Japan boasts one of the most
advanced rail systems in the world, but also one of the most
expensive. Depending on the duration of your stay it may pay
to get a Japan Rail Pass, which allows foreigners of any age
(not just students) unlimited passage on Japan Rail trains;
consult your travel agent for details on pricing and other
A unique experience is a ride
on the shinkansen, or bullet train. Shinkansen lines
run nearly the entire length of Japan's main island of Honshu,
are quick and reliable, and often cheaper and more convenient
that flying domestically. Due to its popularity, seats often
fill up quickly so it is best to book them in advance.
Reserved seats are only 500 yen (about $4.50) more each (even
with the pass) but are well worth the extra expense,
especially along the crowded Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka corridor.
Visitors who do not speak Japanese will be encouraged to know
that train stops and other announcements are made in English.
For shorter trips, travelers
can rely on the local train system. While the tickets are much
cheaper than bullet trains (or also free with the pass), train
stops and other announcements are made in Japanese only. Signs
for train stops are written in both Japanese characters and
roman letters. Even so, it may be a good idea to write down
the Japanese characters of your destination before beginning
the trip or ask a Japanese acquaintance to write your
destination on a card for you.
In the cities, buses, local
trains and sometimes subways are available. Prices for each
type of transportation vary depending on the distance,
starting at 150-200 yen; a one-day pass may be available in
larger cities. Taxis are also a viable, yet expensive, option.
It costs about 690 yen ($6.00) just to get in. Taxis in Japan
are probably the cleanest you will find anywhere in the world,
so enjoy the ride.
Japan's three main domestic
carriers are Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airlines
(ANA) and Japan Air System (JAS) and between
them they cover all the major routes. The domestic airports
for Tokyo and Osaka are Hanada and Itami
respectively, both nearer the city centers than the
Another means of traveling that is
often cheaper than taking trains are overnight
buses. There is an extensive network of these buses in
Japan and the fares are cheaper than trains. For example,
whereas a Tokyo - Osaka Shinkansen ticket is ~14,000 yen each
Several steamship companies operate regular
services between major Japanese ports and harbor cities of
Russia, Korea and China.
Ferries and high-speed vessels operating to and from Fukuoka
and Shimonoseki provide easy access to Korea.
Japan-Korea Ship Route
||Travel Time (approx.)
hours 30 minutes
hours 20 minutes
||Everyday (3-4 returns)
The cheapest of all options is the
"Seishun-jyuuhachi-kippu" ("18 year old youth's
ticket"). Despite the name, this ticket can be used by
anyone regardless of age.
Travel Related Links
For more details on the different
train passes, overnight buses, and other types of transit
available visit the Japan
National Tourist Organization's Intra-City Transportation
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