Travel Within Japan
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 Haneda and Itami respectively, both nearer the city centers than the international airports, though Haneda has now become an international airport in its own right with worldwide flight connections.
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. (Cheaper deals are available, and return fares are generally much cheaper.)
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 Pass
Not able to be purchased inside of Japan, so must be purchased overseas and be reserved within 3 months of intended use.
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]|
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).
Prices in Japanese yen.
|Period||Green Car [1st class]||Adult [25+]||Youth[12-25]||Child [6-11]|
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).
Prices in Japanese Yen.
Youth 18 Tickets
Some Japan Rail Pass Reservation Offices
USIT CAMPUS (LONDON) TEL 020-7730-7285
Kintetsu International Express (Europe) B.V. (FRANKFURT) TEL (069) 1381-0510
FAX (069) 1381-0570
Intia-Keskus Ltd. (HELSINKI) TEL 096803180
Kintetsu International Express (SPAIN) S.A. Madrid TEL (91) 559-5112
FAX (91) 559-8713
Seoul Travel SVC (SEOUL) TEL 822-755-9696
NTA Travel (HONG KONG) Co., Ltd. TEL 852-2721-1348
Diners World (SINGAPORE) TEL 65-292-5522
JTC Thailand (BANGKOK) TEL 66-2237-7498
Sen Travel (TAIPEI) TEL 8862-2100-1986
JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (VANCOUVER) TEL 604-688-0315
JTB International (Canada) Ltd. (TORONTO) TEL 416-367-5824
JTB Corp. USA Inc. (TORRANCE) TEL 310-618-0961
JTB Corp. USA Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO) TEL 415-986-4764
JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW YORK) TEL 212-698-4919
JTB Corp. USA Inc. (NEW JERSEY) TEL 201-288-5007
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
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.
Traveling by ferry in Japan, while slow, can be a 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 large communal tatami mat rooms. The Hokkaido routes usually have women-only sections.
There is also a range of more expensive private cabins, and even suites, onboard. 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 sento Japanese bath.
Read more about ferry travel in Japan.
|Osaka||Beppu (for Oita)|
Cheapest economy fare: ¥10,400; peak rates during the Obon holidays in August.
Osaka Nanko Port Cosmo Ferry Terminal
Tel: 06 6613 1571
|Niigata - Otaru|
|10:30 (Daily except Mon)||next day||04.30|
|Otaru - Niigata|
|10:30 (Daily except Mon & Sun)||next day||06:00|
|19.30 (Sunday)||next day||15.30|
Cheapest economy fare: ¥6,480
Reservations: 06 6345 2921 (Osaka HQ)/025 273 2171 (Niigata)/0134 22 6191 (Otaru).
|Nagoya - Sendai|
|Sendai - Nagoya|
Reservations: Nagoya 052 582 8611; Sendai 022 388 8757; Sapporo 011 281 3311
Boats are every other day.
|Sendai - Tomakomai (70 mins by train to Sapporo)|
|Tomakomai - Sendai|
There are train connections to the port of Maizuru in Kyoto Prefecture from Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuchiyama.
|Maizuru - Otaru (for Sapporo)|
|12.30||Approx. 20-21 hours||20.45|
|Otaru - Maizuru (about 2 hours by train from Osaka)|
All ferry services are daily except Niigata-Otaru (No Monday service).
Cheapest economy fare: from ¥9,570 depending on the season
Reservations: 03 5532 1101 (Tokyo)/011 241 7100 (Sapporo)/06 6348 1120 (Osaka).
For further details on other routes and services contact:
Japan Long Course Ferry Service Association in Tokyo:
03 3501 0889
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 about 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 drivers 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. Each region's transport IC card (for use on trains, buses, taxis, subways and even in convenience stores and certain shops) are 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.
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, and many other railway companies' lines. 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.
A fee of 500 yen is payable when first buying a Suica card, but this is refundable when you no longer need it and return it to a station.
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.
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?"
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 New Tram lines. If in doubt, ask at the ticket wicket for help in purchasing your travel card.