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Japan Travel

Japan flag. Travel within Japan

Japan Travel

Air | Rail | Bus | Ferry | Taxi | Car | Pre-Paid Cards (Suica Pasmo Icoca Manaca)


Airport sign at Kansai International airport.

Japan's two main domestic carriers are Japan Airlines (JAL) - which merged with and Japan Air System (JAS) in 2002 - and All Nippon Airlines (ANA).
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 international airports.
Check with JAL and ANA for discount deals on domestic fares if you purchase a return flight to Japan with them.

Some basic one-way fares as of 2002.
Tokyo-Osaka 18,500 yen.
Tokyo-Sapporo 28,000 yen.
Tokyo-Oita 30,000 yen.
Osaka-Oita 16,000 yen.
Osaka-Sapporo 35,000 yen.


Tel: (0120) 25 5971 (Toll Free)


Tel: (0120) 029 222 (Toll Free)

Japan By Rail

Japan Rail PassShinkansen Bullet Train

Not able to be purchased inside of Japan, so must be purchased overseas and be reserved within 3 months of intended use.

  • Valid for all JR Group local & regional trains except the 'Nozomi' (the fastest shinkansen bullet train).
  • JR run local and highway bus services
  • Miyajima to Miyajimaguchi ferry (Hiroshima Prefecture)
  • To qualify for this, before coming to Japan, you must show you will be a temporary visitor to Japan. Show passport.
    Before travelling, buy an exchange order at a JR licensed travel agent and exchange this for your pass at any JR exchange office in Japan, including at Narita International Airport.

    Prices in Japanese yen.

    The pass also entitles the bearer to a 10% discount on JR Group hotels.

    Purchase a Japan Rail Pass

    Period Green Car [1st class] Adult [Ordinary] Green Car [Child] Child [6-11 Ordinary]
    7 day 37,800 28,300 18,900 14,150
    14 day 61,200 45,100 30,600 22,550
    21 day 79,600 57,700 39,800 28,850

    JR East Area Pass

    The JR East Area Pass gives you unlimited use of the following services throughout Eastern Japan (Tokyo and areas to the North and East).

  • Nagano, Tohoku, Joetsu, Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen (bullet train) services
  • Local and regional JR trains
  • Prices in Japanese yen.

    Period Green Car [1st class] Adult [25+] Youth [12-25] Child [6-11]
    5 day 28,000 20,000 16,000 10,000
    10 day 44,800 32,000 25,000 16,000

    Another option is the Flexible 4-Day Pass which entitles you to unlimited travel on any four consecutive or non-consecutive days within a month of the date the pass was issued.

    Period Green Car [1st class] Adult [25+] Youth [12-25] Child [6-11]
    4 day flex 28,000 20,000 16,000 10,000

    JR West Sanyo Area Pass

    The JR West Sanyo Area Pass gives you unlimited use of the following services throughout the Sanyo region (Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata area).

  • All Shinkansen services (including Nozomi trains)
  • All local and regional JR trains
  • All JR run local and highway bus services
  • Miyajima to Miyajimaguchi ferry (Hiroshima Prefecture)
  • Local and regional JR trains
  • Prices in Japanese Yen.

    Period Adult Child [6-11]
    4 day 20,000 10,000
    8 day 30,000 15,000

    Youth 18 Tickets

    (Seishun Juhachi Kippu) and Night Trains information Click Here

    Some Japan Rail Pass Reservation Offices


    USIT CAMPUS (LONDON) TEL 020-7730-7285
    FAX 020-7730-5739

    Kintetsu International Express (Europe) B.V. (FRANKFURT) TEL (069) 1381-0510
    FAX (069) 1381-0570

    Intia-Keskus Ltd. (HELSINKI) TEL 096803180
    FAX 09611970

    Kintetsu International Express (SPAIN) S.A. Madrid TEL (91) 559-5112
    FAX (91) 559-8713

    Japan rail pass.Asia

    Seoul Travel SVC (SEOUL) TEL 822-755-9696
    FAX 822-753-9076

    NTA Travel (HONG KONG) Co., Ltd. TEL 852-2721-1348
    FAX 852-2724-3271

    Diners World (SINGAPORE) TEL 65-292-5522
    FAX 65-294-1863

    JTC Thailand (BANGKOK) TEL 66-2237-7498
    FAX 66-2237-2291

    Sen Travel (TAIPEI) TEL 8862-2100-1986
    FAX 8862-2100-1820

    North America

    JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (VANCOUVER) TEL 604-688-0315
    FAX 604-688-9031

    JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (TORONTO) TEL 416-367-5824
    FAX 416-367-4859

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (TORRANCE) TEL 310-618-0961
    FAX 310-618-1294

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO) TEL 415-986-4764
    FAX 415-986-3989

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW YORK) TEL 212-698-4919
    FAX 212-586-9686

    JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW JERSEY) TEL 201-288-5007
    FAX 201-288-5048

    Middle East

    Bahrain International Travel (BAHRAIN) TEL 253315

    Al-Rashed International Travel Co. (KUWAIT) TEL 2461538

    Saudi Tourist & Travel Bureau (DHARAN) TEL (3) 8641792

    Saudi Tourist and Travel Bureau (JEDDAH) TEL (2) 6674405

    U.A.E. Al Futtaim Travel and Tourism (DUBAI) TEL (4) 228-5470

    U.A.E. Albadie Travel Agency (ABU DHABI) TEL (2) 632-3142

    Youth 18 Tickets (Seishun Juhachi Kippu) and Night Trains information:
    Seishun Juhachi Kippu
    Night Trains


    Long-distance Highway buses are a possibility if you don't have a Japan Rail Pass and there are routes between most major cities with the terminus usually the main rail station. There are also night services which leave around 10 or 11pm.

    Typical one-way fares for JR buses:
    Tokyo-Osaka (Namba) 8,610 Yen.
    Tokyo-Kobe 8,690 Yen.
    Tokyo-Shimonoseki (for boat to Korea) 13,950 Yen.

    City buses usually charge a flat-fare around 200 Yen but routes and times can be difficult to decipher and they stop running fairly early in the evening.

    Read more about traveling on buses in Japan


    Osaka-Beppu Sunflower ferry in port.

    Traveling by ferry in Japan, while slow, can be pleasant and relaxing, alternative to other means of transport. The main routes of practical use to visitors would be from Osaka/Kobe (on Honshu) to Beppu/Oita (on Kyushu), Niigata on the Japan Sea coast to Otaru/Sapporo (Hokkaido), Sendai to Tomokomai in southern Hokkaido and the ferry route connecting Japan with Korea.
    The cheapest accommodation is in often cramped, communal, large tatami-mat rooms. The Hokkaido routes usually have women-only sections.
    There is also a range of more expensive private cabins, and even suites, on board. Bicycles, motorbikes and cars also travel for an extra fee.

    Ferry reservations are necessary at weekends and on public holidays.
    There is a good canteen style self-service restaurant, a shop and a variety of vending machines on all boats, but the prices are marked up considerably, so those on a tight budget might consider buying food and drinks outside before boarding.
    Entertainment consists of TV, the views from the deck, computer games and a free Japanese bath.

    Read more about using the ferries here.

    Ferry Routes

    Osaka - Kobe Matsuyama Beppu (for Oita)
    18:50 6.20
    21:00 22:25 10:00
    Beppu - Matsuyama Kobe Osaka
    17:00 5:30 08:40
    19:00 06:20

    Economy fare: 7,030 Yen
    Reservations: 06 6572 5181/06 6613 1571

    Niigata - Otaru    
    10:30 next day 04.10
    Otaru - Niigata    
    10:30 next day 05:30

    Economy fare: 5,250 Yen
    Reservations: 06 6345 2921 (Osaka HQ)/025 273 2171 (Niigata)/0134 22 6191 (Otaru).

    Nagoyai - Sendai
    20:00 next day 17:45
    Sendai - Nagoya
    12:20 next day 09:20

    Taiheiyo Ferry
    Reservations: Nagoya 052 398 1023; Sendai 022 259 021
    Boats are every other day.

    Sendai - Tomakomai (70 mins by train to Sapporo)
    20:00 next day 10:45
    Tomakomai - Sendai
    19:00 next day 09:20
    Maizuru - Otaru (for Sapporo)
    23.30 2 nights later 04.00
    Otaru - Maizuru (about 2 hours by train from Osaka)
    10.00next day 17.00

    All ferry services are daily except Niigata-Otaru (No Monday service).

    Economy fare: 9,020 Yen
    Reservations: 022 263 9877 (Sendai)/011 281 3311 (Sapporo).

    For further details on other routes and services contact:
    Japan Long Course Ferry Service Association in Tokyo:
    03 3501 0889

    Read more about using the ferries here.


    Taxi cab in Japan.

    Taxis are everywhere in Japan and can be flagged down from anywhere. However, they are not cheap. Fares vary little throughout the country, though Tokyo is the most expensive. Flag fall is 710 yen for the first 2km in Tokyo. After that it is 90 yen for every 288m. There is a 20% surcharge between the hours of 10pm and 5am.
    Unless there are more than two passengers, use only the back doors. Do not attempt to open the doors yourself. Back doors are opened and closed automatically. Tipping is not expected. Most drivers do not speak English, so you should carry the name and address of your hotel or other destination.
    Taxi drivers, especially in Tokyo, do not know where everything is. If at all possible, acquire a map to your destination beforehand. Insist on showing it to the driver if s/he shows any uncertainly. Don't allow any guessing. Remember that a wild goose chase is in the driver's pecuniary interest!

    Read more on Japan taxis


    Car hire is definitely an option to consider if you are planning to spend a lot of time exploring the countryside, but not really worth it in the big cities. An international license is required and members of an automobile association qualify for reciprocal rights with the Japan Automobile Association (JAF).
    Japan drives on the left. Gas is around 100 yen per liter.
    Typical prices of the cheapest 1000cc models from the major agencies (not including insurance - add an extra 1,300 yen plus 5% tax) is around 6,000 yen a day (and approx. 5,000 yen plus tax for each additional day).

    Toyota/Hertz Rent A Car (0070 8000 10000/ 0120 4898 82 English Toll Free).

    Nissan (0120 00 4123 Toll Free)

    Avis/Japaren (0120 812439 Toll Free)

    Orix (0120 00 0543 Toll Free)

    Subway/Train/Bus Pre-Paid Cards

    To save you time and the hassle of trying to work out the cost of fares, fumbling with unfamiliar coins and lining up at crowded ticket vending machines, travelers are strongly advised to buy a pre-paid pass for trains and subways in major Japanese cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. From 23 March 2013 each region's transport IC card (for use on trains, buses, taxis, subways and even in convenience stores and certain shops) will became fully interchangeable. Therefore Pasmo and Suica IC cards in Tokyo, Manaca in Nagoya, Kitaca in Hokkaido, Nimoca in Oita Prefecture, Toica (for JR Lines in the Chubu area around Nagoya), Icoca (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe), Hayakaken (Fukuoka) and Sugoca (Fukuoka Prefecture) can be used anywhere throughout Japan.


    Suica rechargeable smart card.

    The Suica is an acronym for "Super Urban Intelligent Card", a rechargeable smart card that can be used on most JR lines nationwide and on all subway lines and buses in the Tokyo metropolitan region. It is issued in East Japan (i.e. the Kanto region) but is interoperable with the Icoca card (see below) issued in West Japan (the Kansai region).

    Suica is available in three forms:
    -the basic Suica, able to be used by multiple users
    -the registered Suica, able to be used only by the person it is registered to - with the ensuing benefit of the remaining balance being refundable if lost.
    -the commuter pass Suica, able to take advantage of cheaper regular discounted monthly fares, but able to be used to travel freely as well.

    Suica is also an electronic money card and can be used to pay for goods in a growing number of stores.


    The Pasmo card, Greater Tokyo's universal transport card.

    A rechargeable smart card able to be used on all train and bus transport in the Tokyo metropolitan region. It superseded the subway-only Passnet card in March 2007.

    The varieties of Pasmo card are basically the same as the Suica card (see above), but with one extra feature: it is possible to subscribe to an automatic top-up service whereby the card is topped up by 3,000 yen from the user's credit card whenever the charge remaining drops below 2,000 yen.

    For the traveler to Japan, unless you are staying solely in Tokyo, the Suica card, able to be used nationwide as well as throughout Tokyo, is the better option. Also, buying a Suica card at Narita airport gets you a cheaper ride on the Narita Express.

    Like Suica, Pasmo is also able to be used as electronic money. Usable in stores that accept Suica.

    (NB. JR Rail passes are valid on the Tokyo Yamanote loop line, but not on any subway lines).

    Osaka (Kansai)

    Icoca rechargeable smart card.


    The Icoca card is an IC smart card used on the JR West network in western Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, etc.). It is interoperable with the Suica card (see above) and can therefore be used on the JR East system in Tokyo and in Sendai. Back in Kansai, the card is also good on all private railways - Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu, etc. - as well as the Osaka subway system.

    The literal meaning of Icoca is "IC Operating CArd," but in Japanese iko-ka means "Shall we go?" When you enter or exit a station, you just pass the card close to the reader; it is not necessary to touch it.

    The Icoca card can be purchased at all JR stations where the card is in use. A card costs 2,000 yen and requires a refundable 500 yen deposit. You can purchase a commuter pass for a predetermined amount of time, or pay as you go (i.e., add, say, 10,000 yen to the card and then use it until that amount is gone-- and then recharge). Many stations now have small, convenient recharging machines.

    In addition to a children's Icoca (for children in elementary school), there is also a Smart Icoca, which allows you to charge travel, etc., to a credit card.

    Icoca is also an electronic money card and can be used to pay for goods in many convenience stores and from vending machines.

    Multiple Ride Card (Osaka)

    Pay 3,000 yen for a pre-paid card, which allows you 3,300 yen's worth of journeys on Osaka's subways, buses and NewTram lines. If in doubt, ask at the ticket wicket for help in purchasing your travel card.

    Tokyo | Kyoto | Osaka | Fukuoka | Hakone | Himeji | Hiroshima | Kamakura | Kobe | Nagasaki | Nagoya | Nara | Niigata | Nikko | Oita & Beppu | Okinawa | Saitama | Sakurajima | Sapporo | Sendai | Shizuoka | Shodoshima | Tsukuba | Yanagawa | Yokohama

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