We recommend travelling between the cities in Japan by using a Japan Rail Pass, on the hi-tech “Shinkansen” trains. The passes are valid for 7, 14 or 21 days, and they are the most convenient and economical option when taking multiple train journeys across Japan. When you arrive at each station you can reserve seats for your onward journey, so that you don’t need to head back to the station until you leave….easy!
It’s best not to carry too much bulky luggage with you while travelling around Japan as the luggage racks aren’t suitable for large bulky suitcases, more for backpacks and hand luggage. If you do have a larger suitcase, you’ll normally find a reasonable gap between the rearmost seats and the back wall.
Getting about in the big cities is pretty straightforward due to well-developed subway networks. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto offer various day passes which are helpful for the budget too. Although it is rare to find subway time tables in English in Japan, you will usually find the staff at the service counters friendly and helpful to assist you in planning your journey. There are also various apps you can download onto your phone to help with navigation.
In the larger cities you’ll find taxis around almost every corner. Taxi fares are generally fairly high, although this does vary from city to city. Phoning ahead for a taxi in Japan usually adds on extra surcharges to your fare, as does travelling late at night. If you do choose to get about by taxi, we recommend avoiding the morning and evening rush hours to miss the traffic and an ever increasing taxi fare!
Getting around in the smaller cities and towns couldn’t be easier! Many hotels and guest houses often have bicycles to rent or sometimes free with your stay. In the smaller towns the roads are less busy and so are perfect for seeing life above ground comfortably and for very little cost.
Travelling with meaning
In Japan, we highly recommend travelling by as many authentic methods as possible – at least once. Seeing the towns and villages by bicycle is environmentally friendly and helps provide income to local businesses.
Train travel will offer the best opportunity to mix with locals and personal encounters such as these can become your most cherished memories. Read more about how you can travel meaningfully around Japan.