Japan is easy to get around once you’ve come here! The roads and rails are connected perfectly to make sure that it’s possible to go from one place to another quickly, efficiently, and sometimes, even beautifully.
Perhaps the most well known of Japan’s transportation is its rail system. Trains are a national hobby for Japan, and you can clearly see the devotion with the amount of toy trains and train themed bento boxes that can be encountered while shopping. Before coming to Japan, I had heard a lot about how intricate and complicated the subway system was, and how it was intimidating for most foreign travelers. The truth is that it is intricate, but it is not so complicated, although you do have to be careful that you definitely are getting off at the right stop. Most of the lines are run independently of each other, but there is so much cross over that it is entirely possible to get where you need to go without having to travel too far or even go back over ground. Of course, the pride of Japan is its fast travel Shinkansen line, which can get travelers from Tokyo to Osaka in three hours, rather than the long bus trip otherwise.
There are lots of neighborhood buses that intersect the city and are rather cheap compared to some metropolitan services in other countries. The seating can be quite limited, but it’s a great way to get short distances without having to pay as much as a train fare would. The only drawback is of course the time schedules are rather rigid, but this is true with any bus coverage in any part of the world, and it’s a lot cheaper than some buses I have used!
Taxi service is also everywhere. However, it is true that taxis in Japan tend to be some of the most expensive in the entire world. Usually, the first two kilometers will cost about 730 yen as a flat fee, and tips are not normally expected. After the first two km, prices tend to increase fast! Most taxis also have a late night and early morning surcharge of 20%. There are some prices that are set by time, but these are not cheaper than the flat kilometer rate for short distance driving.
Japan is also a very bicycle friendly country. It’s easy to find near any major shopping district a large cluster of parked bicycles, and most apartments have spaces specifically for them. Sidewalk biking is commonplace here, and can be a bit hazardous on busy days in busy areas. Of course, biking one’s way through town is the cheapest, most environmentally friendly, and healthiest way to get around, but be mindful of traffic, both on the street and on the sidewalk!
There are car-sharing services worth mentioning as well. Cars can be rented by some services literally by the minute; if you only need a car long enough to put groceries back home or for shopping trips that require a little more carrying power than what someone can handle using the bus or train, it’s perfect and not unreasonably priced.
With all the options available to the traveler, Japan is easily accessible and every place is able to be reached by any reasonable means. And don’t forget to keep smartphones handy just in case someone wanders off the trail!