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Takeshi Suzuki

Tokyo Car Rental 4

Tokyo Car Rental 1

There are many methods of getting around in Tokyo. The city has some of the most convenient public transportation around, with a regular schedule of buses and trains that will get you anywhere you want to go.

Most people forget about their Tokyo car rental options. I mean, who wouldn’t? You don’t have a Japanese driver’s license. One wrong move, and you’re going to have a highway police encounter with a very serious patrolman who is going to cite you for…well, who knows? And if you make a wrong turn, how are you supposed to find your way back? If you don’t speak Japanese, good luck

(Editor’s Note: And if you’re an American, the steering wheel is on the other side of the car! Also, there is no such thing as a “left turn on red” here. And although I tell my relatives the contrary, you cannot fire blue shells out of the hood at the guy on his Sunday Drive in the middle of the week.)

Yes, most people will tell you that using a car within Tokyo is a bad idea. However, it can be a speedy and economical alternative to public transportation if you have to get to several places quickly.  Rental cars are handy especially when you want to travel around the rural areas of Japan, where public transportation may be underdeveloped or inefficient. Using rental cars allows people to access areas that public transport can’t get to.

Actually owning a car in Tokyo is a burden. But when headed out on a road trip beyond the city, a Tokyo car rental is a good option, especially if you’re a large group and have a lot of baggage. Also, driving is Japan is enjoyable–the roads are in good repair, and there are special yellow trucks with lights that keep the highways and byways of Japan clear of debris. Service areas appear every 50 km or so, and they have food courts, restaurants, coffee shops, bathrooms and even souvenir stores. A Tokyo rental car allows you to control your experience and allows you to see the sights and enjoy the beauty that is Japan.


Rules of the Road

If you intend to a Tokyo car rental service, you are going to need to know the rules of the road. The Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF) has translated the Japanese Rules of the Road into several languages, both in print and digital formats. You can find them at this link.


A Couple of Warnings

Tokyo Car Rental 3

WARNING #1: In mountainous areas (such as around Mount Fuji), you’re going to have a problem if you miss something or have to turn back. Service areas in these parts only let you return to the highway going in the same direction–you cannot use them to turn around and go the other way. You may have to drive an hour or so before you can turn around. If your car rental agency offers a navigator in English, get it!

WARNING #2: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, GET “GAS” FROM A GREEN PUMP! In Japan there is no central heating in most homes, and kerosene room heaters are common. At service stations, kerosene pumps are green and might be on the same pump “island” as automotive gas, and often has the exact same kind of pump handle. Worse, kerosene is cheaper than automotive gas. I’ve had to rescue people several times after they pulled up to the pump, made an economic decision based on gas station signs they couldn’t read, and filled their car’s gas tank with kerosene. If you do this, your car will not go very far afterwards and you will liable for a very large repair bill with the Tokyo car rental company.

Tokyo Car Rental 4

WARNING #3 (Especially for Americans): The police in Japan sometimes use lights and sirens to pull people over. Other times, they just use lights. Either way, pull off to the side of the road. If they follow behind you, come to a stop.

Also, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation, the police will take you from their car and put you in the back of theirs. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO JAIL (that is what this means in America). This is for the safety of both the officer and the person who has been pulled over. If you were Japanese, they would make you write your own ticket. You know, just like when you were in school and had to write apology notes! But here, they’ll write it for you. If you get a ticket, be sure to take it to a post office to pay the fine before you leave. I hear some nasty extra charges could be incurred if you think you’ll just leave the country and not come back. Remember, the Tokyo car rental place has your information and your credit card.

WARNING #4: If you get into an accident or have trouble with your vehicle, light flares and place warning triangles 100 meters and 50 meters behind your car. This helps other motorists see and avoid you. Do your part to prevent further accidents!


Tokyo Car Rental Basics

Tokyo Car Rental 2

In order to rent a car, you would need a valid international driver’s permit (IDP). You can obtain one in your home country (in the US, you can get one through AAA) or at any one of Tokyo’s many Drivers’ License Centers. In order to obtain an IDP you must be at least 18 years old and have an existing license from your home country. The permit is only valid for one year.

Here’s an approximate range of rental fees for certain cars:

  • Sub – Compact Cars = 5,000
  • Compact = 7,000
  • Medium Size = 12,500
  • Regular Size = 15,000
  • Vans = 20,000

Here’s a list of reliable Rental Car Agencies you can access in Tokyo…

Toyota Rent-a-Car ||| Nippon Rent-a-Car ||| ORIX Rental Car ||| Time’s Car Rental ||| Nissan Rent-a-Car

…and you can possibly snag cheaper deals through intermediaries…

Japan Experience ||| TooCoo

Have fun and drive safely!

Check out the links below for other options on getting around in Tokyo–

January 12, 2017 0 comment
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samurai museum

samurai museumThe cultural hub in Shinjuku called “Kabukicho” is home to the many different stores and buildings that embody a section of Japanese culture. Among the shops and attractions is one that stands out to tourists and those interested in the warrior culture of medieval Japan. The Samurai Museum is dedicated to these brave warriors, and inside are fantastic displays of their armor and weapons. Each artifact has a history behind it.

samurai museum shinjuku 3The Samurai Museum offers tours in both Japanese and English. They delve deeply into the samurai culture, and visitors can learn a great deal about their lives and how they fought.  Though the museum may seem small, it contains five different exhibits which displays the different parts of the lives of samurai.

samurai museum 9The Samurai Museum also offers “Tate and Iai,” a showy instruction that demonstrates the Japanese “Way of the Sword.” It is very engaging and, because of the small area of the room, and you are very close to the demonstration–so close that the blade may sometimes be only inches from your face! The Samurai Museum instructors offer bolder visitors a chance to try the “Tate and Iai” along with the instructor and experience a small Japanese battle scene! But you shouldn’t go into battle unprotected, which is why you should don the o-yoroi samurai armor before engaging the enemy. Also, make sure you get your picture taken! The demonstration occurs four times a day, at 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 19:00.

samurai museum 4

samurai museum 7Even if you end up in a rush and can’t take the time to explore the museum, stop by the gift shop when you pass by! They offer items such as replica swords, armor, shirts, mugs and other items as souvenirs or gifts.

And since you’ll want to upload your photos right away, they have free wi-fi!

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Samurai Museum Shinjuku Location Information

Website (English) ||| Facebook (English) ||| Twitter (English) ||| Instagram

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10:30 am – 9pm (last entry 8:30 pm)

Entrance Fee: 1800 yen for adults, 800 yen for children under 12, children 3 and under free. Plus souvenirs!

“Why Go?”: What? I can’t believe anyone would have to explain this to you! Weren’t you ever a kid?

Click on one of the links below to explore more of Tokyo–

December 14, 2016 0 comment
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Tokyo Knife Stores Sugimoto

If there’s one thing Japan is known for, it’s the quality of their blades. Tokyo knife stores stock cooking knives, high-end barbering scissors, clippers, and much more. So if you work with a blade, you will want to consider visiting one of the places on our list of Top Tokyo Knife Stores.

Or maybe you’d like to create your own blade? Voyagin can get you in with a genuine Japanese swordsmith so you can forge your own authentic samurai knife.

Tokyo Knife Stores: Aritsugu

aritsugu Tokyo Knife Stores

Aritsugu is one of the smaller stores located in Tsukiji, with a good selection of sashimi knives and kitchen knives.  It is located in the outskirts of the Tsukiji Fish Market, near all the food stands. Maybe you could grab a bite to eat while knife-shopping!

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (Click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 6am – 3pm



Tokyo Knife Stores Kama-AsaKama-Asa, located on Kappabashi Street, is the largest knife store on this list. Though their knife collection is what makes them special, they also hold a wide variety of household goods such as plates, chopsticks, strainers, and many other Japanese cooking tools.  Kama-Asa can also make customized knives for individuals who have certain specifications or just want a unique knife. And on the second floor is a museum which shows the store’s history!

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (English and French) ||| Instagram

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat (9:30am-5:30pm) Sun or Holiday (10am – 5:30pm)



Tokyo Knife Stores KamataYou can’t miss Kamata–along with the huge knife sign, they have two small Kappa statues in front of the store. Though their small is smaller than most, they have one corner facing the streets dedicated to showing passersby the process of making a knife. You watch as their blacksmiths create and sharpen knives right in front of you. Many are designed with waves, flowers and other iconic Japanese symbols. The owners of the store are very friendly, English-speaking, and assist their customers in getting their knives home via the mail or through airport security by way of a Letter of Consideration.

Website (English) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 12-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 6pm. Occasionally intermittent closings; check website for details



kanesoh Tokyo Knife Stores

Kanesoh is located in the heart of Asakusa, on the outskirts of Senso-ji temple. This Tokyo knife store attracts many customers, mostly globetrotting chefs and knife enthusiasts. Although famous for their knife collection, they also make other items with stainless steel such as scissors, carving tools, chopsticks and even tweezers!

Website (Japanese only) ||| Online Store (Japanese only)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 11am-7pm



The designs of the knives at Kappa-Bashi have an antiquated feel. The handles are made of wood and there are no designs on the blade. Their knives range from small to katana size. When I entered, the store was packed with people asking about how they make the knives and asking to see them. The owner of the stores knows a little English, which will help with your purchase.

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5:30pm


Koshi no Ittou

Tokyo Knife Stores Koshi no IttouOne of the smaller Tokyo knife stores in Kappabashi Street in Asakusa, Koshi no Ittou is a simple store that offers a variety of goods made of stainless steel – nail cutters, tweezers, carving tools, knives and even gardening tools!  Interestingly, though most of the knives on display are theirs, a couple selections of knives are from other knives stores around Japan, put on display. The prices are lower, but the quality is on par with the other Tokyo knife shops along Kappabashi Street.

Website and Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 5pm



Tokyo Knife Shops Masamoto SohUnlike most Tokyo knife stores, which are located in Asakusa or Tsukiji, Masamoto-Sohhonten is located in Honjo-Azumabashi (one stop from Asakusa).  The store eschews the old-fashioned look for a more modern aesthetic, and is located on the first floor of an office building. Their knives are simply forged, with unique wavy designs on the upper end of the blade. These knives are high-quality issue, and the owner is both quite knowledgeable about knives and an excellent English speaker.

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Honjo-Azumabashi Station (Toei-Asakusa Line)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5pm



Tokyo Knife Stores SugimotoSugimoto is the biggest out of all the Tokyo knife stores found in Tsukiji. They have the largest variety of knives in the area, ranging from simple kitchen knives to the professional-grade knives and on to the artistic pieces. This store is actually located inside the Tsukiji Fish Market. You can’t miss it due to its size and the very welcoming owners.

Website (English) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 7am – 4pm



Tokyo Knife Shops Tougen-MasahisaTougen-Masahisa is a small custom Tokyo knife store where the knives are made on-site. The store has shelf after shelf of simple but effective blades.

Website (English) ||| Online Store (English)

Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (Toei-Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 5am – 3:30pm



Tsubaya is one of the oldest Tokyo knife stores on Kappabashi – a very small place with a whole lot of history. Their knives are works of art, with unique designs and name customizations. They’re so old-fashioned that they don’t even have a website–but they have a great reputation nonetheless, as this review will tell you.

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 9am – 5:45pm



Tsukiji-Masamoto is a knife store located in the outskirts of the Tsukiji Fish Market – as you exit the station and approach the market, it is probably the first store you will see. The workers inside are making the knives right in the middle of the store. As you enter, you notice many pictures of famous chefs with the Tsukiji-Masamoto knives in their hands. Their knives are primarily for slicing fish, but they also carry a selection chef’s knives. One of the stranger things about Tsukiji-Masamoto is that they accept US dollars and Euros as well as Yen. But with knives like this, we can see why you would be in a rush to get from the airport.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Tsukijishijou Station (via the Toei Oedo Line) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 6am – 3pm

Click on one of the links below to explore other shopping options in Tokyo–

December 2, 2016 0 comment
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