Winter Driving

Japan Snowfall Map

Check this if you drive in winter.

According to the Japan snow fall map below, it occurs almost all over Japan.

  • Heavy snowfall (snow tires required)
    From December to end-March,
    All cars will be fitted with a free snow tire in Heavy snow Area.
    From 1st November to end-November, You can request a snow tire for free.
    Some of the car rental company offers a snow tire for a fee.
  • Medium snowfall (snow tires recommended)
    From 1st December to end-December, You can request a snow tire.
    If you are going to drive to Hevy snow area,you will need a snow tire.
  • Light snowfall (may need snow tires)
    If you are going to drive to Hevy snow area,you will need a snow tire.
  • No snowfall

IMPORTANT Notes About Winter Tires

Do you want to drive in Japan during winter?
You should check the weather of your destination in advance.
If it might be snowing, you need to have the proper winter equipment.

Be sure to choose the Snow Tire Plan when making a reservation.
  • You can NOT receive snow tires if you do not reserve them in advance.
  • You can not have it, even if you order upon arrival.
Winter Road

1) Order Snow Tires option

If you are planning to drive in the area where it may snow, please be sure to order Snow tires option.
Snow tires option is the TOP priority to drive on snowy/icy road.
Snow tires option can not be offered even if your destination is snowy area, unless you request it in advance.
Driving with normal tires is dangerous, even if you have 4WD car.

Please do not install snow chains on snow tires. Snow chains cause damage to the snow tires.
Reservation might be refused by the rental car company if it is too dangerous to drive with normal tires during snow/icy conditions.

*You can drive a car with snow tires even if there is no snow or ice on the road.

Winter Warnings

  • Test your brake distance

    When there is no car in front or behind you, please try to test your brake distances in the snowy/icy condition.

    Brake Dist
  • Wild Animal Crossing

    When driving in rural areas, drivers need to be aware of animals that might be crossing the road or highway at all times.

    Wild Animal
  • Hokkaido Special Traffic Signs

    In heavy snowfall areas, there are special signs that mark the edge of the road or the center line, even when the road is covered in snow. There might also be arrows pointing down or snow poles at the side of the road.

    Hokkaido Special Traffic Signs
  • Black Ice

    Although the road may look the same, black ice can form suddenly and may not be visible. Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses, and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.

    Black Ice

    If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don’t brake - this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this maneuver several times until you regain control.

    Black Ice
  • Window Wipers

    Pull the wipers up when you park. They can freeze on the windshield overnight.

  • Static Electricity and Fire Risk

    In dry areas, the body can easily build up static electricity. Before you refill your car's gasoline tank, there is a black button on the gas stand for you to discharge static electricity in your body.

    Static Elec
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