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ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 00:56
dear all,

we are planning our trip in Japan and we wish to enjoy it by rent a car.

our routes will be as follows:

tokyo, fuji, kyoto, himeji, osaka, matsumoto, nikko, tokyo

as far as I understood, more than one ETC passes are available for limited areas, and it looks we will cross 3 or 4 areas during our journey;

I will rent a car with ETC device, but:

will I need one more passes (10 or 14 days) one for each area we will cross?
Or ETC device will collect tools at full fare?
Does a global pass covering all area exist?

thanks all!
by Francesco (guest)  

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 12:00
First of all the places you are going are very accessible by train, which is reliable, affordable (particularly if you take advantage of passes and discounts available to foreigners) and a good way to see how the locals live.

Driving in Japan is slow, because speed limits are very low. There is no free parking, except for short stops at the supermarket or combini. The limit for alcohol in the blood while driving is zero. In Tokyo, at Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Himeji, and Osaka, a car would be a monstrous pain-the traffic is tricky, parking is limited and you will sit a long time in lines of cars. Once you are at Matsumoto or Nikko you might choose to hire a car for a day or two to visit some more out of the way sites.

We drove in Hokkaido and Chugoku-Chiho because in the trade-off between time and money, we chose to save time. In both those places trains are fewer and we were able to see a lot more than we could have by train in the time we had available.

For the ETC card, check with the provider of your hire car. We got a discount one (only for foreign tourists I think) in Hokkaido which was excellent value.

Have a wonderful time in Japan.
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 12:18
Which period are you planning to go to Japan.

Exploring Japan by car is suitable if you stay away from the big cities.
You are planning to visit tokyo, fuji, kyoto, himeji, osaka, matsumoto, nikko, tokyo which are better to reach by train. For example it takes 4 hours by car to go from tokyo to Osaka by car without traffic jam (depending which highway you take) The shinkansen is 1.40 min.

In Japan parking is expensive and often difficult in the big cities. Tokyo as areas which are car free zones.

Also another factor is the traffic jams around the big cities. I dont think you want to waste your time being in a traffic jam.

If you are planning to go to kyushu than car is a better option but in your case I would really advice to take the train.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 17:02
thanks all,

we are planning to visit Japan from the end of August till the beginning of Sept.;

our schedules as follows:

day 1 - Sat.
Leg 1: dist. 50 km - 50 min.

Tokyo Haneda int. Airport

Day 2 Sun.
Leg 2: dist. 260 km - 5 hrs 40 min

Monte Fuji
Lago Kawaguchi
Akurayama Sengen Park

Day 3 - Mon.
Leg 3: dist. 290 km - 4 hrs

Shirahige Shrine

Day 4, 5, 6,

Day 7 Fri.
Leg 4: dist. 220 km - 3 hrs 30 min.

Himeji Castle

Day 8 Sat.

Day 9 sun
Leg 5: dist. 380 km - 5 hrs 30 min.
Matsumoto Castle

Day 10 Mon.
Leg 6: dist. 240 km - 4 hrs
Matsumoto Castle

Day 11 Tue

Leg 7: dist. 180 km - 2 hrs 15 min.
Haneda Airport (car will be dropped off)

day 12, 13, 14

in Kyoto and Osaka, I expect to park the car at the hotel's spot (900/1200 Y/day?); before stay in Tokyo car will be dropped off at Haneda airport and we will transfer to Tokyo by train

I've tried to check our routes using trains instead of the car (by Google) unfortunately there are a lot of changes, the time needed will dramatically increase, and we will often handle our luggage, furthermore, we are travelling with our 9 yr old daughter and I'm feeling comfortable having my own car.

This is our very first time in Japan, we have travelled by car, a lot in the United States, last summer 10.000 km in 16 days, so probably I'm addicted by car :)

by Francesco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 17:53
Ďày two is three days worth of sights. No way you do it all in one day.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 18:03
day 2 noted - of course, we will not "climb" Mount Fuji, we will just turn around it with a few stops to have rest and pictures

coming back in topic: how can I pay tools by ETC if I will cross different highway areas?
by Francesco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 18:25
I googled ETC pass Japan and found this:

Also I don't know where you usually drive apart from the US but Japan is right hand drive ie the opposite of the US.

Enjoy your trip.
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 22:50

understood some tools are not included in the flat fare of JEP; I wonder whether I can still use ETC to pass these gates and pay the relevant tools once I will drop off the car. Do you know it is possible or I have to pay at General Gate in cash/credit card to the attending staff?

by Francesco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 23:07
Just to be clear, the pass noted above does not cover the ETC fees in the Metro Tokyo and Metro Osaka area according to this article.

and is shown on this map on the official page as well:

I think what Hakata is getting at is you can spend an entire day easily in Kamakura. Some of us could easily spend 2 or 3 days. Parking can be a pain there unless where you are staying has parking attached. I say this from personal experience, as I met a friend in Kamakura who drove from his house elsewhere in Kanagawa-ken in 2016. Zenrai Benten wasn't awful for parking, but the situation around Hasedera and the Daibatsu was terrible. We were there on a week day.

Generally, the big things to do in Hakone are use an onsen and travel by various public transport means around the Hakone area. I don't know if the ropeway has parking near it. If you can't figure out parking ahead of time I would just just skip Hakone.

Most people who visit Kawaguchiko spend a day there.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/14 23:41
I've visited Japan 6 times in the last 12 years, done the car rental thing twice, it's an amazing adventure!
But NOT for the trip you have planned, like "Who?" said above all these areas are accessible by train or other public transport and it's reliable, reasonably priced and very convenient.

You can't compare Japan to USA, Japan is built around the rail network, USA is built around the car.

If you were touring Kyushu or areas more rural and harder to access by train a car is a fine choice.

My next input (yeah I know I'm not actually answering the questions) is that your schedule is very fast paced in two regards. First you will be in a car driving most of the time and when you do stop to enjoy the places you are traveling to you won't have enough time. IMHO. Road speeds are slow and driving at night is not much fun, you only have so many hours of sunlight each day.

And don't skip Hakone as mentioned above, it's one of my absolute favorite places in Japan (don't miss the Open Air Museum!)
by Bjoorn rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/15 00:35
I suppose that on railway basis, I need to reschedule all the trip... however just for example, going from Hakone to Arakurayama Sengen Park, by train, according to google maps will take abt 3 hrs..., I'm thinking I'm missing something... maybe need to forget a "loop route" and try to have base in Tokyo and Kyoto or Osaka and going and come back from / to
by Francesco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/15 01:47
Hi Francesco,

I think what you are missing is sometimes the fastest route or most frequent route or both between locations is by bus.

But in terms of your Day 2, you are just trying to fit a lot in one day unless you have the ability to teleport. The whole point of Hakone is sort of taking things slow. I personally am not fond of Hakone. I've been 4 or 5 times and outside of going during hydrangea season I can happily skip it. But it's unclear what you are really expecting or hoping to do there. It's very easy and cheap to get there by train from Kamakura (I've done it) but unless your goal is, drive to Moto-Hakone stare at lake for 15 minutes then head to Arakurayama Sengen Park, you're just packing a lot in a single day. Generally, people do at least 1 day in Hakone and at least 1 day in Kawaguchiko.

It's like your Day 3. So assuming there is nothing in Shizuoka you want to do in the morning, you get up get dressed and are on the road at 8:00 am, it's going to take you over 2.5 hours to get from Shizuoka to Nagoya in ideal traffic. We will pretend that happened, we will then pretend you have no problem getting to where you want to go within Nagoya and now have parking. It's now 10:30, say you spend 2 hours in Nagoya doing... something? I'm going to assume you leave your car parked in the same space that whole time because if not, each time you drive somewhere, you need to find some parking and it will slow you down! If your 9 year old is anything like my 8 year old, your child will want lunch so let's add another hour to your Nagoya time and now it's 13:30. It's another 2 hours to Shirahige Shrine in good traffic from Nagoya. It's now 15:30. We'll spend only 30 minutes there because kids can get bored at shrines or temples. It's 16:00 and you have around an hour to Kyoto in good traffic again. So you don't get in until 17:00. You're not going to be sightseeing in Kyoto that day much outside of evening activities. I mean maybe you want that, but this seems awful rushed and I say this as a fast paced tourer. If there was anything you actually wanted to do in Shizuoka this throws the entire schedule off and you're not going to have time to do anything in Shizuoka the day before.

Day 9 also has this problem. It's 5 hours in good traffic just from Nara to Matsumoto. You need to leave Nara by noon to get to Matsumoto by 17:00 and the Castle will already be closed. How are you spending time in both?

I am an American. I own a car and have to drive all the time because I live in the countryside where there is little to no public transport. My kid would revolt if I expected her to sit in a car 4-5 hours a day several days in a row. That is not a fun vacation for her or for me. I don't know where you were in the US, but I am going to assume you were likely in the mountain west or west where everything is super spread out and lots of places offer free parking and expressways have 70 mph speed limits. (And since we're talking about the USA here I'm going to use our crappy customary unit system and not convert to metric.) I can't imagine having a rental car someplace like NYC.

Honestly, I think you need to sit down and reevaluate your itinerary and figure out what everyone in your group most wants to see and do. I would also strongly consider just staying in Osaka or just staying Kyoto. It wastes a lot of time moving between the two to different hotels and there is really no reason to. The trips between them are not that expensive or hard. Getting to Himeji from Kyoto is not that bad. I've noticed a lot of Hikaris end in Okayama, so you should be able to take a shinkansen directly from Kyoto. Going to Nara is also perfectly easy from Kyoto. The same holds true if you would rather stay in Osaka the whole time. The only caveat I would have to hotel changes would be if you were planning to go to USJ but I would never go on a Saturday and you don't have any other options outside Saturday, since Friday you are also trying to see Himeji!

As a few people have mentioned, Kyushu definitely seems someplace a rental car would come in handy and I think if you wanted to explore the Kii Peninsula, various locations in Tohoku or Hokkaido a car would definitely come in handy. I could even see renting a car to get around Kawaguchiko, I think it's the trying to fit Kawaguchiko and Hakone all into one day of touring that people are objecting to. If you had an overnight in Hakone, you would leave your car at your hotel/ryokan while sightseeing and would pick it up to then travel to Kawaguchiko and again leave it at your hotel/ryokan at night. The back tracking to return the car at Odawara to avoid fees (though you could see how much the fees would be to drop off in Mishima instead) would not take a huge hit out of your train travel to Nagoya.

I'm going to note now that Hokkaido, Tohoku and Kyushu all have their own special ETC passes for tourists because all of these areas know some areas just have limited access and this is a good way to get tourists there. I think Chubu might as well, but Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are not wanting in the tourist department.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/15 10:15
The last few responses have been great. Take note of the insight they have shared.

I think what you (the OP) is attempting to do is spedd up your itinerary by driving around. But two problems esist with that thinking.

1. The itinerary is just too packed. You need to drop a few locations. Car or train. It cannot be done.

2. Cars in USA move just as fast as cars. Train in Japan xan move up to 3x faster than cars.

I really think point 1 is the cause of all the issues involved. And you need to go back to the start and redo you itinerary.

One day Hakone. One day Kawaguchiko, etc etc.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/15 10:18
2. Cars in usa move same max speed as train. Trains in japan move up to 3x faster than cars.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: ETC pass, collecting tool for different areas 2019/2/15 10:21
rkold paints a very good picture, I think. I'd forgotten what it's like to travel with kids but mine at that age would have staged a mutiny if I'd made them sit in a car for hours on end every day on what was meant to be holidays.

I'd suggest three hours on a train is a lot more fun and a lot freer (you can get up and walk around, go to the loo, etc) than driving. There's a lot to see out the window, and people watching to get on with. I appreciate the changing looks like a lot of fiddling around but the driving scenarios are best case, which aren't always the way the day goes. Whereas the trains will be there when they say they will.

You might have a better time jumping on the train to Kamakura from Tokyo for a day trip. Then head to Hakone, stay overnight, have the day there then doing a loop around the area and stay another night somewhere else (I haven't been so can make no suggestions about how to do that). After the two nights, go back to Odawara by train and catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto. You could stop in Shizuoka for the night here if you wanted to.

Stay in either Kyoto or Osaka (as others have said, don't bother changing hotels, it's easy and quick to train in between) and do day trips by train to Nara, Himeji, and either Kyoto or Osaka, depending where you aren't staying. Take the Shinkansen to Nagoya. You could have a night there if you like, or head directly from there to Matsmoto for a night or two. You might want a car in Matsumoto to see some more remote things.

I'd then head back to Tokyo, maybe stay a night, or not, and head to Nikko on the train, maybe get an overnight package. You could hire a car to go to the waterfall if you want to.

You then wind up back in Tokyo ready for your flight home.

On another note, you're doing more moving around than I would choose for that length of holiday, but everyone is interested in different things. If you spend a day or two in Kyoto proper you could drop Kamakura (which I love, but if it's your first trip the temples and shrines might get a bit wearing, particularly for the child) and add that day somewhere else. Similarly, while Nikko is lovely, it's also a lot of temples and shrines. You might enjoy fewer destinations more.

If you were interested in considering this you could use this calculator to see if a JR pass pays off.

Enjoy the trip!
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

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