our October trip.

SWT