User Guide | Rakuten Travel

Basic information on renting cars

  • Vehicle classes

    Rates differ according to the class of car. When selecting a car, consider the number of people in your group, the amount of luggage you have, and your destination.
    If you’re traveling with two people and only have a little luggage, a compact car will do.
    For a family or a group of three or four people, a sedan or minivan would be the best choice.
    If you have five or more people, a station wagon would be more suitable.
    Hybrid cars and SUVs that can handle snow and other off-road conditions are also worth considering, depending on where you’re traveling.
    Most rental cars in Japan are automatic transmission vehicles.
    Although some car rental companies offer manual transmission cars, they are limited in number and type, so unless otherwise specified, rental cars will have an automatic transmission.



    iconMini Van8 people

  • Returning vehicles

    While rental cars are typically returned to their original location, returning to a different location may also be possible, which will be explained later in this guide. In addition, cars are generally expected to be returned with a full tank of gas.
  • Shoshinsha mark (beginner driver’s badge)

    Generally, novice drivers who have had their driver’s license for less than one year can also rent a car.
    In cases where a novice driver is behind the wheel, a shoshinsha mark, or beginner driver’s badge, must be rented and displayed on the vehicle (additional fees may apply).


    Shoshinsha marks may be in low supply, so it is best to check when making a reservation.
    Also, some car rental companies may not rent cars to novice drivers, so be sure to check with them before making a reservation.

  • ETC

    The Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system is a payment system used at toll booths on expressways and toll roads to process automatic payments. Thanks to the ETC system, drivers do not have to stop at toll gates to pick up toll tickets or pay tolls.
    • Before using the ETC gates
    You will need an on-board ETC device and an ETC card to be inserted into the device.
    Most rental cars are equipped with an on-board ETC device.
    If you do not have an ETC card, you can rent one (about 300 JPY plus tax).
    Note that the ETC card must be returned to the location where you rented the car, in which case one-way drop-offs are not accepted.

    How to use the ETC system
    ① Insert the ETC card into the on-board ETC device
    ② When entering and exiting expressways and toll roads, drive slowly through the ETC lane.
    ③ Continue to use the ETC lanes at subsequent toll gates.
  • GPS

    A GPS (car navigation system) is a device installed in a vehicle that determines its current location and provides directions to a desired destination.
    Simply enter the address or phone number of your destination on the touchscreen, and the system will provide directions to get there.
    This is very useful when driving in an unfamiliar area or to a place you have never been before.

    Most rental cars now come with a GPS.
    However, some systems may not have English language settings, so be sure to check in advance if you want to use the car's GPS.
    Also, be sure to reach out to the staff for guidance on how to use the system.

  • Returning to a different location

    Returning to a different location means returning a rental car to a location other than where you rented it.
    Returning to a different location offers greater flexibility, allowing for more efficient visits to sightseeing destinations.
    Many car rental companies offer this service as an option, but be sure to check with the company as it may not be available in some areas or may require additional fees.

    Examples of returning to a different location
    ① Picking up a rental car at one airport and returning it at another airport in a different prefecture.
    ② Picking up a rental car at an airport and returning it at a train station.
    ③ Picking up a rental car at a train station and returning it at an airport.
    ④ Picking up a rental car at a train station and returning it near a sightseeing destination.
  • Baby seats, child seats, and booster seats

    It is mandatory to use a child seat for children under 6 years of age riding in the car for their safety.
    There are three main types of child seats depending on the intended ages, each with different usage instructions.
    Make sure to choose the right seat for your child.

    ・Baby seat (for infants)
    From newborns to about 1 year old (weight 0-13 kg).
    Mount it facing backward with respect to the vehicle.

    ・Child seat (for toddlers)
    From about 9 months to 4 years old (weight 9-18 kg).
    Mount it facing forward with respect to the vehicle.
    Generally equipped with a five-point harness and can be secured.

    ・Booster seat (for school-aged children)
    From about 3 years to 7 years old (weight 16-36 kg).
    Directly uses the car’s seat belt.

  • Studless winter tires

    Driving on snowy roads can be hazardous due to the risk of slipping and spinning.
    Therefore, it is crucial to have studless winter tires when renting a car in winter in snowy regions.
    Depending on the time of year and area, they may not be equipped as standard practice, or they may be optional.

    Main precautions when driving on snowy roads
    ・Always remove snow from the soles of your shoes before driving.
    ・Never make sudden starts, stops, or changes of direction.
    ・Maintain at least three times the normal distance from the car in front of you.
    ・Avoid parking near roadside ditches as much as possible.
    ・When parking, do not solely use the handbrake: for automatic transmission vehicles, put the shift lever in park; for manual transmission vehicles, put it in first gear (or reverse).
    ・Lift the windshield wipers when parking outdoors for a long time to keep them from freezing to the windshield.
    ・Fuel consumption increases when driving on snowy roads, so refuel as often as possible.

  • Cancellations

    If you need to cancel your reservation, you can do so through yourPersonal Account Page.

    Cancellation fees
    The fees vary by car rental company and also depend on the number of days remaining before the scheduled rental date.
    Therefore, please review the cancellation policy and contact the car rental company of your reservation directly for more information.

  • Payment methods

    Car rental payments are generally made on site (at the rental location) and are typically processed via credit card.
    While cash payments might be an option, this could require presenting personal identification documents.
    Additionally, some car rental companies allow for prepayment, so please check the payment rules of each car rental company when making a reservation.
  • Japanese road signs, signals, and driving rules

    Here are some basic rules for driving in Japan.
    To prevent accidents, please follow these rules and prioritize safety while driving.

    ・Left-hand driving
    In Japan, always drive on the left side of the road.

    ・Stop signs
    In addition to pedestrian crossings, you must stop at intersections without traffic lights, just before crossing sidewalks, and before railway crossings.

    ・Seat belts for all passengers
    It is a legal requirement for all drivers and passengers, including those in the back seat, to wear seat belts.

    ・No smartphone or mobile phone use while driving
    Use smartphones and mobile phones only after parking your vehicle in a safe place away from the road.

    ・Speed limits
    On general roads, the speed limit is usually between 30 km/h and 60 km/h, while on expressways, it’s typically 80 km/h to 100 km/h.

    ・Child seats
    It is the law to have child seats for children under 6 years of age.

    ・Vehicle height and width
    Be mindful that the rental car you select might have different dimensions in terms of height and width compared to your regular vehicle.

    Japanese road signs, signals



    Maximum SpeedMaximum Speed

    Minimum SpeedMinimum Speed

    no_parkNo Parking

    so_stopNo Stopping or Parking

    no_goRoad Closed

    no_carRoad Closed to Vehicles

    no_turnNo Vehicle Crossing

    no_inNo Vehicle Entry


    rockRisk of Falling Rocks

    unevenUneven Road Surface

    onworkRoad Work Ahead

    animalRisk of Animals Jumping Out

    windCrosswinds Warning

    twoTwo-way Traffic

    dangerOther Dangers

    only_wayNo Entry Besides Designated Direction

    one_wayOne-way Traffic

    all_wayTraffic Direction Separated by Lane

    this_wayPriority Road

    safeSafety Zone

    soundSound the Horn