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  • Writer's pictureDavid Cheung

Getting Around Japan

Japan is a country known for its efficient and extensive public transportation system, which makes it easy for tourists to explore the country's many sights and attractions. Whether you're traveling by train, subway, or bus, there are a variety of options available to help you get around Japan quickly and easily.


One of the most popular ways to get around Japan is by train. The country has an extensive network of train lines, including both local and high-speed bullet trains (known as shinkansen). Japan Railways (JR) is the country's largest railway operator, and its lines cover most major cities and tourist destinations.

If you plan on traveling extensively by train, it's a good idea to purchase a Japan Rail Pass, which allows for unlimited travel on most JR lines for a set period of time. This can be a cost-effective option for tourists, as individual train tickets in Japan can be quite expensive.


Many of Japan's major cities also have extensive subway systems, which can be a convenient way to navigate around urban areas. Tokyo, for example, has 13 subway lines operated by two different companies, while Kyoto has two subway lines.

Subway tickets can be purchased at automated vending machines at each station, and fares are based on the distance travelled. Most stations also have English language signage and announcements, making it easy for non-Japanese speakers to navigate the system.


Buses are another option for getting around Japan, particularly for travel to more remote or rural areas. Most cities and towns have local bus services, and there are also long-distance highway buses that connect major cities.

Like trains and subways, bus fares are typically based on the distance traveled. Some bus operators also offer discounted fares for travelers who purchase round-trip tickets or multiple tickets in advance.


Taxis are widely available in Japan, and can be a convenient option for short trips or for travellers who prefer the comfort and privacy of a private vehicle. Taxis are metered, and fares can be quite expensive, particularly in larger cities like Tokyo.

It's also worth noting that taxis in Japan are generally quite small, so larger groups may need to take multiple taxis or consider other transportation options.

Tips for Getting Around Japan

Purchase a transportation card: Many of Japan's major cities offer reloadable transportation cards, which can be used on trains, subways, and buses. These cards offer convenience and can save you money compared to purchasing individual tickets.

Plan your route in advance: Japan's transportation system can be complex, so it's a good idea to plan your route in advance using a map or transportation app. This can help you avoid getting lost or taking the wrong train or bus.

Be aware of rush hour: Japan's trains and subways can get extremely crowded during rush hour (typically in the mornings and evenings on weekdays). If possible, try to avoid traveling during these times, or be prepared for crowded trains and longer wait times.

Follow local customs: In Japan, it's customary to be quiet and respectful while on trains and subways. Loud talking or using your phone on the train is generally considered impolite, and you should also avoid eating or drinking on public transportation.

Use luggage forwarding services: Japan's transportation system can be challenging if you're traveling with a lot of luggage. However, many hotels and tourist offices offer luggage forwarding services, which allow you to send your bags ahead to your next destination for a fee. This can be a convenient option if you're traveling between cities or staying in multiple hotels.

Overall, Japan's public transportation system is one of the best in the world, offering convenience, efficiency, and affordability for tourists. Whether you're exploring the busy streets of Tokyo or the tranquil countryside of Kyoto, there are a variety of transportation options


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