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Japan Information

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Transportation    Arts and Crafts    Hot Springs

Buses     Planes     Rental Cars     Ships     Subways     Taxis     Trains



Bus services are operated by numerous bus companies, not only in big cities but also in regional towns. The bus fare varies depending on the bus company but it is usually around 200 yen for an inner-city ride. Long distance buses which link cities are also operated frequently both during the day and at night. This is a more economical way to get about than by plane or by train if you are not pressed for time.

Long Distance Buses
JR operates long-distance buses between Tokyo and other major cities. Though travel takes longer, sometimes due to heavy traffic, fares are cheaper than Shinkansen train fares. Other bus companies provide bus travel between major cities as well. Benefits of Night Buses include money saving on a night's accommodation, good riding comfort and economical travel even in daytime on routes good for sightseeing. Japanese public transport, stores and restaurants are legally forbidden to accept foreign currencies. You do need small amounts of yen currency for immediate needs. If you have foreign bank notes other than U.S. dollars, it is wise to convert some of them in to yen while at the airport. Traveler's Checks can be cashed quickly at banks, but few stores or restaurants accept them. Unused yen (bank notes only; no coins) can be reconverted into foreign currencies at the airport with no limitation, provided the exchange center has sufficient funds for re-conversion.

City Buses
All major cities have extensive intra-city bus routes. For example, in Kyoto, buses are convenient, easy to use, and have English announcements. Your bus ticket is numbered to indicate the fare zone where you boarded. An illustrated sign at the front of the bus shows a changing fare schedule. If your ticket shows the number 3, for example, the fare you pay is indicated under column 3 on the sign. Put the fare in the cash box beside the driver's seat when leaving the bus. In a few instances, a flat fare is charged. The name of the final destination of each bus is written in above the windshield, but also often includes a route number. Have a hotel clerk write down your destination in Japanese so that bus driver or other people waiting for buses can direct you to the right bus.

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International Flights
There is no doubt that the most convenient and quickest way to get to Japan is by airplane. JAL (Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.), ANA (All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.) and JAS (Japan Air System Co., Ltd.) have large well-established networks linking Japan to the major cities of Europe, Asia and U.S.A. Also, leading airline companies of the majority of countries operate airline services destined for major cities in Japan.

Flight time between Tokyo and major international cities :
Asia and Oceania

Tokyo - Seoul 2 hours 30 minutes
Tokyo - Beijing 4 hours
Tokyo - Hong Kong 5 hours
Tokyo - Bangkok 7 hours
Tokyo - Sydney 9 hours 30 minutes

North America

Tokyo - Vancouver 8 hours 30 minutes
Tokyo - Los Angeles 9 hours 30 minutes
Tokyo - New York 12 hours 30 minutes


Tokyo - Moscow 10 hours 
Tokyo - Frankfurt 12 hours
Tokyo - Vienna 12 hours
Tokyo - Rome 12 hours 30 minutes
Tokyo - London 13 hours
Tokyo - Paris 13 hours 

Domestic Flights
Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Air System (JAS) and several other air carriers service extensive route networks throughout Japan. Visitors on a tight schedule can choose to fly to and from points not served by Shinkansen super-express trains.

JAL (Japan Airlines)
ANA (All Nippon Airways)
JAS (Japan Air System)

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Rental Cars

Because of urban traffic congestion, renting a car for intra-city travel is not recommended.
In Japan, cars travel on the left hand side of the road. Know your route in advance, because road signs may not have alphabet lettering. All expressways are toll roads. Traffic regulations are very strict and orderly. Availability of road atlases in English is limited. Car rental services are available in most large and medium-sized cities as well as at airports and major train stations. When you apply to rent a car, you will be asked to produce your international driver license.

If you wish to drive in Japan, you must possess one of the following driving permits.
1.A Japanese Driver's License
2.An International Driver's License (90 member countries) based on the Treaty of Geneva (Convention of 1949)
3.A Driver's License of Switzerland, Germany or France (must inquire about conditions to the institution issuing the driving permit of respective countries)

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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

Route Travel Time Availability
Shimonoseki-Busan (car ferry) 9 hours 30 minutes Everyday (1 return)
Hakata-Busan (ferry) 9 hours 20 minutes 3 days a week
Hakata-Busan (high-speed vessel) 3 hours Everyday (3-4 returns)

Domestic Routes
Japan has an extensive network of ferryboat routes that link its islands. Popular routes connect Tokyo with northern ports in Hokkaido and with points south as far as Okinawa. Routes through the Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku wind among gem-like islands. Elegant cruise ships set sail for coastal excursions from one domestic port to another.

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Subway lines are widely available in all major cities, providing prompt, efficient transportation. Almost all stations have automatic ticket machines from which you can buy your ticket for various destinations. To use the subway lines, first purchase a ticket at a vending machine or ticket window. Your ticket is punched by hand at the wicket or inserted in a punching machine. Please keep the ticket, since it must be returned at your destination.

If there is no fare chart in English, buy the cheapest ticket indicated on the vending machine and pay the difference due at the fare adjustment office at your destination station before you go through the exit wicket. All subway lines display station names in both Japanese and alphabet lettering on platform signboards. The name of the station is in large letters in the center of the sign; names of adjacent stations appear below or to either side.

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Taxis can be very convenient for intra-city transportation. To flag down a taxi, look for a red light in the lower right corner of the windshield as you face it. Any other color means the taxi is reserved or occupied. Passengers enter the back door on the left side, which the driver opens and closes automatically.  If possible, have a map showing your destination, as an address is sometimes not enough, given the complicated street layouts in the big cities. Tipping is not practiced so you only need to pay only the metered fare.

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The railway system in Japan has a high reputation for punctuality and safety. The train fare varies naturally depending on the distance you travel as well as the type of train you wish to catch: Limited Express, Express etc. and the type of reserved seat: Green Car (first class), Sleeper etc., for each of which an extra charge is required. Tickets for short distances are available from ticket machines that are installed at each train station whereas tickets for long distances and reservations are dealt with at ticket offices at major stations.

To use the train, first purchase a ticket at a vending machine or ticket window. Your ticket is punched by hand at the wicket or inserted in a punching machine. Please keep the ticket since it must be returned at your destination. If there is no fare chart in English, buy the cheapest ticket indicated on the vending machine and pay the difference due at the fare adjustment office at your destination station before you go through the exit wicket. Most stations display station names in both Japanese and alphabet lettering on platform signboards. The name of the station is in large letters in the center of the sign; names of adjacent stations appear below or to either side. Most if not all trains stop operating around midnight.

Japan Railways (JR)
Japan's leading railway company, Japan Railways (JR), has an elaborate and well-established system of trains throughout the country. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is the world famous super express train, which fascinates Japanese and foreign visitors alike with its high speed and comfort. It is operated from Tokyo to major cities at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. Long-distance trains provide convenient access to all parts of Japan. To book tickets for long-distance trains follow either one of two different procedures :

  • If you did not validate your Japan Rail Pass at the airport, or did not make seat reservations at the airport JR Travel Service Center, you can go to the JR Travel Center downtown. The one in Tokyo is located at the Yaesu north-exist concourse of Tokyo Station, and is open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. If you have already validated your pass and need only to make seat reservations, go to any Reservation Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi) counter at major JR stations.

  • If you don't have a JR Pass, visit the JR Travel Service Center or one of the major travel agents.


JR Rail Pass
The JR Rail Pass, which is issued by the JR (Japan Railway) Group, offers travellers excellent value for money and convenience. The Rail Pass enables the almost unlimited use of JR trains and its affiliated bus and ferry services within various areas of Japan.

Other Railways
In addition to the JR Group, many other smaller railway companies operate train services on heavily travelled, mainly urban and suburban routes. These lines very often link the center of a city and the residential areas at its outskirts. These rail lines are usually only convenient for commuters, but on occasions may offer speedier, more economical and more convenient routes than JR from nearby urban centers to popular spots such as Nikko, Hakone, Nara, and so forth. Please note that the JR Pass is not honored on these lines.

Railway companies in and around the Tokyo area

Easy access to Railway URL
 Hakone  Odakyu Electric Railway
 Nikko  Tobu Railway
 New Tokyo International (Narita) Airport  Keisei Electric Railway
 Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport  Keihin Electric Express Railway
 Subway networks (Central part of Tokyo)  Teito Rapid Transit Authority

Railway companies in and around the Osaka area

Easy access to Railway URL
 Nara district  Kintetsu Railways/Kinki Nippon 
 Kyoto district  Keihan Railways  --
 Kobe district  Hankyu Electric Railways  --
 Kansai International Airport  Nankai Electric Railways  --

Discount Tickets

Tokyo's public transport is always fast, efficient, frequent, safe, and clean. The main mass transit services are JR trains, Toei (Metropolitan) subway lines, Eidan (Teito Rapid Transit Authority) subway lines, private railways, and buses. Subway lines are color-coded. Most stations have a subway map and fare tables in English. Station names are written using the alphabet. Train transfers are usually easy to make. Trains and subways run from about 5:00 until around 25:00 (1 AM).

Eidan (TRTA) Subway Information:
phone: (03) 3837-7111

One-day Passes
TRTA Subway One-day Open Ticket
For all TRTA subways. 710 yen
Toei One-day Economy Pass
One-day pass for Toei subways, buses, and Toei Arakawa Line trams. 700 yen
Common subway ticket for Eidan & Toei subway lines
One-day pass for the Eidan and Toei subways. 1,000 yen
Tokyo Free Kippu
One-day pass for JR trains within the 23 Wards, for Toei subways, buses, and TRTA subways. 1,580 yen

IO Card
The IO Card can be used as a prepaid card in the automatic ticket taker at any JR East facility. Reinsert the card on the way out and it will automatically deduct the fare from the grand total. If the total is insufficient, insert the card in one of the readjustment machines and pay the difference. Use the automatic ticket takers with the IO Card emblem on them. IO Cards may be purchased from the ticket vending machines. They come in three denominations, 1,000 yen, 3,000 yen and 5,000 yen. You may also buy IO Cards at the Green Windows (midori no madoguchi) at JR Stations that display the IO Card emblem.

Pass Net
The Pass Net is a common card system. You can use one card to take a ride on nearly all private railway lines including subways except the JR line. You can save your time to check a fare or a transfer fare to your destination or to buy a ticket.

Tokunai Free Kippu
One-day pass for JR trains (other than express trains) within the 23 Wards. 730 yen

Yurikamome One-day Ticket

The scenic Yurikamome Line runs between Shimbashi and Odaiba, the new waterfront area. 800 yen

LINK : Tokyo Metro page (

Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka & Kobe, etc.)

This PREPAID CARD ticket enables you to ride on subways, private railways and buses from morning to night, in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, and Wakayama. This economical ticket is available for 2 days or 3 days use. You will receive special services in various facilities, including temples in Kyoto and Nara.  Tel: 06-6442-6667

Nagoya & Vicinity

A 2-day Pass valid on our Expansive Travel Network. This card is convenient when you travel around enchanting areas in Aichi, Gifu and Mie Prefectures.
Adults 3,000 yen
Children 1,500 yen (children aged 6-11 years old )
"The Nice Day Pass" offers:
1.Unlimited travel on any of Meitetsu Group's 6 transportation lines during any two consecutive days.
(Not including reserved seating on limited-express trains, for which an additional surcharge is required.)
2.10% Discount at 13 hotels.
3.10% to 20% Discount at 16 tourist attractions.

Hakone & Vicinity
Odakyu Electric Railway co. ltd. provides discounted coupon tickets to Hakone, Enoshima-Kamakura, Izu, Ito, and Tanzawa-Oyama. These tickets usually allow for unlimited travel on a number of transport means within the area and to and from Tokyo. Not only are the tickets a good value for your money, they also provide you with a freedom and convenience to travel throughout the area all with one ticket. For information on their services please click the link.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.


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