How to travel across Japan on any budget

Many travelers around the world have Japan on their bucket’s list because of the country’s rich culture and unique beauty. Getting around Japan, on the other hand, can present a challenge. Besides the language barrier, travelers can quickly find transportation tickets in Japan out of their budget. Don’t let the challenge deter you, however, as Japan has much to offer. The country’s infrastructure is one of the best in the world. Surely, with some duly research, you will be able to find a solution to match your budget.

Airplane

You will probably be flying into Japan on one of the major Japanese airlines or on an airline from your home country. Flying into Japan can be easy as the country is heavily connected to the rest of the world.

Flying from city to city in Japan can be an option as well, for both upper-class and budget travelers. An interesting fact is that while there are hundreds of airlines flying in and out of Japan, the domestic market is mainly dominated by the JAL group and ANA group. Together they fly to over 50 airports within Japan.

If you have no budget limit, air traveling can be very fast and comfortable, especially with a first class ticket. For budget travelers, try to keep up with all the sale and promotion announcements from JAL and ANA group. Other smaller domestic airlines also offer good sales once in a while, but their routes can be more limited. Flying during off-season times can also help you score a shockingly cheap ticket.

Railways

Japan has a state-of-the-art railway system that is known for their punctuality and safety. The top of the line, the shinkansen or bullet train, is even considered a unique, must-have experience for foreign visitors. The high speed bullet train can run as fast as 320km/h. Tickets are more expensive than regular trains, sometimes 5 times higher, but travelers can get to their destination at a fraction of the time. For budget travelers from outside of Japan, getting a Japan Rail Pass is an affordable way to experience the bullet train.

For travelers who have an even tighter budget but still want to experience Japanese railways, there are local and express trains available. These types of trains are quite reliable and punctual, although nowhere as fast as the bullet train. The perk is that they can offer a better scenic view and at a much lower cost. Night trains are also a good way to travel across country in your sleep, plus you can save on the night’s accommodation.

Bus

Japan also has an extensive network of local and long-distance buses, which are ran by state-owned and private operators. On popular routes, bus riders can choose from many different bus lines and operators. Travelling on buses can be slow, often slower than an express train, and more uncomfortable. In return, bus tickets are even cheaper than train tickets. Willer Express, one of the major bus companies in Japan, also offers a Japan Bus Pass for foreign visitors, which is sold at a surprisingly low price.

Traveling by buses can also be quite comfortable for travelers with a higher budget. Even though a more expensive ticket cannot make the bus run any faster, it can buy you a private compartment, some extra space, or a personal multimedia monitor to keep you entertained.
Travelers can sometimes choose to ride buses for a simpler reservation process. Unlike railway companies, most tour bus operators have an online ticketing system. Some of them even have an English website with all the information written out in English. This can be a life saver for those who do not speak a word of Japanese.

Experience Japan at your own budget

Traveling across Japan has its own challenge and can be more expensive than some other parts of the world. However, with so many options available, you can certainly work out a plan that fits your budget, time constraint, and comfort requirements.