Renting a car in Okinawa

Driving is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. The same can be said about renting a car from a rental car company since you will be driving a car that belongs to someone else and have to be responsible for any unexpected circumstances that may occur during your rental period. Make sure to read this page before you make decisions about renting a car in Okinawa to get fundamental knowledge about what it is like to rent a car in Japan and what consequences you can expect from it.

Please submit the rental car arrangement request to the Resource Center as soon as you know you need a rental car from the link at the bottom of this page. There is a high chance that a rental car cannot be arranged for your desired rental period with a request on short notice.

 

Contents of the page

What do I need to have to drive in Japan?

Before considering renting a car, you must check if you have valid documents to drive in Japan.

If you have an IDP which is issued based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, you are able to drive in Japan for up to one year counted either from your arrival in Japan or from the issuance date of your IDP. You must be able to present your IDP and passport when driving. After this one year has passed, you need to convert your overseas driver's license to Japanese if you want to continue to drive in Japan.

[IMPORTANT] If your IDP is issued based on other conventions, such as the 1968 Vienna Convention, you cannot drive in Japan with it. If you don't have a valid IDP, we recommend you convert your overseas driver's license to Japanese before you start driving in Japan.

  • About the driver's license conversion process, please refer to this page.

If your driver's license was issued in one of the above countries/regions, you will be able to drive with your overseas driver's license accompanied by a Japanese translation of the license and your passport for up to a year counted from your arrival. After this one year has passed, you need to convert your overseas license to Japanese if you want to continue to drive in Japan after that.

If you don't have any of the above, you need to get a Japanese driver's license to drive in Japan. For details, please refer to the below pages.

 

The price range of a rental car

The price range of a rental car differs from company to company, as well as depending on the car type you are renting. Below is a price comparison table of three companies that deliver the cars to OIST.

You should note that the companies offering rental cars for low prices are normally small local businesses. Therefore, the quality of the cars, their insurance compensation policies, or their services may not be as satisfactory as bigger rental car companies. Company A and B are major rental car companies that have offices across the nation. However, Company C is a local business that offers rental cars for lower prices for the sake of OIST community. The number of such companies is in decrease because of bad reputations that previous OIST customers have left (see examples of issues here). It is important that you thoroughly read and understand the insurance compensation policy and waiver scheme options before renting a car to protect yourself from unexpected expenditure as well as that you leave a good reputation of OIST for the other OIST fellows.

The below prices are for:

  • Light-sized vehicle: A four-passenger car with an engine displacement no bigger than 660cc
  • Compact car: A five-passenger car with an engine displacement of around 1,500cc
  • Sedan: A five-passenger car with an engine displacement of around 1,500cc-2,000cc, that comes with a trunk space that is separated from the passenger area
Company Car type Price per 24hrs Price per month

A

Click here for all available car types

Light-sized vehicle (Class KSS)

4,500JPY 81,000JPY

Compact car (Class S/SA)

4,800JPY 86,400JPY

Sedan 1,500cc (Class A)

5,000JPY 86,400JPY

B

Click here for all available car types

Light-sized vehicle (Class P0) 3,850JPY 45,100JPY
Compact car (Class P1) 4,180JPY 48,400JPY
Sedan (Class P4) 4,620JPY 52,800JPY
*Additional cost of JPY1,100 apply if you want to pick-up and drop-off the vehicle at OIST Campus
C*

Light-sized vehicle
CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

2,000JPY 35,000JPY

*Company C only provides light-sized vehicles.

**Above prices are special rates for OIST employees

Pay extra attention to the insurance compensation policy!

Pay extra attention to the insurance compensation policy and waiver scheme options!

Driving always comes with a great risk that you may get involved in accidents regardless of whether or not you are a good driver. Therefore, before you sign the rental agreement, you must pay extra attention to the insurance compensation policy and the waiver scheme options for whatever possible costs you may have to bear in the event of an accident. Otherwise, you may end up paying a lot more money than the rental fee in the event of an accident.

Returning the car in its original condition is YOUR responsibility

You are responsible for maintaining the rental car during your rental period. It means that you must return the car to the rental car company in its original condition. If the rental car is damaged or dirtied during your rental period, you must bear the cost of repair/cleaning service designated by the rental car company out of your pocket regardless of whether or not it resulted from your negligence.

You must compensate the rental car company with the period they cannot use the car for business in the event of an accident

You should also take into account that you are responsible to compensate the rental car company with the period where they cannot use the rental car if it needs to be kept at a garage for repair or cleaning. This is called 'Non-operation charge(NOC)' and its rate is normally the same among all the rental car companies.

Non-operation charge(NOC)

  • 20,000JPY if the rental car is still drivable
  • 50,000JPY if the rental car is no longer drivable

If you rent a car from Company A or B, there is a waiver scheme option that exempts you from NOC by paying extra money in advance. Please check the respective companies' options in their insurance compensation policies. There is no such option with Company C. Therefore, you must pay NOC no matter what in case of an accident.

Examples of issues with rental cars

  • A rental car was returned to the rental car company with unidentifiable sticky black liquid and it left a stain on the seat. The lessee claimed they were not responsible for this and tried to refuse to pay the cleaning cost.

IT IS THE LESSEE'S RESPONSIBILITY to make sure they return the rental car in its original condition. If there is any damage or stain in any parts of the car, the lessee MUST bear the cost for cleaning or repair work. Cleaning and repair work must be carried out at a service garage the rental car company designates. The lessee cannot designate the garage to be used for this purpose.

  • A rental car was returned to the rental car company with a scratch, which was not there when the car was delivered to the lessee. The lessee claimed it was not their fault and tried to refuse to pay for the repair.

IT IS LESSEE'S RESPONSIBILITY to make sure the rental car is returned to the company in its original condition. If there is any damage or stain in any parts of the car, the lessee MUST bear the cost for cleaning or repair work. Cleaning and repair work must be carried out at a service garage the rental car company designates. The lessee cannot designate the garage to be used for this purpose.

  • A smoke-free rental car was returned to the rental car company with an obvious smell of smoke. The lessee claimed that they didn't know how the smell got there and tried to refuse to pay the cleaning cost to get rid of the smell.

THE LESSEE MUST ENSURE TO KEEP A SMOKE-FREE CAR FREE FROM SMOKE. If the car is returned with a smell of smoke transmitted to the car for some reason (smoking outside the car or letting someone smoke inside the car, etc.), the lessee must bear the cost for getting rid of the smell regardless of whether or not they have smoked inside the car.

  • A pet-free rental car was returned to the rental car company with animal hair all over the place. The lessee claimed that they never had any animals inside the car and tried to refuse to pay the cleaning cost.

THE LESSEE MUST BEAR THE COST FOR CLEANING if they have had animals inside a pet-free rental car. The car may not be used as 'a pet-free car' after they have had animals on board because it is dangerous for the people, who are allergic to certain animals, to be in the car.

  • A lessee didn't show up at the place, where they were supposed to meet the rental car company representative, to return the car and they left the rental car in a parking lot.

THE LESSEE MUST BE PRESENT UPON THE RETURN OF THE RENTAL CAR to check the car condition with the representative from the rental car company.

  • A lessee returned a rental car without filling up the petrol tank.

RENTAL CARS MUST BE RETURNED WITH THEIR PETROL TANK FILLED UP. Make sure to keep the receipt for refueling and present it to the rental car company representative upon return.

  • A lessee had an accident with a rental car, but didn't report the accident to the rental car company.

ACCIDENTS MUST BE REPORTED TO THE POLICE, RENTAL CAR COMPANY, AND THE INSURANCE COMPANY that the car is covered by. Otherwise, the lessee must bear all the costs for the loss that occurred from the accident.

Holiday seasons in Japan

During the holiday seasons, it is extremely difficult to arrange rental cars as Okinawa is one of the popular holiday destinations. Rental cars are normally fully booked way in advance.

  • New Year's holiday: From late December till early January
  • Spring vacation period for school-aged kids: From late March till early April
  • 'Golden Week(a week containing several national holidays)': From late April till early May
  • Summer vacation period for school-aged kids: From late July till early September
  • 'Silver Weel(a week containing several national holidays)': Mid September
  • Autumn vacation period for school-aged kids: A week in early October

Rental car arrangement request

Please contact the Resource Center if you need assistance in making a rental car arrangement by submitting a request form from this link.