Nikoniko means “to smile broadly” in Japanese. However, if you’ve ever rented a car from one of the big rental car companies in Japan, the hole it left in your wallet probably left you crying. While the likes of Toyota Rentacar, Orix and Nippon Rentacar charge 7,020yen, 7,290yen and 8,316yen respectively for 24 hours use of a compact car, Nikoniko charges just 3,800yen for the same class of car.
To prove we eat our own dog food, I recently tried out Nikoniko Rentacar on a trip to Nagano. Rather than navigate my way out of the concrete expanse of Tokyo, I decided to take the train there and then pick up a car. Booking through the site is a relatively simple task – as long as you can read Japanese. Picking up the car required showing my license and filling out a small clip board of forms.
Japanese country roads tend to be remarkably empty of traffic and have puzzlingly low speed limits. Driving the little Nissan from Nikoniko Rentacar, I often found myself on long straight roads with nair a vehicle in sight – with a 40km/h speed limit. Although I admit I may have gone slightly faster than that, the compact car handled the straights and the bends with ease.
With the optional extras (I asked for the car navigation system) the bill for 2 1/2 days use scraped in just over 10,000yen. In hindsight, we probably could have done without the car navigation. Google Maps turn-by-turn directions does almost as well, it’s free and it’s in English. The real surprise just before returning the car was when filling up the tank. Despite zipping around all over the place (well over 100km) the fuel bill came in at just 1,200yen!
Why you should choose Nikoniko Rentacar
- Dirt cheap!
- Tidy cars
- Nationwide coverage
- Makes more sense than car sharing services for use of a day or more
Why you shouldn’t choose Nikoniko Rentacar
- Web site only in Japanese (ask a friend or hotel staff to help)
- Tokyo locations not as ubiquitous as some of the big players
- Not as convenient for short term/short notice use – car sharing programs like Times Car Plus are better for this
|Name:||Nikoniko Rentacar (ニコニコレンタカー)|
|Pricing info:||From 2,525yen (12 hours)|
|Location(s):||Nihonbashi, Ningyocho, Shiba, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Takadanobaba,|
Link in Japanese
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