When you are driving in Japan, do you know what to do if there’s an earthquake or sudden heavy rain?
Here are some tips to keep in mind when driving in Japan in order to be prepared in case of a natural disaster.
■ If an earthquake happens when you’re driving If an earthquake starts while you’re driving, turn on the hazard/emergency lights and check the condition of nearby cars and pedestrians, then move your car to the shoulder and stop. If you brake suddenly, you could get hit from behind, so gradually reduce your speed before stopping if possible. Please wait in the car without getting out until the earthquake subsides, then check the earthquake information, damage, etc, from your mobile phone or app.
■ If you get out of the car and evacuate If there is a tsunami warning issued or the road is damaged and you cannot continue, turn off the engine, close the windows, leave the car key in the ignition and do NOT lock the doors, and proceed to safety. When you leave the key in the ignition, emergency personnel will be able to move the car if it’s blocking emergency vehicles.
■ When evacuating with the car It’s very dangerous to move the car when there is an earthquake because there might be congestion, damage to the road, or debris blocking the way. Therefore, please stop the car in a safe place and walk to evacuate. If there are no buildings nearby and you must evacuate by car, drive very carefully and pay close attention to road conditions because traffic lights and signals may no longer be operational due to power failures.
2. Sudden Heavy Rain
■ If you encounter heavy rain while driving If it’s raining very hard, stop driving and park in a safe place and wait for the rain to stop.
■ Avoid underpasses Underpasses are made by digging down from the surrounding road, such as underground roads passing under railways or highways. During heavy rain, underpasses are dangerous because they can be easily flooded by several meters of water. During heavy rainfall, never attempt to drive into a flooded area.
■ “I think I can make it” driving is extremely dangerous It’s extremely dangerous to think that you can drive through flooded roads, even if you think it’s shallow. Even a small amount of water can sweep away a car. If you do drive into a flooded area, it’s possible that cars in front of you will become unable to move and the water level will increase, meaning that you will be stuck. Avoid driving through any area that has standing water.
3. Heavy Snow
■ If you get stuck on a snow road If your tires slip on fresh slow and you get stuck, slowly move the car back and forth to stiffen the snow around the tires. If there’s a sand box on the side of the road, sprinkle some sand around the drive wheel.
■ If you can’t move because of heavy snow In whiteout conditions such as snowstorms, please turn on the hazard/emergency lights and and safely stop the vehicle. Since the exhaust pipe might become blocked by snow, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, so please remove the snow from the exhaust pipe while you’re waiting for assistance.
4. If Water Gets Into The Car
It’s important to stay calm even if the car engine stops in a flooded area and water gets into the car. First, remove the seatbelt, open the door, and evacuate. If the water is too high and the door won’t open, evacuate from the window. If the window won’t open, break the side window and evacuate (don’t try to break the sturdy windshield glass).
5. Car Fire
If a fire breaks out while driving, turn on the hazard lights to notify the cars around you that an emergency has occurred. Next, stop the car on the side of the road and call the 119 emergency phone number from your mobile phone. If you can, try to extinguish the fire as long as you are not exposing yourself to danger. Depending on the strength of the fire, you may be able to extinguish the flame by choking it with a jacket or water.
6. Safety Information Card – Useful Tool for Tourists Visiting Japan
This tool from the Japan Tourism Agency summarizes information about disaster preparedness, including useful websites and apps, so that tourists can enjoy a safe trip with peace of mind, even in case of a natural disaster. Please use it by all means.
Setsubun, or “節分” in Japanese, means the parting of the seasons. Every time the season changes, it’s called Setsubun, but the new year starts in spring according to the lunar calendar, so the most important Setsbun is in spring. It’s said that evil comes out at the turn of the season, so it’s very important to protect against it with a new milestone every year.
This year, Setsubun will be celebrated on Sunday, February 3, 2019. So, what do you actually do for Setsubun?
１. Bean throwing
On Setsubun, we throw beans while saying “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi,” which means “Devils are outside, luck is inside.” This tradition is called “mame maki,” where “mame” means beans (think edamame) and “maki” means throw. When you do mame maki, you are driving evil out of the house and attracting good luck into the house. Sometimes, the father of the house will dress up as the devil and children will throw their beans at him!
After you finish throwing the beans, you also have to eat some – but not off the ground! You have to eat as many beans as your age so you will get good luck and good health in the coming year.
２. Ehomaki (恵方巻)
You have to eat ehomaki during Setsubun to get good luck, too! Ehomaki means “lucky direction” sushi, and it must have at least 7 ingredients of different colors. This is because you must eat ehomaki while facing this year’s lucky direction, and you are not allowed to speak until you have finished eating the whole roll. You have to stay silent and make your wish for the new year, because luck will escape if you talk. By the way, the lucky direction this year is east by northeast! There are also some people who believe that you should close your eyes while eating, and there are even some who believe you’ll get the best luck if you laugh while eating! During Setsubun season, you can buy ehomaki at convenience stores, supermarkets, and fancy department stores too, so try it out! There are some very interesting flavors, such as all seafood ehomaki and even tonkatsu ehomaki!
To protect your house, there are some people who put the heads of sardines and decorations of holly on the entrance of their homes so that demons won’t gather. If you say this outside someone’s house, you might be disinclined to go in, too!
Customs and traditions vary depending on the region, but Setsubun is an event where parents can become demons, children can throw beans with delight, and the whole family can play and eat together. If you come to Japan during Setsubun, why not try experiencing the unique mame maki and ehomaki?
In Japan, the time period of January is called “o-shou-ga-tsu, Oshougatsu in Japan is an event for the family, much like Chinese New Year. Most Japanese people will be at home with their families come together to celebrate the New Year.
The o-souji ritual used to start on December. It has a practical and a spiritual significance. This major house cleaning is thought as a ritual to give a pleasant welcome to God on New Year’s Day.They will associate a big annual clean with spring, in Japan it’s done in the last days of the year – pretty much everywhere. Homes, schools and offices all get a thorough going over that creates a clean slate for the year ahead.
■New Year’s Decorations
After finish the house cleaning, it will start to decorate their houses with special decorations on December 28th and 30th. Please be carefully they would not do it on December 29th because that is apparently also not a good day to put up decorations because the number nine has the same sound as “suffer” (ku 苦) in Japanese, so it is also considered to be bad luck.
Let’s get to know the different Japanese new year decorations!
Kadomatsu are placed in pairs in front of the gate or front doors of homes to welcome the Shinto gods.
Shimekazari will put it on top of the house entrance to prevent bad spirits from entering and to invite the Shinto deity, to descend and visit.
A round rice-cake
Japanese people will and place these at very visible places around their homes for decoration. Placing them in different rooms is said to bring more luck, as each room will welcome Shinto gods come and stay.
■nengajo (New Year’s cards)
People say ”あけましておめでとうございます(akemashite omedetou (gozaimasu)” which is meaning congratulations on the new year. They will send New Year’s cards called ”nengajo ”to their family or someone treated well by. Although with the growth of the Internet and cell phones, the number of people who send nengajo is decreasing yearly, The receiver can know your feeling during you hand writing. However, do not send the New Year’s cards to anyone who has had a death in the family during the year.
■Huge bellbsound and toshikoshi soba” (year-crossing soba)
New Year’s Eve is called “Oomisoka” in Japanese. At Buddhist temples, huge bells are hit 108 times during midnight to get rid of all evil desires. Most people believe that huge bells are hit 108 times during midnight to get rid of all evil desires. So that we will eat the “toshikoshi soba” when we hearing the huge bells sounds and wish for a long lasting life. You can still listen the huge bells sounds even while you’re staying at home because you can see it at the TV shows.
■Events and customs
The first sunrise
It is an event to worship the first sun rising on New Year’s Day, which is the beginning of the year since it is believed that the Shinto gods of the year appear with the first sunrise. So, people pray for good luck when the first sun rises.
First visiting to the Shrine
At the beginning of the year, people go to the shrine and pray for the safety and happiness of the new year. Some people leave their home to visit the shrine on the night of the 31st, or at the midnight, and some people just go there in the morning on January 1st or afternoon. Shrines are very crowded at this time of year. The money which you can put into the wooden box for good luck is well known as the more money you put into it, the more luck you will get. On the other hands, some people believe if you put 5 Yen, it is super lucky. Since the pronunciation of 5 Yen which is ‘go en’ sounds similar to the word ‘ご縁(go en)’ which means luck.
It is a celebration meal that Japanese people have between January 1st and 3rd. Japanese people believe that Osechi dishes bring good luck in the sense of celebration. It is filled with grilled, boiled and pickled foods in a multitiered Japanese food box. It is made up of dishes which couldbepreserved longer time so that it can allow housewives who are busy with cooking take a rest around some days at the New Year.
Originally, this began with the custom to give some left over rice cakes to children. but today it has become an event for adults to give money to children. It’s a small bag of money that children receive from their parents, grandfathers, grandmothers and relatives.
You should eat Kagami-mochi which were offered to the Shinto gods after some days from the New Year day! People cut this rice cakes and put them into some red bean soup or Ozoni which is Dashi soup(Soup types and other ingredients might be changed up to the location.). They eat this praying for keeping good health of the new year. People eat this mostly on January 11th or 20th.
Every December brings the season to celebrate Christmas around the world, and Japan is no exception. Christmas in Japan has many unique characteristics as part of Japan’s culture. This time we would like to introduce to you how Japanese people celebrate Christmas.
Fried chicken and Christmas cake
Who to celebrate with
Ending the 25th night
Fried Chicken and Christmas Cake
In the United States and elsewhere, Christmas dinner is a roast turkey or ham, but the dish most associated with Christmas in Japan is fried chicken. Since turkey is difficult to find in Japan, it was replaced with chicken instead. Demand for fried chicken in Christmas season in Japan is very high, with fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and butcher shops accepting reservation as soon as December 1st. As Christmas draws nearer, fried chicken and roast chicken will be sold at convenience and grocery stores, so you will be able to see the unique Christmas atmosphere.
It is said that eating cake at Christmas is a staple for Japanese people. To produce a sense of Christmas, it is a common practice to arrange fruits and decorate it with Santa and other motifs. Incidentally, on the night of December 25, many cake shops will be selling their goods for half-price, so if you want to enjoy a more cost-effective Christmas, please time your shopping as such!
The origin of Christmas cake in Japan began with a campaign in 1922 when cake manufacturer Fujiya started selling a cake decorated with cream with the catch phrase “Let’s eat cake at Christmas!” At that time, cake was a luxury good, and ordinary people could not easily buy one, but around the 1970s, the custom to eat Christmas cake spread through every home in Japan. Whipped cream and strawberry Christmas cakes are the most popular in Japan today, but there are a variety of other flavors and decorated cakes.
Who to celebrate with
At Christmas time, Japanese people often spend more time with their romantic partner than with their families. So, for Japanese people, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are the two big romantic holidays for lovers.
By the way, it’s the same for children in Japan that Santa Claus brings Christmas presents to good children.
Ending on the 25th night
A happy Christmas will be finished at night on December 25th. The shop displays and Christmas decorations are changed immediately after closing on the 25th, and on the 26th we will enter 100% New Years mode. Of course, the Christmas tree will be put away and the traditional New Years kadomatsu (bamboo decoration) will be brought out.
Summary While incorporating Japanese customs, Christmas has evolved from the original for many years and Japan’s unique Christmas is now fully established. In December, Christmas songs playing throughout the town are not only Western traditional songs and pop music, but also Japanese original Christmas songs. Also in this season, TV and anime will also be broadcasting their Christmas episodes.
If you visit Japan in winter, why not enjoy a unique “Merry Christmas” in Japan?
Do you know what to do in a natural disaster when you’re on vacation?
In a foreign country with unfamiliar customs, culture, and no climate intuition, it can be hard to know what to do in case of trouble. We’re introducing a new app that can help foreign tourists to go safely even in case of emergency.
New Chitose Airport (International Terminal)
Please check in at the information counter on the first floor. Go out from the arrival gate and proceed left, and go to the first floor with the escalator on the left at the end. When you get to the center, there is an information counter on the right, where the “?” mark is shown below.
Haneda Domestic Airport Terminal 1 (Nippon, Toyota)
Please go to the reception counter in the arrival lobby on the 1st floor. Please use the rental car counter near “Information Desk 5,” where the orange “?” mark is shown in the map below.
After arrival, please go to the 2nd floor information counter in the Access Plaza, where the red “?” mark is shown in the middle of the map below. The information counter hours are from 9:00-18:00.
※If you arrive outside of the business hours, please go directly to the outlet from the 1st floor Access Plaza.
Kansai International Airport (Toyota, Nissan, Orix)
Please go to the reception counter of the rental car company you have reserved (Toyota, Nissan or Orix). The counters are located on the 1st floor of the Aero Plaza. It is shown as “23” on the map below.
※for customers using terminal 1: 3-minute walk from Terminal 1 via the 2F connection passage
※for customers using terminal 2: 7-minute ride from Terminal 2 via free shuttle bus.
After arrival, please go to the rental car counter located on the 1st floor of Arrival Lobby (the Car and Key mark on the map) for the registration to receive transfer service. After completed registration, shuttle service will be provided. Please go to the 3rd floor and go to the shuttle bus stop for rental car, where “Rent-a-car pick up” indicated and has big red arrow pointing on the second map. The staff will transfer you to the rental car outlet.
If there is no staff at the counter, please directly call the outlet.
Nissan: 092-433-4123 （you can use the phone at the counter）
Times: 092-432-7070 （you can use the phone at the counter）
Nippon: 092-433-0919 / 0120-65-0919 (Toll Free)
Arrival Lobby (1F)
“Rent-a-car pick up” is a Shuttle bus stop area for car-rental customer (3F)
There is free transfer service available.
After arrival, please call the outlet (092-629-5656) and wait at the meeting spot, the Domestic Terminal North Exit rental car only shuttle area. The staff will pick you up in 5-10 minutes.
Fukuoka Airport Domestic Terminal (Nippon) There are two Nippon outlets, so please be careful.
Nippon Rental Car Fukuoka Airport-Daiichi (1)
There is no transfer service.
3-minute walk from the Arrival Area South. 1-minute walk from the subway exit 4.
Nippon Rental Car Fukuoka Airport-Daini (2)
After arrival, please call the toll-free number 0120-59-0919. Please proceed to the front parking lot near the Arrival Area North. The staff will pick you up at the car rental ｢Pick-up & Drop-off zone｣.
★Customers arriving at arrivals lobby – North
Exit through exit F and cross at the zebra crossing towards a multi-storey parking lot on the opposite side. Turn left and go straight until you see a parking area for a sightseeing bus. It will have a blue sign-board saying「レンタカー、民間駐車場乗降場」which is our shuttle meeting point. Please call us once you get there. Our courtesy shuttle bus will arrive in approximately 10-15 minutes to pick you up.
Waiting time varies depending on the time of day.
※It is an on demand service so please make sure to call us. ( 092-735-8886)
★Customers arriving at arrivals lobby – South
Exit through exit A and cross at the large zebra crossing in front of you. Once across, turn right and go down the road for about 10 minutes. The branch should be visible under a large board saying 明治のおいしい牛乳.
※To make use of the shuttle service please go to the shuttle meeting point as per above and call us. ( 092-735-8886)
For customers reserved Nissan, Budget, Toyota, Times, Nippon
There is no reception counter in the airport. To receive transfer service to the outlet, please call directly at the information counter.
※For customers using domestic flight：Please come to the Tourism & General Information Office (domestic terminal, 1st floor)
※For customers using international flight：Please come to the General Information Office (International terminal, 1st floor)
Nissan Rent a Car：0995-58-2121
BUDGET Rent A Car：0995-58-3543
TOYOTA Rent a Car：0995-58-2306
Times Car Rental：0995-58-3888
Nippon Rental Car：0995-58-2539
Domestic: Tourism & General Information Office is located at “?” mark on the map below.
International: General Information Office is located at “?” mark on the map below.
There is no reception counter in the airport. To receive transfer service to the outlet, please call directly at the information counter, exit the airport at exit ① (international terminal) shown on the map below, and go ahead 30 meters to the right to the meeting place.
Sky Rent a Car phone number: 0995-58-9330
There is no reception counter in the airport. The rental car company will pick you up from the airport. If you arrive on an international flight, please go to the domestic terminal to the “Rental Car Pickup” place designated on the map below after getting your luggage. Go out of the exit and cross the pedestrian crosswalk.
For customers reserved Nissan, Times, Nippon, Sky Rent a Car, ABC Rent a car, please look for a “11-B” sign and wait there.
For customers reserved Budget or Toyota, please look for a “11-A” sign and wait there.
※For Budget’s customers, after arrival, please contact the outlet before proceeding to the waiting point. (Tel: 098-856-2200)
1. What is Telephone Translator Support?
24-hour Telephone Translator Support can respond to every place and situation in case of trouble or need for help. With this service, you can travel safely and securely in Japan.
Supported languages are Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.
Telephone Translator Support is not exclusive for rental car situations. It can be used in any situation, as you can see below.
＜Questions during shopping＞
＜When you need an interpreter at a restaurant＞
＜When you need directions＞
*The Telephone Translator Support cannot respond to any inquiries other than for translation purposes.
2. When can I use Telephone Translator Support
The service is available 24/7 if it is within the rental car usage period.
There is no limit on the number of times of use.
3. How to use Telephone Translator Support
① Please check whether or not your reservation includes Telephone Translator Support. You can confirm it from the ToCoo! options section of the Reservation Confirmed mail. If Telephone Translator Support is included in the ToCoo! options, your reservation has the service included.
② Call the dedicated Telephone Translator Support phone number and tell the operator your reference number.
*We will send the phone number and reference number to you by email 1-3 days before your rental car start date.
*The translation service is only for telephone correspondence, so it can’t be used with WiFi phone services such as Line phone, WhatsApp phone, etc.
③ Describe the situation to the operator and tell them what you need translated, then hand the phone to the other party.
④ After finishing with the interpreter, please hang up the phone.
4. Important notes
① Translation service can only be used when you are physically facing the person who you would like to translate. It is not possible to interpret for people who are not with you at the time of the phone call.
② Telephone Translator Support cannot be used as a customer service line. The translators cannot respond to any inquiries about ToCoo services, problems (such as car trouble), or any other negotiations.
③ You can’t use telephone translation service if you don’t have the reference number. If you do not receive an email with the dedicated telephone number and reference number by 1 day before the car rental service begins, please contact us from the following Inquiry Form.
④ Any call charges will be paid by the customer.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the Inquiry Form on our website.
What is an ETC card?
It’s a card that can be used with the ETC system. If you use the ETC system, you don’t need to understand Japanese, you don’t need to use cash, and you don’t have to stop at toll gates, so it’s a very convenient system. The ETC card reader device is equipped as standard in all rental cars in Japan, so all you have to do is put the ETC card into the ETC device and you’re good to go! There are many different types of ETC card passes and services available, so keep reading and we’ll go through the main ones.
What is an expressway pass?
An expressway pass is a special ETC card with the pass preloaded onto it so that you can use the expressways as much as you want. There are various kinds of ETC passes, but there are 4 that you can reserve from ToCoo! Also, you can’t reserve just an ETC pass on its own, so make sure to book the rental car with it.
Each ETC option covers a different area! Keep reading to find out more.
ETC Card Pickup Place
ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass
Rental Car Outlet
Rental Car Outlet
About the ETC Card Types
1. ETC Card (nationwide)
You can book a standalone ETC card without any expressway passes. After you return the ETC card at the end of your reservation, your actual used toll fees will be charged to the credit card you register. After the ETC card is returned, we will confirm the toll road usage details with NEXCO, the highway provider in Japan. If you rent a ToCoo! ETC card, you can pick it up from your hotel or a post office, but please note that rental car companies don’t offer delivery service for packages, so you can’t get it from the outlet.
We recommend the Free ETC Card Plan!
Check it out here! → ToCoo! ETC Card Plan
ETC System Area
2. ToCoo Expressway Pass (Nationwide)
The ToCoo Expressway Pass, or TEP, is a special ETC card that is only offered by ToCoo! It’s an unlimited expressway pass for all of Japan. TEP can only be reserved from the TEP plan, and the TEP fee is paid at the time of reservation, so it’s super convenient. All you have to do is pick it up from your hotel or a post office and basically forget about it until your return date! Total driving freedom. You can pick up the TEP ETC card package from a hotel or post office, but rental car companies don’t offer delivery services for packages, so you can’t get it from the outlet.
4. ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass (Nationwide）
The ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass is a special ETC card similar to TEP, but unlike TEP, the ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass can be added on as an option to almost any reservation. Just like TEP, the ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass fee is paid at the time of reservation, so it’s extremely convenient. You can pick up the TToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass ETC card package from a hotel or post office, but rental car companies don’t offer delivery services for packages, so you can’t get it from the outlet.
★ What’s the difference between TEP and the ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass? The difference is that the ToCoo! Unlimited ETC Pass can be added onto any existing plan. Because of that, it’s also a little more expensive than TEP.
5. TEP Hokkaido (Hokkaido)
It’s similar to TEP, this is a special ETC card offered only by ToCoo, which offers unlimited expressway use only in Hokkaido, so we recommend it for anyone who is traveling to Hokkaido! You can reserve it under the TEP Hokkaido plan. You can pick up the TEP Hokkaido ETC card package from a hotel or post office, but rental car companies don’t offer delivery services for packages, so you can’t get it from the outlet. One advantage of TEP Hokkaido is that you can drop off the car anywhere with it!
5. TEP Kyushu (Kyushu)
Similar to TEP, this is a special ETC card offered only by ToCoo, which offers unlimited expressway use only in Kyushu, so we recommend it for anyone who is traveling to Kyushu! You can reserve it under the TEP Kyushu plan. For the ToCoo! ETC card to use for TEP Kyushu, hotel and post office pickup is available. In addition, some TEP Kyushu plans have the special option for ToCoo! ETC card pickup at the rental car outlet! For details on where to receive the ToCoo! ETC card, please check the email from ToCoo! One more advantage of TEP Kyushu is that you can drop off the car anywhere with it.
6. Hokkaido Expressway Pass (Hokkaido)
The Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP) is an unlimited expressway pass that can only be used in specific Hokkaido expressway. This pass is only offered by the rental car companies, so not every outlet offers it. Also, if you use HEP, you have to pick up and return the car to the exact same outlet. If the outlet offers HEP, you can get it when you pick up the car.
★ CAUTION! ToCoo’s ETC card can NOT be used for HEP! If you want to use HEP, please book the HEP plan and don’t reserve any other ETC cards.
7. Kyushu Expressway Pass (Kyushu)
Kyushu Expressway Passis an unlimited expressway pass that can be used only on specific Kyushu expressways. This pass is also only offered by the rental car companies, so not every outlet offers it. Something to watch out for is that it doesn’t cover all the expressways in Kyushu. Please check the map below and make sure that the roads you plan to use will be covered before booking it, so that you can avoid an unpleasant surprise when you return your car.
★ CAUTION! ToCoo’s ETC card can NOT be used for KEP! If you want to use KEP, please book the KEP plan and don’t reserve any other ETC cards.。
It might seem a bit complicated, but we hope this has been helpful. Check your travel schedule and choose the best ETC card for you! As always, if you have any further questions, let us know down below or from the inquiry form on our website.
Due to the typhoon damage that occurred on September 4, 2018, Osaka’s Kansai International Airport has been temporarily closed. Additionally, New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido has also been put under restrictions due to the damage caused by the earthquake that occurred on September 6, 2018. There are also many rental car outlets which are closed temporarily. If you are preparing to travel soon, please be careful and check the details.
3. Information for those considering cancelling their travel plans
※If you cancel your trip, please cancel your rental car reservation as well.
Cancellation form → https://www2.tocoo.jp/en/member/login
If you can’t cancel your reservation from the website, please contact ToCoo!
<Caution> Although we try to post the latest and accurate information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, or usefulness. Please check the website of each company for accurate information.