Is it acceptable to show up unannounced to a car rental shop and rent a car for ~5 days? Is it better to reserve in advance via a website?

I speak decent japanese and should be able to explain the situation and understand details.

General answers are prefered so the question can be of use to more people, but my particular situation is such:

  • Short delay (next day)
  • Greater Tokyo area
  • Rent when? In which part of the country?
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 11:43
  • Rent tomorrow, Tokyo area
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 11:44
  • define 'acceptable'. Is the question about having a car available or other cultural issues ?
    – audionuma
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 12:00
  • Both, of course car availability is paramount but Id like to avoid causing trouble for the employees.
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


Not unless you are trying to rent one during a busy holiday

Generally as long as the company has cars to rent, you can rent them without a reservation. Stock usually runs low during holidays, long weekends and local festival days and as such this is a time where you should reserve a car.

Renting in the greater Tokyo area is usually painless but does require you have either a Japanese Drivers licence for the type of car you intend to drive (ie. Automatic licence for Automatic, Manual licence for Manual) or an International Drivers Licence. Some companies also expect you to get a more comprehensive insurance policy if you are on an IDL.

Also, reserving a car guarantees you get whatever car you have chosen (rather than just whatever is available on the day), as well as being able to chose certain plans and get online discounts with some companies.

Both myself foreigner on a Japanese Licence, a foreign friend on an IDL and a Japanese friend have rented on the spot before and this is unlikely to change in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics.

  • This is what we ended up doing.
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 1:26
  • It has been a while, did they need anything else from you? I will update my answer if anything has changed. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 2:32
  • Nope that was all...
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 10:52

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