Transportation in Japan
|Tip! You can check train (including subway/underground) and airplanes timetables (time schedules) for all Japan on Yahoo Japan Transit or Ekitan, although both sites are only in Japanese. Choose your starting point (出発駅 or 乗車駅) and your destination (到着駅 or 下車駅). Select your date and, either desired departure time (出発時刻指定) or arrival time (到着時刻指定), then search (検索). With Ekitan, you can also choose the quickest time (時間順) or cheapest fare (料金順) way or the less changes (乗り換え回数順).|
From and to Narita Airport
There are three choices to travel between Narita airport and Tokyo:
- Limousine Bus: convenient for tourists as it stops right in front of most major hotels. It takes about 90min and cost 3000yen to central Tokyo.
- Train: the cheapest solution and possibly the quickest, depending on your destination. There are several lines going to Tokyo. You should check which is the nearest station to your destination and work out backward which way is the most convenient for you. For example, if you are going to Shinjuku Station, you can either take the Keisei line from Narita to Nippori, then change to JR Yamanote to Shinjuku; or take to same Keisei line, but change at Hachiman to the Toei Shinjuku line and save 10 minutes and 50 ¥.
Check Yahoo Transit or ekitan below to find the quickest, cheapest or most convenient way for you. Beware that the well-publicized Keisei Skyliner cost about twice more than other trains, and is barely 15 min quicker than the Keisei Limited Express.
- Taxi: the most expensive alternative. Count at least 15.000-20.000yen to central Tokyo.
What is the cheapest way to travel inside Japan ?
Seishun juuhachi kippu
If you have more time than money, the "seishun 18 kippu" is by far the cheapest solution. One ticket cost 2300 and gives unlimited travel inside Japan for one day. It has to be bought by set of five tickets, which can be shared with other people and used in consecutive or unconsecutive days. There are however two major drawbacks - otherwise, everybody would be using this ticket. he first one is that only local or ordinary trains can be used (no shinkansen, no limited-express...), which means it takes nine hours from Tokyo to Kyoto, instead of about three hours by Shinkansen. The second is that this ticket can only be purchased and used during three fixed periods of the years, of about forty days each, which coincide with academic holidays - so trains will be crowded.
Click here for more detailed information about the Seishun 18 Kippu.
Between Tokyo/Yokohama and Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe)
This is the most travelled route in Japan, as well by tourists as by business people. As a Shinkansen (bullet train) ticket cost about 12.000 yen one-way, it remains expensive. Night buses are cheaper, and price vary greatly from one company to another. "JR" has the most expensive, but also the most frequent and possibly most confortable buses. If you are looking for good deals, try Orion Tour, which has night buses running from Yokohama, Shinjuku or Tokyo station to Kyoto, Osaka or Kobe for 5000 yen one-way. It is preferable to speak some Japanese for the reservation, though.
What is the "Japan Rail Pass"?
The Japan Rail Pass is a train ticket valid for one, two or three weeks and allows unlimited travel on all JR lines (including some shinkansen) throughout Japan during this period. It is only available to short-time visitors (e.g. tourists) or Japanese overseas residents. In other words, people living in Japan (Japanese nationals or foreigners with a visa valid for more than three months), cannot buy it.
It is very convenient for people who are planning to travel long distances around Japan, but remains too expensive (28.300yen for the cheapest one) for those only visiting the Kanto or Kansai regions.
Visit the official Japan Rail Pass site, available in eight languages, for detailed information.