You can take a road trip in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku in Japan with a discounted toll service.
▲Shikoku Karst (Tengu Kogen) in Shikoku (Kochi and Ehime Prefecture)
Cherry blossoms in spring, the sea in summer, the fall colors in autumn, and snow in winter….
Japan has beautiful scenery, and you can cherish each place as it changes its expression from season to season.
If you would like to see various photogenic spots and ease your body and mind during your travels in Japan, then visiting San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku area by car will be the best way!
But maybe you are concerned about the expressways tolls?
Well, don’t worry.
Let’s use a service called the “San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass (SEP),” provided by “NEXCO WEST,” which is the company that has jurisdiction over expressways in western Japan.
SEP is a flat-rate expressway toll service good for 3 to 10 days!
With this in mind, you can feel free to plan a road trip in the San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku areas, right?
What is the San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass(SEP)?
“SEP” is an affordable service limited to foreign tourists, allowing you to use the expressways in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku area in western Japan with a flat-rate toll.
The application for this service is very easy and simple.
You rent your car at one of the rent-a-car companies indicated by SEP, and at the same time, apply to use the SEP service either online or at the counter.
Ryo, a photographer-writer from Taiwan, walks you through making reservations for “SEP.”
1. Make a reservation for a rent-a-car on the website.
▲Top page of Times CARRENTAL
After visiting the special website for “SEP,” make a car reservation on the rent-a-car company’s website.
This time, Ryo makes her reservation at “Times Car RENTAL” with a branch at Okayama Airport, which has the flights to and from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
2. Make a reservation for the “San’in-S-S Expressway Pass”
When you make the reservation for a car, don’t forget to make a reservation for an【ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) Device】!
This is because you need use an “ETC card” for the SEP service.
Please make a reservation for an ETC card, and then select any of the recommended rent-a-car companies.
After you reserve the car and ETC Device, you just wait for your flight to Japan!
▲Please select the “ETC Device” option!
▲Don’t forget to put ticks for “ETC card” and “San’in-S-S Expressway Pass”!
3. Pick up the car you reserved.
Arrival at Okayama Airport in Japan!
From now on, Ryo is your guide.
Let’s go to the rent-a-car counter in the airport after our arrival.
Go to the rent-a-car shop, where they will verify your identification.
There is a pick-up service which will take you to the shop from the airport. Feel relieved.
Fill in the application form for SEP, and answer all the questions, including the dates you plan to use the SEP service.
You can indicate the date on which you will start using the service.
So, if you don’t plan to use the expressway on Day 1, it is OK.
It is best for you to plan out your expressway use for the duration of your trip.
4. Get the special ETC card for SEP! This is a must!
You have to use an ETC card when you use expressways and SEP service at the same time.
It is a requirement that you have a special ETC card for SEP.
And of course, you have to put this card in the ETC device before you enter an expressway.
5. Let’s go for a drive!
After doing all the preparation, let’s go for a drive!
Enter the expressway through the “ETC lane.”
After that, fully enjoy your drive and your trip, and refer to these articles.
*Please note that there are some tolls which SEP doesn’t cover, such as the fare of the toll bridges between Honshu Island and Shikoku. And some parts of the expressway in the SEP area are not covered by SEP service, so please check which areas SEP covers.
One of fascinating things about using expressways in Japan is discovering local foods at the Service Areas or Parking Areas on your way.
Please stop by SA and PA and don’t miss the food and sweets that you can only get there!
▲“Kibi SA (down)” in Okayama
▲Gelato made with Jersey milk in Okayama at “Daigozakura” tastes so good!
6. Returning the car and confirmation of the tolls
After you finish your road trip, return your car.
The last important things to do are the checking and payment of the tolls.
As mentioned above, SEP doesn’t cover all the expressways in western Japan.
However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use the uncovered expressways.
Only that you will have to pay for any extra tolls at the counter of the rent-a-car shop.
This is how you can enjoy a road trip in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku by using the “SEP” service.
Isn’t it so easy, because you just make a reservation at the same time you reserve a car?
So why don’t you try this service?
Even if you rent a car without a reservation beforehand, you can use “SEP,” so don’t forget about this service!
*However, you might not be able to rent a car without a reservation because of limited availability during peak travel times. Therefore we recommend making a reservation in advance.
Now, have fun driving during your trip!
> A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima
> The must-have item is your camera! The western drive route includes photogenic spots in Kagawa, Kochi, Ehime, and Hiroshima
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi
Introduced by Ryo, a photographer-writer for Setouchi Finder
San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass（SEP）
Introduction to the San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass（SEP）
・ NEXCOWEST sells SEP, enabling you to use expressways in San’in/Setouchi/Shikoku as much as you like for a fixed price.
Some sections of the expressway are excluded.
・ By using the ETC card provided by designated rental car companies, you can use the expressway without stopping at toll booths!
・ This pass is limited to rental cars for foreigners. Plans start from 6,100 yen for 3 days, with deals for longer periods of use.
Choose your preferred plan from options ranging from 3 daysto a maximum of 10 days.
・ Make your reservations for the SEP according to your plans and rental car at a rental car booking location.
・ Eligible Individuals
・ Those with non-Japanese passports and Japanese citizens with permanent residence permits in a foreign country.
・ Must possess a driver’s license that can be used in Japan.
・ Usage Start Date
・ March 25th (Sat.), 2017
Sales Price (Does not include the fees for the rental car)
* Under the SEP scheme, “1 day” means 0:00-23:59.
For example if you were to use the service from 13:00 on April 1 to 13:00 on April 4, this would count as three days (72 hours) use for the car rental, but “4 days” use for the SEP.
【Rental Car Booking Locations and Inquiries】
TOYOTA RENT a Car
Times Car RENTAL
Budget Rent a Car
NISSAN Rent a Car
Except Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays
JR Rent-A-Car (West)
Except Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays
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