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Navigating Japan’s travel systems can be a bit overwhelming for first-time visitors, but with a little bit of knowledge and planning, it’s easy to get around and see all the amazing sights the country has to offer. I wanted to write a quick first time guide for those new to travelling around Japan so here we go:
Trains are your way to go
One of the most efficient ways to travel around Japan is by train. The Japan Railways Group (JR) operates a comprehensive network of trains that connect major cities and tourist destinations. The JR Pass is a popular option for tourists, as it allows for unlimited travel on JR trains for a fixed period of time. It’s important to note that the JR Pass is only available to foreign tourists and must be purchased before arriving in Japan. It’s almost much more worthwhile if you’re expecting to travel a lot during your days in Japan. I would highly recommend planning out your itinerary to make sure you’re utilising it for its full value.
Another option for travel is the subway or metro system, which can be found in most major cities in Japan. These systems are clean, reliable, and easy to navigate, with most signs and announcements in both Japanese and English. All you need is to buy a travel card which differs in areas but generally, all you need to find are the machines that sell it. For me, I just went up to the staff in the station and got asked to be directed to where to buy the card.
For longer distances, buses and airplanes are also available. Bus travel can be a bit more difficult to navigate, as many bus companies only have information available in Japanese, but it can be a more budget-friendly option. Air travel is a good option for getting to more remote destinations or for traveling between islands.
When it comes to getting around within a city, walking and biking are often the best options. Many cities in Japan have well-maintained sidewalks and bike lanes, and it’s a great way to see the sights and get a feel for the local culture. Taxis are also available, but they can be quite expensive, especially for long distances.
It’s important to note that Japan is a cash-based society, and many places may not accept credit or debit cards. It’s a good idea to carry some cash with you at all times and to have a plan for getting more cash if needed.
Overall, Japan’s travel systems are reliable, efficient, and easy to navigate, with many options for getting around the country. With a little bit of planning and knowledge, you can make the most of your time in Japan and see all the amazing sights it has to offer.