If you don’t want to rely on public transport, or do day trips to places like the Snow Monkey’s and Matsumoto Castle, then a Rental Car may be for you

We recommend picking up a car at the airport or Nagano Station, as there is more variety and you save on transfer costs.


You must have an International Driver’s Permit to rent a car in Japan. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Your International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is issued in your home country or country of residence prior to your arrival in Japan. The IDP is valid for 1 year from date of issue. It is generally issued on the spot, and is not very expensive.

If you do not have an IDP you will be refused rental at the vehicle pick up location, even if you have a reservation. No refund is possible if you are refused service because you do not have an IDP!

Pick Up Procedures

  1. Presentation of Documents
    You will need to present your passport, International Drivers Permit, and home country driver’s license at the Rental Car Outlet
  2. Explanation of Terms and Conditions, and Insurance
  3. Vehicle Inspection


Driving in Snow Country will probably be a lot different from your home town. Driving on the icy roads can be dangerous and caution is required.

When you book a rental car for the snowy regions of Nagano, as a minimum you need to get a car with the following specifications.

  • 4WD / AWD vehicles are a must
  • Snow tires (called stud-less tires in Japan)

Chains may be carried as an extra precaution, but are generally not required if you have Snow Tires on your vehicle.

On snowy days, expressways may have a Snow Tire requirement, and all vehicles will be checked for snow tires. If the car does not have snow tires then it will not be allowed to travel on the expressway.

Driving in Japan

There are a few basic rules for driving in Japan

Drive on the Left

Almost all vehicles in Japan are Right Hand drive, and cars drive on the the left hand side of the road.

Seat Belts

All occupants of the vehicle are required to wear a seat-belt when driving on expressways.


Drivers must not use Cellphones / Smartphones while driving. They must pull off the side of the road before using.

Speed Limit

Expressway speed limits are generally 80-100km/h, but can change due to weather and road conditions. Speed limits on regular roads are 30-50km/h

Car Parking

Strict rules apply to parking cars. If you park in a non parking zone, or on private property you risk being fined and having your car towed away.

GPS Navigation

Almost all cars in Japan now come with GPS navigation systems. These are highly accurate and take into account traffic conditions when deciding your route.

Make sure you request a multilingual GPS navigation system and get instructions on usage before departing from the rental outlet.

Destinations can often be searched by name, address or phone number.

Alternatively, Google maps works well in Japan, but it can often make Eros with the Japanese pronunciation of place name.