A Car Enthusiast’s Dream – Driving A Nissan GTR Rental in Japan
I love cars. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re supercars or classics, tuner builds or imports, the thought of cruising on new roads makes me excited. When we were planning our three-month trip to Japan, I was looking around for things to do that might involve automobiles or racing.
I found some cool museums and race tracks, but they were either out of the way or had no events on days we would be close by. I tabled the idea and finished working on other aspects of our trip.
The first four weeks of our trip, we spent driving the southern regions of Japan. The more hours I put behind the wheel, the more comfortable I became with Japan’s rules of the road (including driving on the left side).
One day I drove past a beautiful car painted bayside blue, the R34 Nissan Skyline GTR. If you’ve seen any of the Fast and the Furious movies, you know that Paul Walker’s character is all about the tuner cars, especially the Nissan GTR.
In the second installment of the movie franchise, Paul’s character pulls up in a car that made most movie-goers insanely jealous, the same R34 Skyline GTR I saw in Japan. If you’re doing a quick Google search, you might be wondering why a 20+-year-old Japanese supercar is such a big deal.
Aside from its immense history, it is currently (for the most part) illegal to own in the United States. Most American car enthusiasts have never even seen a Skyline in person, a less driven one.
I started my search again. Was there a way for me to see one up close, ride in one, or possibly even drive it? My searching brought me to two options, a guided tour around Mt Fuji or a specialty car rental near Tokyo where I could drive a Nissan GTR rental.
Renting A Nissan GTR from Fun2Drive
The first option, Fun2Drive is a guided group tour that allows you (and a group) to drive a variety of Japanese and imported sports cars. Fun2Drive also has the option to rent a variety of Japanese and other exotic sports cars. The guided tour sounds great for people who don’t want to try and navigate on their own or have a number of people in their group who want to drive.
For certain cars, you can also rent without a guide. However, when we went to the Fuji Five Lakes area and Hakone it was quite rainy and I didn’t want to spend the day driving in poor weather conditions and many of the tours are canceled in the event of inclement weather. Thus, I didn’t end up renting a car from Fun2Drive.
However, some of the driving routes there looked incredible so if you decide you want to do the tour you have a few options.
Cost of the Nissan GTR Rental from Fun2Drive
- Ultimate Hakone Drive
- Available MWF 12pm-6pm
- Cost: ~54,800 yen
- Holy Mt. Fuji Drive
- Available T/TR 1pm-5pm
- Cost: ~43,800 yen
- Comparative Drive
- Available daily, one-hour tour
- Cost: ~21,800 yen
Other Cars to Rent from Fun2Drive
If you aren’t interested in renting a Nissan GTR then there are other cars available too including Lotus Elise, Porsche 911 Turbo 964, Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari F355, Toyota Supra, and Nissan KPGC10 just to name a few.
Location: 1143 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631, Japan // MAP
Renting A Nissan GTR from Omoshiro Rent-A-Car
Option two was Omoshiro Rent-A-Car north of Tokyo which is where I ended up renting a Skyline R34 for a day.
Omoshiro has a large variety of sports cars, but only as a rental service (no tours available). From Tokyo Station, it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes via train and walking to get to the rental place. We were able to book online via their website, and they have a number of booking options.
You can rent a car for 6 hours, 9 hours, 24 hours, ‘night-time’ (an evening rental), and additional day bookings. I decided to go with the 9-hour rental so we were able to pick up the car early and not have to be in a hurry to return the car. It was the perfect amount of time for the route we decided to take.
For a 9-hour rental, it cost us 23,040 yen ($192.88 at the time) and we declined the collision waiver due to our credit card having coverage. However, if you don’t have additional coverage it’s worth purchasing it just in case something happens while you’re driving the car.
Omoshiro has a number of Nissan GTRs to pick from including R32, R33, R34, and R35 GTRs. Of course, I went with the Nissan Skyline R34 GTR.
Driving Routes for the Nissan GTR Rental
Once I decided on the bayside blue R34 GTR, I had to decide where we wanted to take our drive. There are a number of routes you can take and places to visit for a day trip from Tokyo, but we decided to explore Nikko. North of Nikko is a road called the Irohazaka, which was made famous in an anime about racing called Initial D.
This pair of winding roads head up and back down the mountains of the Okunikko region. Iroha stands for the first three syllables of the old Japanese alphabet, which has 48 letters total and zaka means “slope”.
Similarly, the Irohazaka has 48 hairpin turns as it winds up and down the mountainside. At the top of the mountain is Lake Chuzenjiko, which has beautiful waterfalls to explore.
After we drove up the Irohazaka Road we visited Yudaki Falls which was one of the attractions we were unable to visit during our visit to Nikko days prior. We grabbed lunch at the nearby restaurant and also got some grilled dango.
Nikko is a popular place to visit in the autumn due to all the fall foliage and driving the Irohazaka route is exceptionally beautiful during this time too, but it comes with a slight disadvantage. I’ve read that traffic can get very congested with tour buses and cars during the fall so it may make it a bit less fun from a driving perspective because chances are, you’ll have to stop more.
A number of official websites recommend avoiding weekends and holidays during the autumn season due to traffic delays. When we went in the summer it was beautiful, albeit a bit warm. We namely used Google Maps to plan out our route.
Other Driving Routes
I ultimately decided to drive my Nissan GTR rental to Nikko because it is a short day trip from Tokyo and has a nice area to drive. But there are a number of other places you could drive a rental car from Omoshiro Rent-A-Car that are a short distance from Tokyo. There are many routes I’d love to do if I ever rent another sports car from Omoshiro. Here are two additional routes I found that are somewhat close by, have epic views, and are thrilling roads!
- Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line // Information
- Location: Kanagawa / Chiba
- Length of Route: 14 km (9.4 km through an underground tunnel)
- Bandai-Azuma Skyline// Information
- Location: Fukushima
- Length of Route: 28 km
Cost of the Nissan GTR Rental from Omoshiro Rent-A-Car
- 6 hours: 18,440 yen
- 9 hours: 23,040 yen
- 24 hours: 32,260 yen
- Night Time: 23,040 yen
- *Prices are subject to change.
Toll roads and gas were a significant part of the cost as well, especially the fuel. Premium fuel is what is needed for high-performance cars, and while I’m sure my driving had nothing to do with it (haha), the amount of fuel purchased was much higher than driving a regular car in Japan.
Other Cars to Rent from Omoshiro Rent-A-Car
Again if you aren’t wanting to do a Nissan GTR rental, Omoshiro Rent-A-Car has a number of other options to choose from too. A few of these include Toyota Supra, Honda S660a, Nissan Fairlady Z, Mazda RX-7, Subaru Impreza, and a few imports like Lamborghini and Porsche.
Location: 860 Yamazaki, Noda, Chiba 278-0022, Japan // MAP
Other Things to Know About Renting A Nissan GTR
- You must be 26 in order to rent and drive. This rule applies only to Fun2Drive and Omoshiro Rent-A-Car.
- You have to have your passport and an International Driving Permit in order to rent. Your passport acts as your form of ID and an International Driving Permit is required to drive while in Japan if you are from the United States. This has to be obtained prior to visiting Japan.
- You’ll need to know how to drive a manual transmission. Almost all sports cars have manual transmissions so make sure you practice before driving one, especially in Japan.
- Spend some time driving in Japan before renting a sports car. Manual transmission and sports cars handle differently than regular cars in Japan. Plus there are a number of driving rules that are different in Japan than in the United States and other countries.
All in all, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Driving an amazing car, across a beautiful road, in Japan, one of my favorite places to visit. I highly recommend all car enthusiasts consider adding this to their bucket list.