Many people automatically associate Japan with its bullet trains and amazing public transport. Japan has amazing public transport which makes it easy to travel around the country. However, many places are only accessible by car. If you like camping or exploring small towns, driving is vital to getting around the more rural prefectures like Amori. There are many amazing road trips with scenic bridges and coastlines. Here are 4 road trips in Japan you should take when you visit Japan.
Road Trips in Japan
Furano in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the northernmost large island of Japan. Due to its location, it is not as heavily visited by tourists as opposed to other areas of Japan. Hokkaido however offers some of the more stunning road trips in Japan.
In the town of Furano there is a 2.5 km stretch of road called “Roller Coaster Road”. Named after its very hilly nature. This is just one of the many places accessible by car. Others include “Patchwork Road” near Biei which is a popular spot for commercials. The scenery attracts many tourists each year and offers stunning photography spots.
Bandai-Azuma Skyline in Fukushima
Fukushima has been in a negative light ever since the 2011 tsunami. However, the prefecture of Fukushima is stunningly beautiful and is a great place for driving. One such place is the “Bandai-Azuma Skyline” which is located on the border of Fukushima and Yamagata prefectures. It offers stunning autumn colors and winding mountain roads.
In the winter, this area is famous for having huge amounts of snowfall which creates towering snow corridors along the road.
Venus Line in Nagano
Another amazing driving location is the “Venus Line” in Nagano prefecture. It offers a scenic drive through the mountains. It offers amazing views and is 70 km long. Nagano Prefecture is in the middle of Japan and home to the famous Matsumoto Castle. The castle is one of the most famous one in Japan and is a must-see for any road trip break. The town of Matsumoto is also a nice place to visit if you love hiking.
Tsunoshima Bridge in Yamaguchi
In the small remote island prefecture of Yamaguchi, there is the famous Tsunoshima Bridge. It connects the small island with the rest of Japan. The island offers white sandy beaches and blue waters. The perfect spot for a road trip since no train runs to the island.
How to rent a car for your road trip
Now that you have seen a little of what Japan has to offer it is time to rent a car.
Renting a car in Japan is straightforward and safe. You must be 18 or older and have an international driver’s permit. These have to be obtained in your home country and are recognized for a year in Japan.
Some countries, like Germany, France and Taiwan, allow official translations of driver licenses to be used instead. These can be obtained from a Japanese Embassy or the Japan Automobile Federation. Other countries like the US, must have an actual Japanese driver’s license to rent a car.
Japan has many major rental car services including, Nippon Rentacar, Toyota Rentacar, and Times Car Rental. Most of these companies have English reservations available either online or by phone. Rates for renting a mid size car is about 10,000 yen or about $100 a day. Usually included in the price is insurance and unlimited mileage. Most rentals come with a built in GPS system which makes navigation easy. Most signs on the road are in English and Japanese. The roads are all in excellent condition and drivers in Japan follow the traffic laws and drive safely. The streets are easy to navigate and marked with crosswalks and bike lanes. If you are renting a car, most rental cars come with a GPS and Google maps is always available.
Overall, Japan offers many more places to explore than just around the major cities. Winding mountain roads and scenic views, the places to drive in Japan are endless. We recommend that you rent a car and explore a different side of Japan.If you are in Japan for a week and decide to forgo the normal tourist hotspots. Check out these areas of Japan by car. You won’t be disappointed.