Skyline, Mazda RX-7, Nissan Silvia… Visitors to Japan are renting cars! Old Car Rental Boom” is happening! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Skyline, Mazda RX-7, Nissan Silvia… Visitors to Japan are renting cars! Old Car Rental Boom” is happening!

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Skyline of “Fun Rental Car” parked at the Daikoku parking area. It was rented by three tourists from Spain.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in October was estimated at 498,600 as the Japanese government resumed the acceptance of individual travelers and visa waiver measures from October 11. The number of tourists visiting Japan in October alone was more than twice that of the previous year, compared to 245,900 in the same period last year.

One activity that has become secretly popular among such visitors to Japan is renting an old Japanese car. That is renting an old Japanese car and driving around “sacred places. However, since ordinary rental car agencies such as Toyota Rent-A-Car and Nippon Rent-A-Car do not carry such old cars, they are rented at specialty rental agencies that offer a wide range of rare cars. Omoshiro Rent-a-Car, the largest old car rental store in the Tokyo metropolitan area, based in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, recorded record sales in November since its opening. The main store in Noda has 67 cars, mainly old sports cars.

As a specialty store, the rates are set high. A search for the Skyline shows cars in the 20,000 yen range for a six-hour rental (from the Omoshiro Rent-A-Car website).

The record-breaking depreciation of the yen and the global popularity of old Japanese sports cars have led to a sharp increase in reservations for old car rentals since October. While Japanese customers rent for 3 or 6 hours, many foreign customers rent for a week. In addition to old sports cars, light open cars such as the Honda S660, which is not sold overseas, are also popular. Everyone rides away smiling and happy,” said Takafumi Saito, president of Omoshiro Rent-a-Car.

On November 24, Lewis Hamilton, 37, a world-famous F1 driver, posted a video on his Instagram page showing him driving his R34 Skyline GT-R around Tokyo. The video became a topic of conversation, with more than 17 million views in total, but the car he was driving at that time was actually rented by “Omoshiro Rent-A-Car.

The “Hachi Roku” model driven by Takumi Fujiwara, the main character in “Initial D,” is also available for rent. The logo “Fujiwara Tofu Store” can be seen on the side.

Fan 2 Drive” in Hakone is also doing very well. Prices start at 14,980 yen for 1.5 hours for a Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R specification and 7980 yen for 1.5 hours for a Toyota Sprinter Toreno AE86.

Where do foreign tourists go after renting an old sports car? In recent years, the popularity of this place has increased dramatically as it has been featured on the BBC and other foreign TV stations. It seems that the area has become a “dream destination” for foreign visitors who love cars and Japanese cars.

In fact, when I visited Daikoku PA on a night in early December, three Skyline cars (R32/33/34) happened to be parked in the parking lot. When I asked them about it, they told me that they were from Spain. So, after months of reservations by a group of friends, they were finally able to come to Daikoku PA in the Skyline that they had been longing for.

Before the spread of the corona infection, Japan had over 30 million visitors per year in 2019, with an average of 2.5 million per month. The number of foreign tourists is expected to continue to increase in the future, as a result of deregulation. With this, the boom in old car rentals is sure to pick up even more momentum.

  • Interview, text, and photos Kumiko Kato

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