Car Hire in Osaka
This information is correct as of July 2015
Osaka, which is well known for its gung-ho attitude on work has a part to its triumvirate with innovative and trendy Tokyo and traditional Osaka, make up the basic identity of Japan. It is also well known for its gastronomic delights from the okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) to different types of sushi. Going around here can be convenient for a car hire, which lets you move around almost without any restrictions.
Where to hire a car in Osaka
Various car hire companies from Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan, and many others can be found in various parts of Osaka. Only a few such as Budget can be found here. Most of the shops are local operators that almost always speak only in Japanese. This makes it necessary to at least have a rudimentary knowledge of the language or have a companion who knows how to speak fluently. A selection of different models of Japanese-brand cars is available in every car hire company.
Before you go about hiring a car, you should at least have an International Driver's Permit, which has a one-year validity when driving around in Japan. This would apply only for the first time you visit, though, as you will be required to get a Japanese driver's licence when going back to the country on other trips and other occasions. This can rather be a complex process, so be sure to prepare ahead if you will need to get one on your next trip.
What to expect when hiring a car from Osaka
Although the traffic can be bad here, especially during the morning and late afternoon peak hours, Japanese drivers are polite even on the road. It would be rare to see one who drives carelessly, as the majority follows the traffic regulations. They are also apt to giving way and giving thanks by bowing the head or flashing the hazard lights. Bringing your car to a full stop in front of the train tracks, as well as looking left and right before crossing is required. The Japanese Police enforces this, as a large of the road network in Japan also caters to its comprehensive train system.
Although known for their careful reputation, it is the habit of Japanese drivers to drive through the traffic lights at red, often running the first second or two if they think they can get away with it. You also cannot turn left on a red light, even if there is no traffic coming through. Be sure to follow all the traffic lights, though, as you might get flagged by the police. This can be hard to manage, as they take traffic offences seriously. Toll roads are common in Osaka and the rest of Japan, so you will need to calculate them with your expenses. Not much information can be found about congestion charges, but you should prepare for them, just in case. Parking is widely available such as in Nihon Parking Corporation, Shouwa Dengiken Parking, Mitsui Repark, and some others.
Getting to your destination
There are a number of places you can visit from Osaka. Some of them are:
Known for the world's most tender beef, Kobe is a city nestled by the Osaka Bay. It has served as an international seaport, which has made it a place friendly towards foreigners. The views can be fascinating here, especially when viewed from the enormous Ferris Wheel at Kobe Harbourland and on the Shin-Kobe aerial tramway.
Get on 阪神高速16号大阪港線 in 西区 西本町. Continue to 中央区. Take exit 都市高生田川 from 阪神高速3号神戸線. Take 国道2号線 and 県道30号線 to your destination in ５. The trip can be accomplished within 45 minutes or so, depending on the traffic conditions. Tolls have to be paid along on the way or in advance, whichever is allowed by the specific toll road you will be using.
Wild deers roam in the wilds of Nara, the first capital city of Japan. You will also find here several historic treasures, from temples and shrines to the pagodas and parks. There is also the giant Buddha statue in Todaiji Temple, which can be peaceful especially in the months outside the peak season.
To get here, you will need to get on 阪神高速1号環状線 in １丁目 from Exit 堂島料金所. Continue to 奈良市. Take the exit from 第二阪奈有料道路 and drive to 国道369号線. Tolls are asked for on the way, so be sure to find how to pay them before going ahead. The trip can take about 40 minutes, if traffic conditions are light.
As the former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto makes a fascinating destination with its natural sceneries and famous temples such as the Golden and Silver Pavilions. You should not miss the Geisha district as well, which can be amazing to behold. The local food can be especially tasty here, which can complete a well-rounded trip.
Start from 阪神高速12号守口線. Take 第二京阪道路(均一区間) to 河原町通/国道24号線 in 南区 東九条柳下町. Take exit 都市高鴨川西 from 阪神高速8号京都線 and drive to 押小路通 in 中京区. Tolls are paid on the way, with the whole drive lasting about an hour or so, if the traffic flow is continuous.