About us

Welcome to Freedom Car Rental, Hakuba’s newest car hire company for international drivers. We operate out of the Hakuba Shell Garage pictured above on Route 148. It’s centrally located on the main road through town. Our small fleet of well-maintained vehicles will give you freedom to enjoy all of Hakuba and Nagano. All the ski resorts, all the restaurants, all the hot springs, … all the best places to go. You can only see a fraction without a car.

Car Rental

All our hire cars have 4WD/AWD and come with snow tyres, snow wipers, and ski racks. They are fully registered and insured for car rental purposes with わ (wa) number plates. Beware unregistered operators without proper insurance! Our garage is open year-round with qualified mechanics who service the cars. Our vehicles have dash cams/drive recorders, which provide admissible evidence for the Japanese police. This avoids communication problems after accidents.

We have been renting to Japanese drivers for many years, and valet the cars before every rental. All Freedom Hakuba cars are non-smoking, and you’ll find them spotless inside.

License Requirements

To hire a car from us, you MUST have an eligible driving license for Japan. This can be any of the following.

Freedom Hakuba. Car Rental. IDP
Australia-issued IDP (name removed)

1. An International Driving Permit (IDP) from a country in the 1949 Geneva Convention. Obtain this before coming to Japan. When renting from us, also bring the driving license used to issue the permit. Here is a list of countries where you can get an IDP.

Freedom Hakuba. Car rental. Certified translation
Certified translation for a Taiwanese licence (name removed)

2. An official Japanese translation of a driving license from Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland, or Taiwan, plus the license itself. Plan in advance about getting a translation. JAF can do this on the same day, certainly at their office in Tokyo. It may be possible at their office in Nagano City, one hour from Hakuba, but we have not checked. The contact information is here.

3. A regular Japanese driving license.

We cannot make exceptions to the above rule. You can check on what you need to drive in Japan with this excellent page by Maricar, the well-known go-cart rental operation in Tokyo. Many thanks to Maricar for inviting car rental operators like us to use this resource.

Every member of your group with an eligible license may drive. There is no fee for additional drivers. There are no restrictions on mileage. We like our customers to get out and see more of Japan!

Click here to see our current cars and prices!

Facebook Posts

Hello everyone! The upper ski slopes in Hakuba have started to see some snow this week, and winter is definitely on the way! I'm still cycling, but doing it in nearly freezing temperatures isn't for everyone. Now they're gleaming with snow the mountains look bigger and tower over us down here at the bottom.

In readiness for the season to come, we've bought in all our cars for the season and have twice as many as Winter 2018/19. Our booking chart is filling up nicely, but we still have some availability for December as the season starts, in early January, and from mid February onwards. If you'd like a car or to know more about driving in Hakuba, please see our website and send me an email.


Regarding transport here, as of today, November 22, the winter shuttle bus schedule has still not been announced. We would caution visitors coming in December that last season, there were no shuttle buses at all on weekdays until December 24. While we hope for an early and solid start, we advise that there will be very little for early arrivals to do in Hakuba until the snow comes. We know from experience that ski-unfriendly weather leads to many people suddenly trying to rent cars. If you are committed to accommodation in Hakuba, a rented car will at least let you get to other tourist attractions in Nagano and Matsumoto, or indeed to other ski areas like Shiga Kogen that may see snow before Hakuba. Skiing on manmade snow is already available two hours' drive away in Karuizawa. A 2019 price rise now means you'll have to pay 2,000 yen each way per person just for the bus to Nagano City. There are trains to Matsumoto, but they are infrequent and very slow.

If you have a car booked with us, please check our website and ensure you understand how to get the proper permit you'll need to drive in Japan. We're now in the process of locking everyone in, and if you've not heard from us, please send me an email.
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All information on this website (C) Stewart Adamson 2019. All rights reserved.

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