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Last updated : Nov 2009
Japan Getting Around - Internal Travel
Japan travel internal - Japan TravelPuppy

All Nippon Airways, Japan Air System and Japan Airlines (JL) and many other airlines are part of an extensive network serving Japan proper and its islands. Tokyo’s domestic airport is Haneda (HND). A monorail service operates from Hamamatsu-cho to Haneda. One international airline, China Airlines, serves Haneda. Additional international flights to and from Haneda are made via Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka or Tokyo airports. Primary routes are Tokyo–Sapporo; Tokyo–Fukuoka; Tokyo–Osaka; and Tokyo–Naha. Tickets can be bought from automatic machines at Tokyo International Airport’s domestic departure counter and also at Osaka International Airport.


There are frequent services made by high-speed boat, ferry or hydrofoil to Japan’s islands. Widely used routes include Tokoyo–Hokkaido (in the north) and Tokyo–Okinawa (in the south).

Major sea routes include Awaji Island: Akashi– Iwaya; Shodo Island: Himeji–Fukuda, Takamatsu–Tonosho; and Okayama–Tonosho; Takamatsu–Tonosho; Shiraishijima and Manabejima Islands: Kasaoka–Shiraishijima–Manabejima; Ikuchijima and Omishama Islands: Mihara–Setoda. Bullet train services frequently travel to ports.


The Japan Railways Group (JR) operates one of the best rail networks in the world, and is heavily used for both business and pleasure. Express and ‘limited express’ trains are best for intercity travel. Very frequent services operate on the main routes.

The fastest trains are Shinkansen, the ‘Bullet Trains’, these have compartments for wheelchair passengers, diners and buffet facilities. Supplements can be purchased on the three classes of express train and in ‘Green’ (1st-class) cars of principal trains, for which reservations must be made.

Additional types of train include Tokkyu (Limited Express), Kyuko (Express), Kaisoku (Rapid Train) and Futsu (Local Train). For short-distance trains, tickets can only be purchased at vending machines outside train stations. For timetables, route maps, fares and reservations, see online (web site: www.japanrail.com).

Discount fares

The Japan Rail Pass, an economical pass for foreign tourists which must be purchased before arriving in Japan, can be purchased from Japan Airlines (JL users only) or authorised travel agents and agencies. It is good for use on all trains except the new Nozomi super express trains, and also on Japan Rail buses and Japan Rail ferries. A Japan Rail Pass brochure is offered from the Japan National Tourist Organisation (see Contact Addresses section).

A 7-day basic pass currently costs ¥28,300. Travellers who do not have a Japan Rail Pass, there is a range of other discount schemes available including a 10 per cent discount at any JR Group Hotel.

Additional rail passes include the JR East Pass, JR Kyushu Rail Pass, Kansai Area Pass JR West Rail Pass and the Sanyo Area Pass. For information about other discount fares, contact the Japan Railways Group.


Driving in Japan is confusing for those who cannot read the language as it will be difficult to understand the road signs. Traffic in cities is usually congested.

The traffic drives on the left in Japan. The Keiyo Highway, Tohoku Expressway, Meishin Expressway and the Tomei Expressway connect Japan’s major Pacific coastal cities, passing through beautiful scenery.


An International Driving Permit is required to drive in Indonesia.


Public transport is very well developed, efficient yet quite crowded. The underground systems and privately operated suburban rail services, which serve all the main cities, are quite convenient but best avoided during rush hours. Tokyo also has an excellent network of trams.


Buses can be complicated and should be used with someone who knows the system. Otherwise visitors should get precise details of their destination from the hotel. Fares systems are automated, however passes may be available. On buses, payment can be made on leaving.


All of Japan’s biggest cities have subway systems.

Tokyo has two underground systems: the Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA) operates the Eidan Subway and has eight lines, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TBTMG) operates four lines. A range of tickets can be purchased including a monthly open pass, 1-day open ticket, 14 tickets for the price of 10, and a Tokyo Combination ticket; this can be purchased 6 months in advance and allows the passenger unlimited travel on the subway, JR rail and Toei buses for one day within the 6 months.

Kyoto also has its own subway system containing 2 major lines: the Karasuma and Tozai lines. Kyoto Sightseeing Passes can be purchased allowing unlimited rides on buses and the underground.

Taxi: These can be expensive, especially in rush hour (07:30-09:30 and 17:00-18:00). There is a minimum charge for the first 2km (1.2 miles) and there is a time charge in slow moving traffic. It is recommended for visitors to have prepared the name and address of their destination in Japanese writing, together with the name of a nearby landmark; a map may also be helpful. Hotels will provide this service.