How to Save Money on Transportation in Japan

Depending on how much of Japan you want to see, getting around could be your biggest expense, but it doesn’t have to be. The biggest tip for travelling cheap in Japan is plan ahead! Do not wait until you are in Japan to think about how you are going to travel. If you do, it will be a costly mistake.


Flying is a great option, and you can get good prices on all domestic airlines if you book two months in advance. Most airlines have English websites. There are also low cost airlines in Japan including Skymark and Peach, but in order to take advantage of the deals they offer, you must book as far in advance as possible (most tickets become available exactly 2 months before departure).


Trains in Japan are fast, clean and keep to their schedules, but they are not cheap. A rail pass can save you a ton of money on taking the train, but can only be bought outside of Japan. You can get a national or regional rail pass depending on your plans. Other discounts are available, but your best bet is to book from home. For an idea of undiscounted prices and times, check out


There are plenty of busses that run all over the country. They are generally clean, efficient and reasonably priced. There are many different bus companies and most offer great deals. One of the best long-distance nationwide bus companies is Willer Express. They offer a great value bus pass, but it needs to be purchased outside of Japan.

Car Rental

Car rental in Japan is very expensive. In addition to high rental costs and insurance, fuel, tolls and parking are also very expensive. Considering how well connected the country is by other modes of transportation, you probably won’t need a car, except to get to the most out of the way destinations. The only way I could see this as being cost-effective is if you were travelling in a group of 3 or more. If you do want to rent a car in Japan, your cheapest option is probably ToCoo. Their rates are the lowest and they offer English GPS.


Japan is an island country, and offers many different ferry services. Some are an incredibly good value if you don’t need a private cabin. Most ferry services have websites which offer discounts, but they are almost all in Japanese. Enlist the help of a travel agent or someone at your hotel or hostel, or go to the ferry port in person to make a reservation.


Japan is a wonderful country with excellent public transportation but you can really save a lot of money by doing a little research and planning ahead. Most of the best deals on tansport must be purchased before coming to Japan. Have a great trip and enjoy your time in Japan.

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