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Highway tolls 2020/12/22 09:52
Hello guys,
Very happy to found this forum!

I am planning to travel in Japan after this Covid-19 will vanish away. And I would like to rent a car for 7 days so I can easily visit rural parts of the country and not just big cities.

For eg., to go from Tokyo to Kyoto on a highway it costs me 11.500 yen ($111)??? I get this prices from https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2354.html
Is that correct or am I missing something? If it is like that means to much money for rent a car and drive it through Japan....

Thanks
by tGabriel  

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/22 11:27
That sounds right to me. Are you sure you're aware where Tokyo and Kyoto is? And are you sure about your definition of "rural"? Perhaps you should just travel from/to Tokyo and Kyoto on the very convenient Shinkansen and rent a car as close to the rural areas as you can get to, which would allow you to avoid the traffic jam, costly parking and confusion on different traffic rules. On a related note, I wonder if you're used to driving on the left-hand side of the road in a city with no sidewalks and no street names.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/22 12:27
Dont use cars to travel between major cities when the trains and planes offer the same service but at much quicker times.

Just hire a car for a few days at different locations, and use public transport to travel between these locations.
by h (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/23 00:09
Japan is a train country. Take the Shinkansen and express trains between major cities, then use local trains and busses to travel out to the countryside. There are definitely some places which are difficult to reach without a car but I have visited some of the most rural parts of mainland Japan and I don't even have a driving license. Renting a car is more trouble than it is worth for most people. Just take the train.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/23 06:10
This is a tool to look up expressway tolls:
https://www.driveplaza.com/dp/SearchTop

It is in Japanese, because I am not aware of an English one. If you click the green buttons, a map will pop up to select departure and arrival points. The results show rates with and without ETC card. The more expensive one is the one without ETC.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/23 06:55
For tolls, yes, that would be about right, then you have the one-way drop-off fee, fuel, and the cost of the rental and parking. Plus a car is pretty much useless in both Tokyo and Kyoto. For seven days, remembering that speed limits are low, and travelling by car is slow, you7ll lose one of your seven days just driving. (How are you driving on the left hand side of the road?)
Also, travelling by express-way between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka covers some of the most densely and built up portions of Japan - hardly rural.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/23 12:59
Just to be fair to the OP who seems to be new to Japan, while I do agree with LIZ, I can also say that it is indeed worth renting a car in rural areas. The point is to make sure it's rural.

What I am saying is that where public transportation is convenient, driving is inconvenient, stressful and unwanted. (Japan is trying to cut down traffic and CO2.) It doesn't help that the average parking fee is 1000 yen, only if you could find an empty spot.

But where public transportation is scarce, with no railways and only buses running once an hour or less, driving can be convenient, fun and parking would be very easy and free of charge. If you're lucky, you could get information about hidden gems only accessible by car. "Michi-no-eki" farmer's markets that are available only on rural non-highway roads are also great to visit.

If you want to experience the car Express Way (what the OP refers to as "highway"), go for a drive from your rural spot and come back to that rural spot again. There are interesting "Parking Area" throughout Japan.

We often used to drive starting from our city and then across Tokyo to get to the rural resort house we have, and to do that we needed to depart before dark to avoid traffic. It was worth the toll fee and gas only if we had three or more people in one car.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/25 07:37
As Uco says, renting a car can be an ideal choice to see some of Japan's most beautiful places. Many times it is the only choice. It makes no sense going between Tokyo and Kyoto, but around 70% of Japan is mountainous and many great places are not conveniently served by trains and buses, not to mention a lot of hidden gems aren't served at all. Renting locally is the way to go in most cases, though for Hokkaido or the Tohoku Region for example a multi-day rental can be practical to see a lot of great places efficiently.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/26 03:20
I'm also going to agree with @Uco and @Ken. I rented a car for my first time in June 2019 and have also used a rental car that a friend rented and drove in '09. So for example, you can use public transit to get to say Osore-zan in Aomori-ken, but you need to time perfectly and if say you miss the bus from Osore-zan back to Shimokita, you can end up with a 3 hour wait for the next one, which happened to me. I also don't recommend trying to get to Christ's Grave in Aomori-ken by bus, we took a rental car. I went to to Michinoku Hydrangea Forest as well by car. The buses are not that frequent and it is much easier going by car and being able to leave when you like. I also found taking a car to Licca Castle just fabulous. The train is once an hour from Koriyama... except when it's not. And that time when it is not, tends to be when I want to leave. So my stay is either too long, or way too short. It definitely cost more than the train. (which was free with my pass or would have been negligible without it.) but I was paying for the convenience.

My general rule of thumb is, if parking is free and/or super plentiful somewhere, it is likely that taking a rental car is not such a bad idea. Assuming they start back up post Covid, there use to be quite a few driving passes that really cut down on the cost of expressway driving. There was one for most of Japan (but did not include Tokyo or Kyoto as starting or ending points from what I remember.) as well as a lot of regional ones (Kyushu, Tohoku, Hokkaido..)

If you are fluent in English, it's not hard to rent a car with GPS in English, so the streets not having a name is not such a big deal. I just put in the phone number of my destination and the car tells me in English where to go. There is an amazing amount of road signage in English. I also like the low speed limits. It makes me feel a lot safer and I don't need to worry someone else is going to get upset that I am driving slow because I am following GPS and want to make sure I don't get lost. I only drive fast on the expressway, and it is very hard to miss your exit on it. In general, since I tended to rent in cities (Koriyama and Ichinoseki) the most fraught part of the trips were getting to a gas station and getting gas and getting to the car return place! Again, I was glad the speed limit was so low! I found it much easier than I anticipated to drive on the opposite side of the road and never messed that up. Japanese drivers in my experience, tended to be nice and would always let you in.

But renting a car is not about saving money. It's about either convenience and/or getting to places with infrequent or no train service. If you are looking for budgetary travel you want to take a highway bus and let someone else do the driving.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Highway tolls 2020/12/26 07:33
While there are some gems and off the beaten path places that are better/easier by car, there are thousands of places also served by trans/buses/short-taxi rides. In the last 10 years I have rented a car maybe two/three times and one of those was to shift stuff across Tokyo.
As a first time visitor I do not think the OP will be seeking some of the more obscure spots, and sounds like locations between Tokyo and Kyoto (possibly into the mountains) might be as far as they will venture. Even these "rural" parts are often well served by public transport as it an area containing the majority of Japan's population.
Also, away from the main cities, English dries up pretty quickly and adds a challenge for tourists - maybe they are looking for that.
In any case, when the country opens up again, I am sure they will find more than enough to experience.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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