The Gotemba Premium Outlets are part of a national network of nine outlet stores in Japan. There are over 200 stores in the outlets from many popular brands such as Gap and Coach. It’s also in a unique location – not too far away from the foot of Mount Fuji and the historical / touristy Hakone region.
Gotemba Premium Outlets make special offers available to foreigners from their information center – coupons are distributed to those showing non-Japanese passports. Now, Toyota Rent-a-Car, in partnership with Gotemba Premium Outlets, is offering special tourist rates on rental cars from certain locations. These include the rental stations outside of the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train stops at Mishima and Shin-Fuji, as well as the JR station in Gotemba. These are ideally situated for those who want to drive to certain areas that are out of reach, or just want the convenience of a car to go to areas such as the Gotemba outlets, Mount Fuji or Hakone.
As a sample, a 6-hour rental of a standard car goes for around 6,000 yen, while a full day’s rental goes for around 8,000 yen. Of course larger and more luxurious vehicles will cost extra. They are also offering a 10% discount off of all of these rates by printing a coupon from the Gotemba Premium Outlets website. Just click on the “Rent a car plan” graphic.
Of course, not only do you have to consider the expenses for renting a car, you must also adhere to Japanese traffic laws and you must have a drivers license recognized in Japan. Fortunately, the official English web site for Toyota Rent-a-Car explains a lot if you are interested in a car rental. Also you must keep in mind that a reservation must be made by telephone – presumably the “Toll Free” number listed on their web site is for reservations in English, and they take reservations 7 days a week from 7 AM to 7 PM *Japan Time*. Which means for us in North America, an evening or early morning call to make the reservation.
One of the things that is offered in the Gotemba Premium Outlets offer, according to their brochure, is a free ETC card rental. ETC is Electronic Toll Collection which is used on Japan’s major highways. It’s the EZPass, TollTag and FasTrak of Japan, basically. The toll charges are lower than cash, and presumably any charges are placed on your final bill. Also, a GPS device which can operate in English is available to use.
The 24 hour rental seems to be a good deal if you will be visiting any areas around Fuji, Hakone or Gotemba, or visiting/staying at any surrounding areas that might be out of reach. For example, know of a good onsen near Mishima that you want to visit? If it’s nowhere near public transit, driving a car there may be beneficial.