Japans has a wide network of transportation system with a train track exceeding over 27000km in combined length. Honshu is about 1400km across so thats a LOT of train tracks laid on such a small island. Train is awesome way travel but if you really want to get to the deep neck of Japan, car can be a very convenient tool.
Obtaining an international driving license in the U.S.A is INCREDIBLY easy, all you have do is write few forms, go to your local AAA office and pay them 20 bucks. Boom its done. I made it once back in Hawaii and was super easy. Here is a link to the U.S embassy in Japan explaining where to get it and how. If you are not from the US, please consult your nearest embassy for more details.
Here’s a short quote:
Obtaining an International Driving Permit
An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan.
IDP’s must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan. They cannot be obtained in Japan.
Note that IDP’s are not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. In other words, you must also have a valid U.S. state license in addition to an IDP to drive in Japan.
Follow these links to learn more about getting an IDP:
- Learn about getting your IDP from American Automobile Association in the U.S.
- Learn about getting your IDP from American Automobile Touring Alliance in the U.S.
- The Department of State has a special section on its web site concerning Road safety overseas including IDPs.
- You can locate the AAA office nearest you in the U.S. online.
Then again, driving in a foreign country can be scary, and you are right to be. I took a trip to Taiwan couple years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drive there unless I had suicidal tendencies. Fortunately, Japan isn’t that hard of a place to drive for average skill drivers but there are couple things you have to be aware before. I put together a short list and why you should be aware of them.
In Japan, right lane is considered the overtaking lane and if you drive there for too long, bound to get tailed so stay clear of the right lane on the Highway. Japanese drivers LOVE to get real close to you so try and not get too offended.
In most places, maximum speed limit on a Japanese highway is 80km/hr. BUT nobody really drives a that speed. Police will “usually” overlook up to 20km/her above the limit but of course, you don’t wanna test your fate.
This is no joke especially while driving in the back country. In Hokkaido, accidents involving deers in 2017 is 2430 cases! Whoa! That is about 7 deer a day! lol If you drive into a 300kg object at 80km/Hr, no deer burger for you for the rest of the trip so stay alert even during the day time.
There are numerous car rental companies like Toyota Rental Lease, TIMES, Budget and most of them runs around 5000 Yen/day so consider your budget and go places where most won’t dare go.
Hope you all have a safe trip.