Japan is compared to other countries in Asia, known as a rather expensive country to travel. But what exactly can you expect?
You will experience one of the most effective transport systems in the world. Japan’s public transport is known for it’s punctual and clean trains. This service has of course it’s price…
Train and subway system
JR: The Japan Railways company is in fact a group of 6 railway companies in Japan. They run all Shinkansen lines and offer the Japan Railpass for tourists. With that rail pass you can travel unlimited on all JR lines for 7, 14 or 21 days.
Although you can buy a JR pass in Japan nowadays, you’d better buy the JR pass before you leave to Japan. The pass is rather expensive and costs you 20% more if you buy it in Japan.
Very conveniant is this Japan Railpass calculator from Japan-Guide.com. It calculates if in the itineraries you want to make in Japan, the railpass would be cheaper than tickets or not.
Prices Japan Railpass (as on December 2018):
7 days: €226
14 days: €361
21 days: €462
Other railway companies:
There are dozens of other railway companies in Japan, but for travelers these might be most interesting:
- Kanto region (around Tokyo): Odakyu, Keio, Tobu and Keisei
- Kansai region (Nara, Kyoto, Osaka): Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu, Hanshin
- Kyushu region (Fukuoka): Nishitetsu
The cost for a ticket varies (depending on distance) between ¥20/km for short distances and less than ¥10/km for long distances.
Every local railway company has its own discount passes. Too much to show them all, but here are some examples:
Odakyu offers the Hakone Freepass (Shinjuku – Hakone), valid for two days: ¥5140
Keio offers one day tickets for ¥900.
Tobu offers the Nikko City Area Pass: 2 days, ¥2670 and 4 days, ¥4150.
Kintetsu offers one day passes for Kyoto, Osaka, Nara for ¥1500.
Different kinds of trains in Japan:
- Shinkansen: super express train, bullet train, high speed
- Tokkyu: limited express train
- Kyuko: express train
- Kaisoku: rapid train
- Futsu: local train
- Juntokkyu: semi special express train
- Junkyu: semi express train
- Tsukin: commuter train
If your planning to take more than 3 rides, it can be a better idea to get yourself a prepaid smartcard such as Suica. You can buy such IC cards at the vending machines in train and subway stations and you can use them everywhere. Please note that you will be asked to pay a refundable deposit of ¥500.
In Japan you have local busses and long distance busses (highway busses).
Local bus inside Tokyo (23 wards): ¥210 (with IC card: ¥206) when entering the bus!!
Local bus outside of Tokyo: take a ticket when entering the bus; payment when leaving the bus, fare (nr on ticket) on screen.
How to ride a public (local) bus in Japan.
Riding a bus in Japan is in fact very easy and convenient. Just make sure to take a ticket (not in Tokyo busses!) when entering the bus.
Next to the local busses, you have the so called ‘Highway busses‘
One advantage of those busses are the rides during night. These busses are comfortable enough to spend the night in. Moreover, these busses cover areas that are not covered by train. Of course they are slower than the trains, but they are a much more cheaper option!
E.g.: a round trip from Osaka – Tokyo – Osaka by bus costs around ¥16.000. Should you do the same roundtrip by Shinkansen, it would cost you ¥27.000.
Willer Express is one of the most popular bus companies in Japan for travelers. The two main reasons are their easy online reservation page in English and the fact that you can buy a Japan Bus Pass as a tourist.
There are 2 kinds of bus passes:
Monday – Tuesday passes: ¥10.000 (3 days), ¥12.500 (5 days), ¥15.000 (7 days)
All day passes: ¥12.500 (3 days), ¥15.000 (5 days)
Taxi fares start at around ¥400-¥700 (depending on city and hour) and rise with around ¥100 with every 500meter.
Next to transport, you will be spending most of your money on accommodation. Of course all depends on your choices. Herewith a small overview of budgetfriendly possibilities.
Manga cafes (1500 – 3000 Yen/p/night): Establishments where you can rent a space to read manga or go on internet. You can rent the space for the night.
Hostels (1500 – 3000 Yen/p/night): Dormitories, hostels, backpackers inn’s are quite common in larger cities. Hostelworld is a very popular booking site.
24 Hour Bahts (2000 – 5000 Yen/p/night): Gender segregated public baths with special rooms to rest.
Capsule Hotels (2000 – 5000 Yen/p/night): World famous small cabins with or without TV and Internet.
Ryokan, Minshuku and pensions (3000 – 15000 Yen/p/night): booking is possible with ‘Japanese Guest Houses’
Homestay (75000 – 95000 Yen/p/month): Homestay is a rather popular formula for young people and students. You stay with a host family mostly for long term. Breakfast and diner included.
Just to give you an idea on average prices of food:
- Sushi: ¥105
- Curry: ¥850
- Ramen: ¥850
- Local Restaurant: ¥700 – ¥1400
- Coffee: ¥450
- Beer: ¥450
Cost per day in Japan (domestic transport and accommodation included):
Low budget traveler: ¥10.000/day (€80)
Enjoying traveler: ¥15.000/day (€120)
Luxury traveler: ¥20.000/day (€160)