What type of transportation to use in Japan is a question many tourists ask. In most parts of the world, it is normal to do tours by car or bus, but in Japan, the most common way of touring and exploring the main cities is by using the efficient Japanese public transportation system. But what is the cost of that?
First, let's establish here: 100 yen is roughly $1 USD
Within Tokyo or the largest cities of Japan, assuming you aren't going on day trips, you typically don't spend more than 1000 to 1500 Yen daily on transport. If you travel more than that as a visitor to the city, you are likely trying to hit too many places in one day.
You will mostly be traveling by subway within the city unless you want to go to another city. In that case, you will need to take a bus or a shinkansen. buses are cheaper but slower, and the Shinkansen (bullet train) is a lot faster but can be a bit expensive too, with prices around 10.000 yen depending on the destination.
Most of the city subway (Tokyo Metro for example) tickets cost around 100–200 yen for a single trip, but the price varies by distance and may often be higher if you are traveling far. Buses also have a similar price range.
In most major cities, you can buy a day pass, which gives you unlimited travel for 24 hours for around 800 yen. It's worth it if you are trying visiting many places in one day and you can buy these passes either from the ticket machine or at the ticket gate with a subway operator.If your plan is to take the bus to travel around the city, the prices are similar
Note: Keep in mind that if you are going on a tour, you will need to bring extra cash for your guide's transportation fee as well, which makes using public transportation even more interesting.
IC cards are rechargeable cards that can be used to pay for many purposes. You can pay for your subway, train or bus and you can even use it to pay for restaurants, shop in the Kombini (convenience stores) and buy drinks from the vending machine.
Buying an IC card will not help you to save money, but for sure will make you save time! It is much quicker to buy a card and charge it once, than having to buy a ticket every time you need to move from place-to-place. The best part is that after you are done with your IC card, you can return it to any JR operator and ask for a cash-back. They will return the money you have in the IC card and also give you back the 500 yen you paid to get it.
The major IC cards in Japan are Suica, Pasmo, Icoca, Pitapa, Toica, Manaca, Kitaca, Sugoca, Nimoca and Hayakaken. They cover virtually the same things (although the Icoca card is also valid on non-JR transportation in Okayama and Hiroshima), so basically, the only difference is where they can be purchased and refunded.
How to get your IC card:
For this tutorial, we'll use the example of a Suica card.
- Find an IC card machine. It is the same as the one you use to buy the train ticket. Look for the logo of an IC card company n the machine (see in the image above) and go to that machine.
- Touch the “Purchase New Suica” button.
- Select the Suica
- Insert the amount of money you want to put on the card. Note that for the first time, 500 yen will be the cost of the card (deposit). Therefore, if you put 2,000, the card itself will have only 1,500.
- You can use the Suica and charge it when the amount is low.
It is the same process for every machine so don't worry! it's easy to get yours.
The IC cards are valid on almost all trains, subways and buses in Japan, except the Limited express trains, Shinkansen and airport and Highway Buses. These require their own tickets.
If you are going to travel to other cities, you also have the option of buying a Japan Rail Pass.
The JR Pass is a special rail pass in Japan designed to allow tourists to have unlimited travel on JR services. This includes some – but not all – of the trains and buses in Japan.
See here the prices of the JR pass as of 2017:
You can learn everything about the JR pass in this article: JR Rail Pass - Everything you need to know.
I hope this article helped shed some light on the costs of public transportation in Japan was useful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact GoWithGuide for anything you may need regarding your trip to Japan.
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