Bus Transportation in Japan
Japanese Public Road Transport
Public transportation on road is a large part of the transportation network in Japan. The service is provided by buses, mainly in urbanized areas, and coaches, that connect the archipelago’s largest cities and touristic places.
City buses or local buses can be found everywhere in the country and according to the size of the city, can help create a more intricate transportation network in addition to trains and subways. They are a necessity to visit Kyoto, but not essential for tourists in Tokyo or Osaka. They are characterized by:
- Getting on from the rear door and getting off at the front;
- A fare calculated on the distance (except in Kyoto);
- A small size, it is almost impossible to ride with luggage.
Most of bus companies accept payment by IC Card such as Suica, and / or have an offer of one-day pass or passes designed for specific itineraries.
Long-distance buses are a money-saving alternative to train, with fare often twice or thrice less expensive, but considerably slower. Customers appreciate them for night travels as they can help save on the price of a night at the hotel while being fairly comfortable. There are several inter-cities buses’ companies, also called "highway buses," but most of them only allow booking in Japanese.
Long-distance buses are characterized by:
- The possibility to travel with a large checked baggage;
- High comfort standards: comfortable seating, toilets in the bus, and / or frequent stops at rest and services areas;
- Departures and arrivals from and in urban hubs (Shibuya, Shinjuku).
Moreover, they serve places inaccessible by train, especially mountain areas (Japanese Alps, Mount Fuji), and renowned thermal resorts such as Kusatsu.
Luxury coach lines are also being developed, especially on the Tokyo-Osaka route, with a comfort similar to a train or plane’s first class: highly inclinable seats, individual cabin, screen, blanket and slippers, etc. to arrive fresh and relaxed for an appointment or to start a day of visits!
Foreign tourists can also enjoy long-distance buses with travel passes, in an array of formulas on several consecutive days or several days over a specific period, or unlimited travels on specific lines and periods, that can be money-saving deals even compared to train travels and the Japan Rail Pass.