Hokkaido popular car rental locations

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    New Chitose Airport

    Japan's physically largest airport.
    Chitose Airport is complete with a Rent-a-Car window in both the domestic and international terminals (2 locations on the first floor). Cars are not allowed to park on the road in front of the airport terminal, so customers will be taken to the Chitose rental car office via charted bus.

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    Sapporo Station

    Main station of Sapporo, Hokkaido's capitol. Since this is the main station, there are many rental car companies are within walking distance. With the JR Tower next door, various malls, and an underground shopping center, we recommend departing from here. When you return your car, you can buy souvenirs at JR Tower!

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    Hakodate Airport

    A paradise for shopping and sightseeing
    This airport is smaller than New Chitose, so it is easy to find the Rent-a-Car windows. (Domestic flights: right after entering the arrival lobby; International flights: after arriving, exit the building and head to the domestic terminal). After you've finished with reception paperwork, staff will take you to the office. You can start your trip as soon as you have your car! Visit the foreign-styled Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses, Yu-no-kawa hot springs, and the "Million Dollar Nightscape" of Hakodate!

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Hokkaido Rental Car Trip FAQ

Most cars in Hokkaido are provided with studless tyres.

Depending on the season and the rent-a-car store branch however, there might be cases where you will be equipped with tire chains instead.
If you want to check the standard issue period, please refer to the 「2018-2019 Winter Complete List of Snow Tire-Free Standard Issue Period and Costs」inside the "The Need for Renting Snow Tires in Japan, Costs, Reservation Procedures" column.
If you have any more questions, please enquire at the customer service center of rentacar.com.

HEP stands for "Hokkaido Expressway Pass."

"Hokkaido Expressway Pass" is a pass exclusively for foreign travelers in Japan that allows them unlimited rides in Hokkaido expressways for a fixed fee from a period of 2 ~ 14 days from the day of their selections.
This is very profitable, particularly in the case of long-term usage of more than 8 days, as all travel fees become less than 1,000 Yen when calculated per day. If you are planning on using the HEP Card via Webrentacar.com, please join the "Hokkaido Expressway HEP Reservation Plan" and other Rent-a-car companies will be notified.

Fuel up ahead of time," "Be careful of animals in the middle of the road," and "Lots of drivers will be speeding.

These are the most frequent pieces of advice we hear from those driving rental cars in Hokkaido.

"Fuel up ahead of time!"...
Up in the vast land of Hokkaido, it can sometimes take a long time to find a gas station. It is not a big problem in urban areas, but if your tank reaches 1/3 full, start looking for a place to fill it up.

"Be careful of animals in the middle of the road!"...
Again, this is not a big problem in urban areas, but you may see animals you would never see on Japan's main island and get surprised, whether you have been to Hokkaido before or not. Please pass them by without getting close or trying to feed them. If you feel in danger at any point, please report it.
If you see a very unusual looking fox, do not touch it!
The northern fox may carry a parasitic tapeworm called "echinococcus" that can also infect humans.
We ask those traveling with children to be especially cautious!

"Lots of drivers will be speeding!"...
The roads in Hokkaido are very wide, and there are many drivers who speed on them. An inexperienced rental car driver may find this difficult to handle.
Please drive within the legal speed limit, pay attention to how fast other drivers are going, and have fun!

The first snowfall in Sapporo may happen any time from the end of October to the beginning of November.

However, the snowfall and temperature in Hokkaido always depends on the region. Before you begin your travel via Rent-a-Car, it is absolutely vital that you check the weather forecast, as well as perform a car check and replace chains or any other car parts as necessary.
The first snow-capped peaks are seen in Mount Asahidake, at the third half of September. In general, snow begins falling during the end of October, and stops falling in April or May; it will take a long time for snow to completely disappear from the skies of Hokkaido.

There are some companies that have counters in the airport and some that operate outside the airport.

There are 6 companies with counters within the airport (International Terminal) Times Car Rental, Orix Rent a Car, Nissan Rent a Car, Nippon Rent a Car, Budget Rent a Car and World Net Rent a Car. If you are using one of these car rental services, there will be a member of staff waiting for you in the centre of the arrivals lobby.

Customers travelling domestically will need to report to the central information desk on the 1st floor.
After exiting the arrivals gate continue to your left and take the escalator on your left when you reach the end of the walkway. As you approach the centre of the floor you will come to an information counter.
You will need about 10 minutes to get there. If you need a vehicle straight away you can choose a company from the counter within the airport.

It's not too difficult.

Advanced driving techniques are not required, but there are a few points to note.
The first point is to maintain sufficient distance between cars and to not brake suddenly. If you brake suddenly on the surface of a frozen road, you will not be able to stop even if you have a studless tires equipped, and there is a danger of a rear end collision. Sudden handling of the steering wheel is also the cause of spins.

The second point is that in case of a heavy snowstorm, stop immediately and do not leave the car. Hokkaido has a "fixed sighting post" on the road that indicates the location of the road when a snowstorm occurs, but if the snowstorm occurs heavily, the road will be white-out and become insensible. In such a case, stop temporarily and flash the hazard. And please wait until the snowstorm weakens.If you go outside, you may be run over by a following car, so please remain inside your vehicle.

The third point is to rent a 4WD car. It has excellent running stability, and you can escape comparatively easily if one wheel into the snow or fall into a hole.

Drives in Hokkaido in winter change greatly depending on weather conditions. Make a reasonable plan, for example, to travel about half the distance in the summer.

Road trip in Hokkaido? Check out these spots!

Asahiyama Zoo (Asahikawa)

Enjoy the sight of animals living spirited and carefree at Japan's most popular zoo!
Only at Japan's northernmost zoo can you see not only the brown bear, Yezo sika deer, and Ezo red fox, but the ever popular polar bear and penguin!
The zoo emphasizes "natural exhibits," being able to see the natural behavior and movements of the animals from the wild without human training or interference.
You can visit the special wintertime attraction "March of the Penguins" or some of the often-photographed regular exhibits, such as the seal or polar bear pen. You can also watch animals during their feeding time! No matter the attraction or exhibit, you will see animals living spirited and carefree - that's the charm of Asahiyama Zoo!

Why rent a car?

Japan's most popular zoo Asahiyama Zoo does have a weak point... and that is access.
People staying in Asahikawa can take a bus at Asahikawa Station, but anyone staying at the Hokkaido's capitol Sapporo may end up heading to Asahikawa Station only to miss the bus for the zoo. Getting there can take a lot of time and trouble.
There are also tour buses that leave from Sapporo, but those also come with a lot of time and restrictions. When you get to the zoo, you won't be able decide how much time to spend there.
In summer, you may also want to visit Furano, a town famous for its lavender fields, but find it difficult on trains and buses.
When you look at all these small problems, traveling by train just isn't convenient anymore. That's where Rent-a-Car comes in!
Below is a list of distances and times from Asahiyama Zoo to other nearby points of interest.

  • Asahikawa Station...
    Dist: about 11 km * Time: about 30min
  • Asahikawa Airport...
    Dist: about 15 km * Time: about 30min
  • Furano...
    Dist: about 57 km * Time: about 1hr 15min
  • Sapporo...
    Dist: about 150km * Time: about 2hr
  • New Chitose Airport...
    Dist: about 190km * Time: about 2hr 2min

When you're going to Hokkaido, you have to see Asahiyama Zoo. If you want to get the most out of your short trip, we highly recommend a refreshing drive through Hokkaido's nature as you travel!

Nightscape View (Sapporo)

Nightscape of Hakodate reigns no more - the nightscape of Sapporo is considered one of the top 3 great nightscapes of Japan! Many people in Japan think the cities with the three best views at night are at Kobe, Nagasaki, and Hakodate.

For a long time these three were considered the top 3 great nightscapes of Japan, but after the "Nightscape Summit" in 2015, the nightscape of Hakodate was removed from the list, and Hokkaido took its place!

Of course Hakodate's "Million Dollar Night View" still has its charm, but this time Sapporo has good reasons to be chosen: the Mt. Moiwa Observatory, known for being a popular dating spot in Sapporo; the Sapporo Television Tower, which overlooks Odori Park and houses both the JR Tower Observatory T38 at 160m high and the Okurayama Jump Field, a viewing lounge at the top; and other additional hidden spots, such as Asahikawa Memorial Park or Miyaoka Park! With all these fantastic spots to see at night, it's no wonder Sapporo was chosen as one of the top 3!

Why rent a car?

Of Sapporo's many, many great spots to see at night, the most popular is the Mt. Moiwa Observatory. With a 360 degree panoramic view of the city at night as well as the "Bell of Happiness," found in the observatory on the summit, it's become a romantic dating spot for young couples.

There is also a legend that says if a couple writes their names on a padlock and fastens it to the handrail there, they will never break up. Most people access Mt. Moiwa's observatory via a city streetcar.
However, the streetcar does not go directly to the ropeway; instead, you must transfer to a shuttle bus partway through. You can board the streetcar from the Streetcar Stop West 4-chome or from the Susukino stop. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the ropeway entrance to the open-air observatory, after spending 5 minutes on the shuttle bus. However, if you are traveling at night, especially during the winter, the cold will make the trip feel much longer. If you use a rental car, you can park at a free parking lot close to the ropeway entrance at the foot of Mt. Moiwa. For those who want to drive up the mountain themselves, there is a sightseeing lane on the south side of the mountain about 3.5 km long that goes halfway up the mountain. (*Lane closed during winter.) There is a parking lot at the halfway point with an 80 car capacity, so please don't worry. That being said, the Mt. Moiwa ropeway and streetcar have been promoted in an effort to reduce effects on the natural environment, so we ask that any drivers please use a hybrid car that is good for the environment if they are driving up the mountain.

Furano - Biei Area

The super popular areas to visit in Hokkaido's best season, Furano and Biei
Generally when people think of the best season to visit Hokkaido, they think of winter and snow. But the truth is, Hokkaido's most popular season for tourists is summer! The most popular summer tourist attraction? The famous lavender fields of Furano! Furano's lavender season can be split into two parts: early blooming and late blooming. Early blooming flowers start to bloom from mid to late June, and are in full bloom by early July. Late blooming flowers start blooming in early July, fully bloomed in mid to late July. Of course, it's not just Furano - you can see wide beautiful purple flower fields all over the region. Furano doesn't just have lavenders, though: you can also visit the Furano Ropeway, which recently added a panoramic deck in 2013; one of Hokkaido's garden passes, the Wind Garden; and the museum, which was featured in the national drama "From the Northern Lands" and has since enjoyed a firmly rooted popularity. The nearby Biei is also a popular spot to visit, featuring sightseeing spots such as the Blue Pond and Shikisai-no-oka (Four Seasons Colored Hill). Between Furano and Biei, summer vacations in Hokkaido are getting more and more popular.

Why rent a car?

You frankly can't see the charming vistas of Furano and Biei without a rental car. So if you want to know what parts of Furano and Biei a rental car is useful for, the answer is "everywhere." You can get to Furano Station from Sapporo using the train, but there aren't many buses that can go from Furano to Biei. Making connecting trips is also difficult, so if you don't have much time, going sightseeing everywhere you want is almost impossible. On the other hand, if you're driving in a rental car, none of these spots are that far apart, and we believe that you'll be able to get a full view of everything you want to see in 1.5 to 2 days. Asahiyama Zoo is only about 1hr and 15min away, so you can also do additional sightseeing at other popular tourist spots. We also recommend the 250km long garden passes; they connect the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, Furano, and Tokachi and are also a popular sightseeing spot. Please enjoy a refreshing summer drive in your rental car through the great nature of Furano and Biei!