Mel had a conversation with a colleague one day. The topic was travel (of course) and invariably it veered into how we (ie Mel and Suan) explore the destinations that we journey to. For the most part, we do not drive in cities or in countries where self drive can be tricky due to the traffic etc or hard to rent (that’s only a few countries) – but…
For the rest, it’s fair game. Give Mel a rental and we will brave the open roads.
So it was a curious thing to hear : “my husband has a phobia of driving overseas” or “he feels it’s not safe to drive outside of Singapore”. As if it was ever that safe driving on the roads of the little red dot especially with recent incidents of folks driving in the wrong direction…consolation – well perhaps it’s kind of ‘safer’?
Getting a rental in Japan
In this day and age it is a surprise that many still do not consider this to be an option high on the list of choices – mode of transport that is in Japan outside the large cities. We are not advocating driving per se and are not paid by auto companies, but if one were to travel…
First up, it’s surprisingly affordable. At our favorite N*ssan, you can rent a compact for about ¥7,000 per day. This translates to a 1.4 litre N*ssan N*te. Enough horsepower to bring you to the mountains. And it comes with the GPS built into the car, so you don’t pay extra. There are other sites such as Toc*o.com, but they carry additional charges and have a hold on your credit card unlike our favorite (no bias here).
Our first rental was in a city called Shirahama (read story here). It is true that for folks driving on the other side of the road it can be intimidating at first. Especially when most of the roadside signage (commercials etc) are not in English. But then you only need to focus on the road – other cars and pedestrians + the traffic lights. Within an hour of driving on the roads in Japan, you’d soon come to know its NO DIFFERENT from anywhere else.
Plan your trip
There are now many sites on the web that offer advise to craft your own itinerary. It is plain obvious we are biased towards using Google maps. You will see references to embedded maps all over our pages and posts. This is just an example:
For example (above), Suan had mapped out her journeys and saved them, “printing” them into the cloud and referring to them along the way as we drove. Of course it helped that the cars in Japan usually come with in-built GPS devices which meant you can programme in the waypoints ahead of time. And if you are not sure how to do it, just ask the rental agency folks. They will be more than happy to help you find your way and return the car unscathed.
Don’t believe us that it’s fun? Read Traipsy Pixie’s road trip to Shirakawa, one of our to do destinations in Japan. They do the drive too!
Once you have the car and a plan, you’re on the way. Enjoy the fun and the freedom that comes with driving your own. It might be soon when driverless cars become mainstream and ‘take away’ the fun of driving!
We enjoy exploring Japan this way. Will you?