Getting Around

International Flights to Japan
Japan is easily accessible from the UK and continental Europe with over one hundred direct flights every week to four of Japan’s 22 International Airports. You will arrive at either Narita (Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka), Nagoya, or Sapporo. All other destinations within Japan can be reached quickly and conveniently using the country’s extensive network of rail, bus and domestic air services.

As standard the international flights on our tours to Japan are NOT included in the price. There are daily options with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and ANA. Direct flight times to Japan take 11 hours 30 minutes.

In-direct International Flights to Japan
In-direct international options from London usually involve a stop/change in the home hub of the airline, for example: Emirates fly from London to Narita and Osaka with a stopover in Dubai for 3 hours. Air France fly from London to Narita and Osaka with a stopover in Paris of 2 hours. Cathay Pacific fly from London to Narita, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo with a stopover in Hong Kong of 2 to 3 hours. There are many other airlines to choose from with stop overs en-route. These flights inevitably take a bit longer, but can on occasion work out to be the most cost-effective.

The railway system in Japan has a high reputation for punctuality and safety.

The train fare varies naturally depending on the distance you travel as well as the type of train you wish to catch: Limited Express, Express etc. and the type of reserved seat: Green Car (first class), Sleeper etc., for each of which an extra charge is required.

Tickets for short distances are available from ticket machines that are installed at each train station whereas tickets for long distances and reservations are dealt with at ticket offices at major stations.

To use the train, first purchase a ticket at a vending machine or ticket window. Your ticket is punched by hand at the wicket or inserted in a punching machine. Please keep the ticket since it must be returned at your destination.

If there is no fare chart in English, buy the cheapest ticket indicated on the vending machine and pay the difference due at the fare adjustment office at your destination station before you go through the exit turnstile.

Most stations display station names in both Japanese and alphabet lettering on platform signboards. The name of the station is in large letters in the center of the sign; names of adjacent stations appear below or to either side.

Most if not all trains stop operating around midnight.

Shinkansen Bullet Train
The shinkansen has several lines. The Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen, which links Tokyo and Hakata, is the one that many travellers use. The Tohoku shinkansen links Tokyo and Hachinohe (Aomori Pref.), the Johetsu shinkansen links Tokyo and Niigata, the Nagano shinkansen links Tokyo and Nagano, and the Kyushu Shinkansen in Kyushu presently links Shinyatsushiro (Kumamoto Pref.) and Kagoshima Chuo (Kagoshima Pref).

Night Trains
Due to the high-speed that people can travel around Japan by bullet trains and increasing competition from low-cost airlines and cheaper overnight buses, the number of night trains in Japan has decreased dramatically. However, there are still a number of them operating on the main island of Honshu and even services linking to Shikoku and Hokkaido.Seats on night trains are covered by the JR pass (please note that note all night trains have seats), but it does not cover shared or private compartments. You have to pay for these separately and also pay for the (limited) express fee of around 3,000 yen and in some instances, other fees.The most popular night travel for travellers tends to be the Hokutosei and Cassiopeia trains that run from Ueno station in Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaido.

Taxis are widely available and can usually deliver customers to addresses written in Japanese or on business cards. If the red light in the lower left corner of the windshield is lit, then the cab is free and it can be flagged down. Be careful when approaching a taxi’s left rear door: it is opened and closed automatically from within by the driver.

Subway lines are available in all major cities, and provide prompt, efficient transportation. JR Yamanote-sen loop line in Tokyo and its Osaka kanjo-sen loop line both circle the centre of their respective cities. In Tokyo, JR rates start from 130 Japanese yen, subway fares at 160 Japanese yen for Tokyo Metro and Toei (Metropolitan) lines, and both increase with the distance travelled. Almost all station has vending machines for tickets and automatic ticket-checking machines at their entrance/exit gates.