100yen-Rent-a-Car: The Cheapest Ride in Tokyo*

Mine Serizawa
Isn’t owning a car in Japan just so convenient?
Photo by Stéfan used under a Creative Commons License

There are circumstances that make using a car unavoidable, even in Japan, e.g. if you were designated driver of a float in last weekend’s pride parade or if trains give you an allergic reaction. No, no, no, sorry, I promise to take this seriously. After all, even my car-eschewing mother has been known to accept rides to the airport, or carpool rides to Costco to replenish her coffee empire. Because say you have a large family and a lot of groceries to do, or just a very high luggage-to-time spent abroad ratio, or a commute that won’t be reduced to fewer than five separate transfers no matter how assiduously you mess around on Jorudan.com trying to find alternative routes–it’s hard to deny that a car can on occasion be damned useful.

Also, of course, the sound of “100yen-rent-a-car” would pique anybody’s interest, especially anyone who knows anything about the cost of buying and maintaining and parking a car in Japan.

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REThink Tokyo
Oh yes, please.
Photo from the 100yen-Rent-a-Car website

About that: I thought I knew, but I didn’t know.

On top of the price of a new car, buyers should expect the cost of the “shaken“, a mandatory car inspection that is valid for three years after buying and then must be renewed every two years–for 70,000 to 120,000yen and up each time. More, of course, if your car is found to need any work.

Then there’s the mandatory liability insurance (20,000 to 30,000yen for twenty-four months), vehicle weight tax (anywhere between 7,000 and 50,000yen per year), and the price of gas, parking, highway tolls, and maintenance. At which point you’ve become leery of doing the additions and hurriedly conclude that it must come to A Lot. The amount of paperwork involved will also require a hiking rucksack and probably the services of a dealer.

AccessJ.com recommends using the services of cheaper shops such as Clear 25 or Holiday, which could bring down the cost of the shaken to 54,000yen–or even to attempt the check yourself for an overall cost of around 35,000yen. Guides to performing the self-check are cultivated free-range on the ‘net–here is a particularly detailed one.

Tip: Used cars will obviously have lower initial costs, but look out for the amount of shaken remaining–they should come with full shaken, and apparently less than a year remaining renders them virtually un-sellable.

So if you’d rather dispose of your income down other channels, but need a car for a shopping trip or day trip or for use as a modest party bus, how does the “100yen” bell-ringer really compare to other car rental options? The wordless caveat is, of course, 100yen for 10 minutes. “100yen-per-ten-minutes-rent-a-car” is rather uneconomical, word gymnastics-wise, so we might give the company the benefit of the doubt.

Realistically though, ten minutes will get you out of the parking lot (especially if it’s the high-rise kind, see top of the post)–it might even cover you to the next block. It makes more sense to think in terms of 600yen/hour rates, up to and including 6 hours, i.e. 2,400yen. After that, prices drop off. For 3,000yen you get 12 hours in a “compact class” car, and for 4,200 it’s yours for a full twenty-four hours. “Family class” and “sedan class” cars are slightly more expensive.

Sophisticated table science reveals the following:

Company6-hour rental12-hour rental24-hour rental
Nippon Rent-a-Car5,145yen5,145yen6,510yen
Toyota Rent-a-Car6,300yen7,350yen8,925yen

–Not to mention that most rental companies have a minimum rental duration of 6 hours; ten-minute intervals are entirely out of the question.

Thereby redeeming, just this once, the venerable claims of an advertising gimmick.

*Not like that, you dirtbags.

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5 Responses to “100yen-Rent-a-Car: The Cheapest Ride in Tokyo*”

  1. Nico Nico Rentacar is also a good budget choice. If you become a member (free) it’s 3,360 yen for 24 hours, although they add surcharges during high season.
    No connection but I’ve used them a couple of times without problems.

  2. Nico Nico Rentacar is also a good budget choice. If you become a member (free) it’s 3,360 yen for 24 hours, although they add surcharges during high season.
    No connection but I’ve used them a couple of times without problems.

  3. Thanks for the article. I might actually need to rent a car soon. How many km are included, or is there a fee for each km?

  4. Hello!
    We will arrive to Japan in april and we would like to rent a car for 17 days to travel around (I know everyone suggests public transport but we prefer self driving). We would rent the car in Tokyo so we are looking for cheap rental companies also according to your recomendations. We sent emails to different companies from “100yen-rent-a-car” web page. Since we don’t speak japanese we sent the emails in english but haven’t received any answers. Do you have any suggestions on how to get an offer or maybe you can recomend another rental company that is cheap and maybe deals in english?

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