You wondered how to get around in Japan? With such an expansive public transport system, getting around Japan couldn’t be easier. With bullet trains and fantastic local bus systems, Japan is the perfect destination for those who are limited for time and wish to see as much as possible. There are options for all budgets and group sizes so your trip to Japan will be hassle free.
Bus in Japan
Japan has a fantastic local bus system particularly in cities such as Kyoto. The bus system in Kyoto enables visitors to venture further afield to reach temples and parks that would otherwise be difficult to access. Kyoto and Tokyo offer a slightly different payment system whereby the ticket price is one flat fare and customers pay as they enter. In most other areas, passengers collect a ticket from a machine at the back of the bus and wait for their stop.
The electronic screen displays the price of each destination and when you choose to get off the bus, that is the price you will pay. Generally buses are easy to use and run very frequently, particularly in larger cities. The best way to use the bus is to take the Japanese name of the destination in written Japanese so that you can show the driver, as not all buses display English names.
A cheaper alternative to using long distance trains is the highway buses. Highway buses usually run through the night which means that passengers also save money on a night’s accommodation. The highway buses are one of the slowest forms of travel and are not the best option for those on a strict time limit. There is also the Japan Bus Pass for foreign visitors which offers unlimited travel for up to seven days on Willer Express buses.
Trains in Japan
Trains in Japan are arguably the quickest and most convenient ways to get around. Japan is home to an efficient rail network that connects all four islands of Japan. The country is also home to a number of bullet trains (also known as Shinkansen), which connect Tokyo to Kyoto in under three hours.
Though train travel in Japan can be costly, Japan Rail has a rail pass for all foreign tourists. This rail pass provides unlimited train travel for up to 21 consecutive days on all trains operated by Japan Rail. JR trains account for around 70 percent of Japan’s rail network, so visitors will find it easy to find these trains. A 21 day standard travel pass costs 59,350 yen (ca. 540 USD). This may seem expensive but it can save visitors lots of money when taking return journeys from cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. The pass can also be used on JR trains in Tokyo, which run through most of the city.
Driving in Japan
For more rural destinations, renting a car can be the easiest option to get close to the natural scenery that adorns this magnificent country. Those who wish to rent a car require an International Driving Permit which can be obtained from your country of residence.
Alternatively, taxis operate throughout Japan and are a good option for groups. Taxis can be expensive particularly in cities such as Tokyo, however, they offer a quicker option in more remote locations.