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Driving Narita to Nagano 2007/12/28 10:30
Narita
In Feb I wish to drive from Narita Airport to Nagano.
Looking at a map it seems that the easiest way is to head north west from the airport to Noda and then on to the expresway system. Would this be so. I will have a rental with GPS. I am trying to avoid Tokyo as much as possible. Thanks.
by Bruce Roddick  

... 2007/12/28 17:27
The fastest way is all by expressway via central Tokyo, using the Higashi Kanto Expressway, Kanetsu Expressway and Joshinetsu Expressway. But cruising the expressway network of central Tokyo is confusing and can be very stressful. Why don't you take trains via Tokyo and pick up a rental car in Nagano? It is faster and more comfortable. If luggage is a problem, you may consider a delivery service:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html
by Uji rate this post as useful

Driving Narita to Nagano 2007/12/28 20:25
Thanks Uji for your reply.
With Luggage, trains etc 4 people it would seem logical
to hire a vehicle. I was not
looking for the fastest way but the easiest. An hour or two here or there does not matter - we have nearly a whole day.

by Bruce rate this post as useful

yes, it is logical 2007/12/28 21:14
car hire should be logical for a gruop of 4 people. but then you have to pass through tokyo metropolitan expressway, which is hard to drive even for japanese.

realistic alternatives may be NRT - National Route 296 - National Route 16 - Kan'etsu Expressway near Kawagoe - Nagano
or
can you fly into Chubu central Japan airport?
by Jtraveller rate this post as useful

I was wrong 2007/12/28 21:18
realistic alternatives may be NRT - National Route 51 - National Route 16 - Kan'etsu Expressway near Kawagoe - Nagano
or
can you fly into Chubu central Japan airport?
by Jtraveller rate this post as useful

How about.......... 2007/12/29 06:02
My only concern is Tokyo.
From Narita it looks on my map that the easiest way would be North West following the rail line to Inzai-Shi, then Kashiwa then to Joban Expressway to Kan- Etsu and I am then on my way.
Thanks for your help - we have skied in Japnan several times but this will be the first attempt at driving.
by Bruce rate this post as useful

... 2007/12/29 16:29
From Narita it looks on my map that the easiest way would be North West following the rail line to Inzai-Shi, then Kashiwa then to Joban Expressway to Kan- Etsu and I am then on my way.

Not taking the expressways through Tokyo will increase travel time considerably. especially during afternoon/evening rush hours, when I suspect that travel time would double. As a result, I think it will be more tiring and stressful to circle via national routes around Tokyo than to try to navigate the expressways of central Tokyo (especially if you have car navigation). I would not call it easier.

With Luggage, trains etc 4 people it would seem logical
to hire a vehicle.


Not if you are looking for the easiest way. If you are looking for the easiest way, I recommend trains. Possibly in combination with a delivery service.
by Uji rate this post as useful

long flight plus driving dangers 2007/12/29 16:47
Also bear in mind that it is considered dangerous to get off a long flight and drive a long distance straight away in a country where you are unfamiliar with the road system- in my country there are often serious accidents when people arriving from overseas get straight into a rental car at the airport and start driving to another city.

If your flight is more than 8 hours consider staying in Narita one night or taking the train. Jet lag has been found to significantly impair co-ordination and judgement when driving as well as causing sleepiness.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Thank You 2007/12/30 07:40
Thank you Uji & Sira for your concern.
Jet Lag is of small concern as we travel in the same time zone, overnight, and fortunately in a cabin with beds.
We will be travelling through or around Tokyo on a Sunday Morning so hopefully traffic will be lighter than rush hour.
We have tried trains - very difficult when you have luggage. We have tried luggae service also difficult when you dont speak Japanese and hard to coordinate.
We have hired a vehicle with GPS.
We have 4 drivers avaliable.
We have all had experience in driving in major cities - e.g. Rome, New York and recentley Beijing & Shanghai.
We have plenty of time - we will not be in a hurry.
Taking all into consideration driving would seem to be the best option.
I appreciate your concern.
by Bruce rate this post as useful

driving 2007/12/30 17:12
You mention that "We have all had experience in driving in major cities - e.g. Rome, New York and recently Beijing & Shanghai" but are you familiar with driving, as they do in Japan, on the LEFT SIDE of the road?
by Sensei 2 rate this post as useful

Bruce, you're right 2007/12/30 17:20
I'm from Hong Kong and have been driving from Narita to ski in Yuzawa 3 times now. It was daunting the first time we drove as everyone said how confusing the expressways were in Tokyo (you've got to go thru Tokyo) etc etc but it turned out really easy. THE most important thing to remember, esp if you don't speak Japanese (unless you're really lucky nearly all GPS is in Japanese) is to know the telephone numbers of the places you'll be visiting + your hotels of-course. Inputting the telephone number will be your easiest way to use the Japanese GPS and the system is excellent. You don't need to know any Japanese as the interactive screen will give you plenty of warning before every exit even on the Tokyo expressways. Just make sure you and a partner understand FULLY how to input the telephone numbers when you take delivery of your vehicle and you'll be fine.
The first time, we studied the maps in advance just in case but really none of it was necessary as the Japanese GPS system is really good (compared with the UK, France, New York and Australia).
With 4 of you, it's cheaper by far to drive but your main advantage if like us you are going skiing is not so much the cost saving as the convenience and freedom. With a car, we could visit different ski resorts and if go the Yuzawa, you have nearly 20 resorts within 20 minutes drive. Apres ski, you could also drive to different restaurants and onsens instead of being stuck in one hotel.
Final tips : definitely get a ski rack, make sure your car or SUV has enough luggage space for the 4 of you and get ready a container for coins and change as you'll be going through at least 6 toll booths, maybe more. Do NOT use the AUTO toll lane at the toll booths (I think they're purple), as a tourist you MUST use the cash lane (think they're green), otherwise you could have a lot of trouble.
Good luck and have a great time.
by mthk rate this post as useful

Through Tokyo 2007/12/30 17:40
I agree that going through Tokyo is best. I have done that so many times now it is never a problem, in fact my wife who is Japanese will have me drive throught the tokyo area and then she will switch back to driving after that if I feel tired. Traveling off the highway is great for short trips but in your case you need to go through there. Definitely get those phone numbers in advance - that will make it so much easier. Also knowing a little simple Japanese words and phrases will help. You need to write them down and have them ready to use just in case. Also it helps to understand what the GPS (Navi) is saying to you.

Gambatte kudasai!

by Chris rate this post as useful

Thanks 2007/12/30 23:31
Thanks for your replies.
Sensi - Yes I am an Australian and we drive on the Left as does Japan.
MTHK - I am pleased someone agrees with me. The freedom is the most important. Chris the carrental people have advised if I supply phone nos
they will program the GPS.
Our GPS in Aus. do not use numbers at this stage.
I hope that we can get enough instruction from the
Car Co. to at least perform the basic functions.
I'm happy that I can bnow forget studying the maps.
If we get lost -so what - its all part of the experience. Thanks agian for all the input.
by Bruce rate this post as useful

ETC 2007/12/31 00:53
Bruce,

Just to clarify the comment above about auto toll booths, these are marked with (purple) "ETC" signs. Many rental cars are now fitted with ETC equipment, in which case you can use the ETC booths. The car rental company will of course tell you this. If not, then you will have to use the regular (green) lanes and pay the attendant.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

... 2007/12/31 17:18
rental cars are now fitted with ETC equipment, in which case you can use the ETC booths.

You also need an ETC card, which requires residency in Japan. I don't think that the rental car companies provide drivers with ETC cards, do they?
by Uji rate this post as useful

ETC 2007/12/31 20:07
Uji wrote:

You also need an ETC card, which requires residency in Japan. I don't think that the rental car companies provide drivers with ETC cards, do they?

Oops, you're probably right. Sorry for the misinformation.

by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

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