Bus and Coach Travel in Japan

Information on getting around the country using the bus and coach networks...

There are many public and private bus and coach companies, not only in big cities but also in regional towns. The following companies allow tickets to be purchased and reservations made in English:

Travellers should be aware that many destinations and stop signs on buses may be in Japanese only.

Fares depend on the company and there are two different ways of paying:

  • Paying the driver
  • Using a machine at the bus stop, on entering or exiting the bus

There are also fixed fares which are usually 200 yen. If a fare is not fixed, take a ticket which indicates the zone number of the starting point at which the bus was boarded. An electric sign at the front of the bus shows the fare depending on the point for each starting zone number. This is paid to the driver before getting off the bus. There is often a change machine near the front of the bus that can change 100 and 500 yen coins and 1,000 yen notes.

There are also long-distance buses, or highway buses (kosoku bus), which are available both day and night. This is a more economical way to get about than by plane or by train if travel time is not an issue. Some major long-distance bus companies are:

  • Willer Express - nationwide discount service operator, which sells the Japan Bus Pass
  • JR Buses - formerly part of Japan Rail, the national railway line, made up of eight regional networks (JR Kanto Bus is the only one with an English website)
    • For further details and timetables for long-distance buses from Japan Rail: Click here

Some of Japan's other major bus companies include Tobu Bus, Tokyu Bus and Odakyu Bus. Note that websites are in Japanese only.

Trams

There are many cities which have tram lines, for example, Hakodate, Kumamoto, Matsuyama, and Nagasaki. Fares are very similar to those charged for buses.