Japan's public transportation system is highly developed and amazingly well organized. It is only about 2 hours between Tokyo and Kyoto, the two most popular destinations among tourists, and the fastest bullet train NOZOMI runs every 10 minutes or more. In most cases public transportation such as trains and buses is the best way to travel around Japan. Then how can we take the advantage of it and make our trip more affordable? First thing you should do after you decide to go to Japan is to visit the website of Japan Rail Pass. It is a cost effective rail pass only for travelers from abroad for almost unlimited use of Japan Railways, whose networks covers all over Japan. One exception is the fastest bullet train, NOZOMI, but another bullet train HIKARI is fast enough to travel from Kyoto to Tokyo in less than 3 hours. So it would not be a big problem for budget travelers. The price varies in accordance with the length and the type of the seat, but an ordinary pass for 7 days use is 28,300 yen ($336.90*).
Please note that you should purchase it before you leave the U.S.
*According to the exchange rate as of December 1st 2010($1=¥84) Japan Rail Pass https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/getting-around/
In addition to Japan Rail Pass, there are various local discount tickets. Here're major discount tickets in Tokyo area.
|Name||Price*||Valid Train Route|
|Tokyo One-Day Free Ticket||¥1,580 ($18.80)||JR,Toei streetcars, Toei buses, Toei subways and Tokyo Metro|
|Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokunai Pass)||¥730 ($8.69)||JR|
|Toei One-Day Economy Pass||¥700 ($8.33)||Toei subway, buses and streetcars|
|Tokyo Metro One-Day Open Ticket||¥710 ($8.45)||Tokyo Metro|
|Common One-Day Ticket for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway||¥1,000 ($11.90)||Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway|
|Yurikamome One-Day Open Ticket||¥800 ($9.52)||New Transit Yurikamome (Tokyo Bay Area)|
Each of the above offers a good value for money, but it may be a little too complicated for travelers. For those who want a rather simple solution, let us suggest widely used smart card, Suica and PASMO. They are smart cards convenient for use on most railway system, subways and buses in Greater Tokyo. Just touch the card on the scanner at the entrance gates, and again as you leave at your destination. The fare will be automatically deducted. Now riders can use either card for any lines in greater Tokyo, Niigata and Sendai areas covered with them, so you don't have to hold both cards or to wonder which card to use. They are not only convenient but also eco-friendly because they're rechargeable and refundable.
*Note, a ¥210 handling fee will apply when you return an unused Suica. So using up all the charged fare before returning a Suica card is recommended. The ¥500 deposit will be refunded.
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