The major airline companies in Japan are Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). Both have their own respective networks that offer various routes throughout the country. JAL especially is an airline company that boasts its size which is one of the largest in the world. There also are other airline companies that are fairly new or small-sized in Japan and they offer prices that are more affordable than the major companies.
- Skymark Airlines : Tokyo⇔Sapporo, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Naha
- Air DO : Tokyo⇔Sapporo, Hakodate, Asahikawa, and Memanbetsu
- Skynet Asia Airways : Tokyo⇔Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima
- Oriental Air Bridge : Nagasaki⇔Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Iki, Tsushima, and Fukue
- Star Flyer : Tokyo⇔Osaka and Kitakyushu
JAL, ANA, and Skymark have their own English websites that allow ticket reservations to be made online. Although online reservations are not possible on the English websites of Air DO and Skynet Asia Airways, their respective telephone numbers for reservations are listed.
The companies are competing against each other by offering various discount services including discounts for students, senior citizens, and advance purchasing.
The massive railway network centered on Japan Railways (JR) is developed throughout the Japanese archipelago, linking Honshu with Shikoku, Kyushu and Hokkaido by bridges and tunnels. Major cities are connected with Shinkansen (bullet trains) and limited express trains, and rail track networks within metropolises such as electric trains, subways, monorails and streetcars operate every few minutes. Japan boasts a highly frequent and punctual railway system although crowded and train schedules tend slightly fall behind during the rush hour. Station renovations to make them barrier free are being carried out. Some stations have many shops inside their buildings.
Many railways in rural areas are single track, with some lines taking more than one hour between trains. Some scenic mountainous railways entertain tourists by running steam locomotives. Boxed lunches distinctive to each area called "Ekiben" are sold at stations in all corners of the country, attracting attention for their uniqueness.
The railway is an extremely important transportation method for the everyday lives of Japanese people, at the same time, it continues to seize hearts of thousands and millions of railway fans nationwide motivating them to film trains and create railway models.
The buses operated in Japan can roughly be divided into the following three types: long-distance, local, and sightseeing.
The long-distance buses run on expressways between cities. Although it takes more time to travel on them than trains or airplanes, they are cheaper and some of them even run late at night. Therefore, they are popular among many people.
As for local buses, their routes and schedules are set and they are mainly used for commuting. Thus, they are a type of transportation that is closely attached to the everyday lives of the people.
The sightseeing buses run on routes going around various tourist spots that start from and end at major hotels or train stations. Such buses allow passengers to efficiently tour around the many tourist spots within a short amount of time.
Although comparatively higher in price than trains or buses, taxis nonetheless are the most convenient means of transportation in urban areas.
There are three ways you can use a taxi: Get on a taxi from a taxi stand located at stations, airports, or sightseeing spots, call the taxi company to ask for one, and stop a taxi (without any passenger) running on the road by raising your hand. If a taxi is not carrying any passenger, the sign "empty" will be indicated in red on the sign board set up on the dashboard. At nighttime, taxis in Tokyo turn on their lamps placed on top of the vehicles when empty. However, this may not be the case in other cities since the drivers turn them on at all times.
Since the door on the left side in the backseat of a taxi will open and close automatically, you do not need to touch it if you are using that door.
Recently, taxis are becoming non smoking in many regions. However, other than such places, there still are many taxi companies allowing passengers to smoke.
There are two types of taxis: small-sized and medium-sized. The latter is a little bit more expensive than the former. While the majority of the taxis are small-sized in many of the cities, mostly medium-sized ones are found in Tokyo.
As for the fare, it is calculated by adding a certain amount to the base fare (starting fare) according to the distance traveled and time. During late hours (10:00pm - 5:00am), it is increased by approximately 20%. In some cases, the fares may vary depending on the region or company such as not charging any fee for pickup, setting the base fare at a low price, and not increasing the late hour fee too much. Credit cards can be used on taxis that have stickers indicating that they are accepted. Although some passengers choose to give away their change to the drivers, tipping is basically not necessary.
In major cities like Tokyo where traffic seems to be congested all the time, cars are not always necessary since railroad networks that are very convenient can be used instead. However, it is also true that cars become necessary in the daily lives of people living in the outskirts of such cities.
Japan is a country where drivers keep to the left side of the road and the speed limit is indicated in kilometers per hour. On open roads where speed signs cannot be found, the maximum speed allowed is 60 kilometers per hour. The road signs are mostly the same as other countries but the auxiliary signs are written in Japanese. Taking a left at the red light is not allowed except for places where a sign indicating that a left turn is allowed can be found. When driving, seat belts must be worn by all passengers including the driver and children six years old and younger must be seated in car seats. Drivers are not allowed to use their mobile phones when driving unless hands-free devices are used. When riding on motorcycles, wearing the helmet is required. As for minibikes called Gentsuki-jitensha, these bikes should travel only on the left side of the road and the speed must be kept at 30 kilometers per hour or below. Regarding bicycles, the law states that they are allowed only on the left side of the road excluding places on sidewalks where the "bicycles allowed" sign is found although, in reality, you find many people riding their bicycles on sidewalks. Additionally, two people cannot ride on the same bicycle at once and bicycle lights must be turned on at night.
The Japanese roads are made up of expressways, national roads, prefectural roads, and those belonging to respective cities, wards, towns, and villages. A number is given to every national and prefectural road while road number signs are set up and the same numbers are also indicated on maps. Moreover, the roads in the urban districts are called by their names rather than their numbers in most cases.
Not only are there differences between your country and Japan's rules and general knowledge regarding driving but you even may not completely understand some of the road signs. Therefore, by fully being aware of such matter, please remember to drive safely.
The approximately 1,700 routes for ships that run between the four main islands of Japan--Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku--along with the many small islands of the nation, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, play an important role as a means for conducting daily life, tourism and for the distribution of goods. There are various types of ships, such as large vessels outfitted with extravagant equipment and capable of carrying hundreds of vehicles at once, state-of-the-art high-speed ships, and leisurely sightseeing boats for enjoying the scenery, to suit various areas and roles. Using these on a trip, you can get a different feel from other means of transportation. Aside from the many short-distance ferries, rest assured that your reservation will be served. Schedules change with the season, so make sure to check in advance. Rooms on boats are typically divided into special, first and second class, and there are also communal sleeping areas set up. You must fill out your boarding application form and complete boarding procedures between 30 and 60 minutes before departure on the day of your journey.