#1 9-19-2017 12:37 PM

Euless, Texas
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Japan Transportation

Hello all,

I'm planning a second trip to japan next month. Once again, I have no clue what I'm going to do. I do know however, that this time I want to go to the different parts of the country now that it'll be a lot easier for me to do so. I know all of the different ways to get around such as the JR Pass, domestic flights, night trains and rental cars.

What I'm not sure is which I should use. Price is somewhat a factor. For example, I can get the 14 day JR pass which is about $500 but this time around, I want to save time. I wouldn't be opposed to driving though since it's such a low cost and the scenery is beautiful, despite the fact it could take longer. I was thinking of mixing it up and doing a bit of everything.

Would some of you mind sharing some of your different ways you traveled throughout Japan and which one you prefer?

Thank you.


#2 9-19-2017 6:29 PM

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Re: Japan Transportation

I've only travelled by train.  You don't have to get a rail pass. At least not for your full time there.  There's a whole range of passes available and unlike until recently, you can usually buy in Japan.  So you can decide when you get there.  See section on Japan on www.seat61.com.

I prefer travelling by train always and the Japanese train system is arguably the best in the world.

You could try buses. I've never used for long distances but certainly are an option. 

As is driving.  I met some tourists there who rented car and were very happy with experience.

Aa you know though, for some reason the Japanese drive on the left!

I think your idea of mixing it up is great.


#3 9-19-2017 7:00 PM

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Re: Japan Transportation

Before deciding if you get JR pass or not, if yes how many days, I recommend you to list the places where you want to visit first.
I'm sure JR pass is a good deal if you travel long distance a lot within certain period, but it may not pay off depending on your itinerary. And you don't have to buy the pass that covers entire duration of your stay. If it covers the period you make long distance travel is just fine.

I don't recommend you to stick to cars as tolls are expensive. Take public transportation for long distance travels and drive locally in rural areas. You won't see any views from highways as it's surrounded by high walls anyway.

Long distance buses are great ways to save time and cost. When I didn't have a baby, I traveled a lot on night buses. You can travel while you're asleep and you can make full use of daytime and you can also save cost for accommodation as well. Comfortableness depends on the bus grade.
A company called Willer Express has various kinds of seats. They have some buses which has some seats like business class seats on long haul flights. I have never tried one but would like to try sometime in the future.
I (163cm tall) have no issues with taking ordinary 3-4 seats in row type of buses but my husband (186cm tall) hates it. If you can sleep on economy class seats without any problems, it may be just fine for you to take ordinary night buses.

We have some Low Cost Careers such as Peach Aviation, Vanilla air, Jetstar Japan, AirAsia Japan, Solaseed etc but such careers leave/arrive in the airports which are far out of the cities such as Narita airport, Ibaraki airport etc. I would highly recommend you if it's logical to take including the time to get to airport itself.
Full Service airlines such as JAL or ANA has special deals for foreign visitors so I would rather recommend you to take these if you choose to fly.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to post here. I'd be happy to help.


#4 9-19-2017 7:06 PM

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Re: Japan Transportation

And if you decide to drive here, you must obtain International Drivers License in your own country.
If your drivers license is issued in United States, you can apply one.

And here's the pamphlet of driving policies in Japan.
https://www.npa.go.jp/policies/applicat … nglish.pdf


#5 9-19-2017 11:19 PM

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Re: Japan Transportation

On our last visit in Japan we traveled by train. I have no experience with buses, I find Japanese trains are comfortable and on time

Our first visit to Japan we rent a car we didn't drive in Tokyo, pick up the car on our last day. Yes having a vehicle it'll bring you to remote places which public transport can't do.


#6 9-19-2017 11:49 PM

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Re: Japan Transportation

There are a lot of different local area train passes which can be excellent value, in the  Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto area) for instance the Surroto pass: http://www.surutto.com/sp/ticket/kansai … glish.html
Long distance trains are only expensive on Shinkansen trains.
Willer bus and other bus lines are also a reasonable option.
By car finding a parking place will be a problem.

Last edited by ulis (9-19-2017 11:51 PM)


#7 9-20-2017 3:21 AM

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Re: Japan Transportation

Like Francis, I prefer to travel on trains whenever possible. Unless of course I am part of a group of up to 4 people, then a rental car may make sense economically. However, unless you drive fairly well on the left side of the road, that will be a bit of a challenge for the driver to do sightseeing at the same time. Japan is pretty much accessible if one likes to walk short distances from the train station. I would walk up to an hour or more just to get to a destination, provided it doesn't rain or snow. There is a different vibe that one experiences on the street and not just inside the confines of an airconditioned vehicle.

As Nobuko said, check out your destinations first and see which passes can apply. For instance, the JR Tokyo Wide pass (formerly know as Kanto Area wide pass) is a good deal for 3 days if you base yourself in the Tokyo area. You can use this pass to ride the JR East Shinkansen (most lines except a couple) to Utsonomiya (for Nikko), Karuizawa, even during winter to Gala Yuzawa plus Kawaguchiko (for Mt Fuji), to Kamakura, and so on. The cost of a couple of shinkansen rides alone is easily recouped by the Tokyo Wide Pass (10,000 yen), so it is a really good deal. Osaka, Kyoto and Nara have similar passes offered by JR.

More info on the Tokyo Wide Pass here https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/tokyowidepass/

The JR Rail pass 7 days/14 days/21 days is worth if traveling cross country over the said trip periods. Japan is a beautiful country, and there is so much to explore in many ways and forms.


#8 9-20-2017 4:09 AM

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Re: Japan Transportation

you can always get advice on train fares from www.hyperdia.com
We are actually flying to Japan tomorrow and trying to figure out which train passes is very difficult. One should have a one week training course on how to figure it out.


#9 9-20-2017 4:52 AM

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Re: Japan Transportation

I'm heading to Japan in 3 weeks and bought a JR Pass, after adding up all the train trips I anticipate from the cost data on hyperdia.

A discussion about car rentals on another site concluded that it's breakeven with 3 passengers.  Other than the rental costs, you have to add highway tolls and fuel, plus one-way drop-off charges if needed.

Like Lotus' husband, I wouldn't care to spend a long time in a bus when the train goes 3x faster and is more comfortable.


#10 9-20-2017 2:37 PM

Euless, Texas
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Re: Japan Transportation

Thanks for all of your answers guys. I am planning to stay in Japan for two weeks again, even though I would like to stay for a month. I wanted to stay a month because I wanted to go to at least two or three places from each region. I could still probably do that in two weeks but it would feel very rushed. So more realistically, I will choose two or three regions and visit different places in those regions. I'm definitely going to Hokkaido, Chiba and maybe Tohoku along with Hiroshima.

After hearing you guys answers, I think I've finally come up to a conclusion. Airplanes are out since even though they have discounts, you still have to kind of book them in advance and right now my trip is random. Not to mention the fact that even though they save time, I'll be missing the scenery.

I can get my International Driver's Permit from AAA around the corner and it's only $20. I've never driven on the left hand side before so that would be interesting. I will probably do as you guys suggested and drive locally, like when something is one hour away and has nice scenery.

As for night buses, that would definitely be a good combo for transport and accommodations. i will definitely have to do more research on that.

As for the JR Pass, since at first I was going to go to each region, I thought it was necessary to buy the National Pass. However realistically, I will have to find the best regional pass and align it with my destinations.

I'm still going through my destinations and deciding and I will ask more questions a little later. For now, thank you everybody.

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