Rent a Car at Tokyo International or Narita International
There are two international airports serving the Japanese capital. Tokyo International (also known as Haneda Airport) and Narita International. Of the two, Tokyo International is closer to the centre of the city, but both offer regular direct flights to and from a number of global destinations, including London, Paris and Beijing. It’s also very easy to pick up a rental vehicle from either airport, as you will find several rental agencies at both.
From Tokyo Airport, the city centre is around 30 minutes by car. From Narita International, the centre is about an hour by car.
Rent a Car in the Centre of Tokyo
Travellers who are not flying into Tokyo, or who would rather pick up their vehicle in the city, will find plenty of rental companies in the centre to choose from. There isn’t one particular area of Tokyo where car hire offices are clustered. However, you will typically find them close to major train stations. If you are travelling into the city via Tokyo Station, you'll discover plenty of car hire agencies (including ORIX and Nissan) close by.
Driving in Tokyo
To drive in Japan it is very likely that you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP). It’s also worth bearing in mind that many streets aren’t named, so you may find it easier to get around if you book a vehicle that comes with English-language satellite navigation.
The city of Tokyo is looped by a network of toll roads called the Shuto Expressway. If you think you will be using these roads, it may be worth arranging an electronic toll collection (ETC) card with your hire vehicle. This will allow you to pay your tolls once you return the car instead of making payments every time you use the expressway.
Road Trips from Tokyo
The best thing about hiring a car in Tokyo is that it gives you the freedom to discover the surrounding region. After spending some time in the city exploring the Meiji Shrine, partying in Roppongi and brushing up on your history at the Tokyo National Museum, why not hop in your hire car and leave the city limits? To reach Mount Fuji, head southwest on the Tomei Expressway – you might not feel like climbing it but you can certainly take some fantastic photos!
Other great day trips include Kamakura, home of the Great Buddha of Kotokuin, the small island of Enoshima (accessible by bridge), and Chiba Castle. All these places can be reached in around one hour by car.