30 useful tips for travel in Japan
- Driving in Snow in Japan
- If you rent a car, you may want to take a trip to one of Japan's many ski resorts, or simply explore some mountainous areas. It is very important to think before you rent a car whether you will be encountering snow or not.
- "Studless" tires vs chains
- There are a couple options for driving safely through snow: "Studless" tires, as they are called in Japan, are tires designed for driving in icy and snowy conditions. The reason they are referred to as studless, is because traditional snow tires would have "studs" designed for better traction in the snow. However, they are not exactly suitable for regular road use. Studless tires on the other hand do away with the protruding studs, yet maintain excellent traction in the snow, and moreover are suitable for regular road use.
You voice your concerns and request a vehicle with studless tires if you are going to be driving through potentially snowy areas. They are very common in Japan, and everyone who lives in snowy areas uses them.
The other option is preparing tire chains in case of snowfall. They fit around all four tires individually, and create traction by essentially acting as a platform in between the tire and the soft snow. Chains are best for traversing heavy snow, but cannot be used at high speed, and are very cumbersome to put on if you are not accustomed to it. Moreover, they must be put on in advance, because you will not be able to attach them properly if you are already stuck in snow.
- Check the weather
- Although Japan is a small island, it can have radical weather fluctuations over a relatively short distance. Just a short drive can take you from sunny to snowy unexpectedly. Always be sure to check the weather daily, or before you drive so you can be appropriately prepared.