We have recently came back from our trip in Kyushu Japan! Since we travelled all around the beautiful island, this time we decided to rent a car and had a self driving tour! We rented with Tabirai and were impressed by their service! In this blog we will review Tabirai and provide a step-by-step guide to Japan car rental!
Why Rent with Tabirai?
While there are numerous sites offering car rental in Japan, Tabirai has the following three main features which aren’t offered by the other:
- Guarantee Installation of English car navigation system
- Tabirai only posts cars from major rental companies welcoming users from overseas at reasonable prices compared to regular prices (maximum 50% off from fixed prices)
- In addition to rental car charges, basic insurance, collision damage waiver (CDW), English car navigation (GPS), consumption tax are also included in a price that is easy to understand and secure. Insurance from individual car rental companies (NOC compensation insurance) is optional and can be added on the date of car rental as needed.
Booking a Rental Car with Tabirai
There are numerous car rental company in Japan, and comparing across all of them can be annoying and wasting time. Luckily, Tabirai works will all six major car rental companies in Japan, including Orix, Nissan, Times, Toyota, Nippon, and Budget. No need to go to six different sites and you can pick the company with the best price and closest to your hotel!
Furthermore, Tabarai offers the following three advantage with their websites:
- Once the reservation is completed online, the specified rental is guaranteed. After that, simply go to the rental car company office on the pick and date and you are good to go!
- Member registration and credit card information are unnecessary at the time of reservation. This is especially important as some Japanese website will only accept Japan issued credit cards. Payment should be made at the car rental office on the departure date.
- You can cancel your reservation and send a message to the rental car company by logging in Tabirai’s website and using the Reservation Information Box
Picking Up Rental Car
On the day of the car rental, we arrived at Budget Tenjin Watanabedori bright and early. The staff greeted us warmly. We showed them the confirmation email from Tabirai and go through all the paperwork. Since we are coming from Canada, we have to get an International Driving Permit from the local CAA prior to departing for Japan.
Prior to getting the rental car, we also need to watch a short safety video. It was neat that the video player was in a thin folder!
After all the paperwork and video, we are ready to get into the car! We performed a visual check with the staff to make sure there are no scratches. The staff then will show you the basic operations like keys, push button start, shift, pedals, break, and GPS.
The car we got was a Honda Fit hybrid. Despite it being a small car (for North American standard), the car’s back trunk can fit two large suitcase and two carry-on luggage with ease! Since we only have two people we also used the back row for bags and other items.
Overall the picking up car process takes around 15 minutes. With paperwork all done and luggage all loaded up, we are finally ready to drive and explore around Kyushu!
Driving around Kyushu
Driving in Japan is fun and easy. The roads are orderly and signs easy to follow despite in Japanese. Coming from Canada, we have to adjust and get used to the wheel on the right side. It wasn’t as bad as we thought, we just always mix up between the two levers behind the wheel, turning on the wipers when we are meant to singal!
The in-car GPS was easy to use and the direction were very clear. All Tabirai cars come with English navigation system, but we decided to change back to Japanese since we know Kanji and it was easier to match the places name.
There are couple ways to input the destination, including MAPCODE, phone number, or the full address. We found using phone number is the easiest as the phone numbers are included in Google Maps!
Driving a certainly a very different travelling experience than relying on public transit. No more being cramped on a crowded subway train or carrying all the shopped goods throughout the day. With a car you can always just dump stuff onto the car and have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. We are able to visit places we otherwise would not go without a car, such as Karatsu (Yuri on Ice, photo above), supermarkets, and gourmet restaurants that are outside of city centres!
Our road trip was coming to an end and we are ready to return the car. Prior to return the rental car, the car must be filled up to full tank of gas. Since the car is a hybrid, it was very fuel efficient. After over 600 kims driven all over Kyushu from Fukuoka to Karatsu, Tosu, Kurume, Kumamoto, Mount Aso, Yufuin, Beppu, and back to Fukuoka, only half a tank of gas was used!
Budget provided a map with the gas station closest to the car rental office (with Mapcode too!). We used a self serve station, and filling up gas in Japan in mainly the same as with other countries. One cool thing is that you can pay cash at the pump and no need to run inside to find the attendant! Another thing to note is that the car rental office would require the receipt of the filling when returning the car, so make sure to keep it!
We filled up the car and drove back to Budget. Returning was a breeze, just parked the car, unload the luggages, sign the form, and you are good to go.
For those using ETC (Electronic Toll Card), the agency will print out details of toll charges and you can pay when returning the car. Since we purchased the Kyushu Expressway Pass (KEP), the staff will go through the list, cross out tolls that are covered by the KEP, and you can just pay for the uncovered tolls (e.g. toll routes within Fukuoka).
Overall we enjoyed our car rental experience with Tabirai and our driving experience in Kyushu! Tabirai’s website was easy to use and navigate, and having a car makes the trip much easier and enjoyable. We will definitely use Tabirai again next time when we are looking for a rental car in Japan, perhaps in Okinawa or Hokkaido!
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