Japan: Modernistic Tokyo Meets Ancestral Kyoto on the Web
Japan is often thought of as the most modern country in the world, and in many ways it is. Yet behind the glitz and glamour of the neon lights and robot dogs, you’ll find a deeply traditional culture that changes at a glacial speed. This guide features the best Web sites to aid you in planning and implementing your trip to Japan, including resources to introduce you to Japanese culture and sightseeing, tools for finding and booking transportation and accommodation, advice to help you stay safe and healthy overseas, and blogs and forums to put you in touch with other travelers.
Japan may be instantly and endlessly intoxicating, but the country’s complex mix of old and ... read more »
Japan has its share of cultural quirks and distinct specifications regarding manners and public ... read more »
A highly developed country, Japan is easily accessible to travelers worldwide. Use the sites below ... read more »
If you’ve got money to spend and a penchant for high-tech hotels, you’re in luck. ... read more »
For such a far-flung country, Japan is surprisingly easy to navigate. It boasts the most advanced train system in the world, as well as many local travel options and a friendly populace to help you on your way.
- Japan is known for its trains, but it also has an extensive and well-maintained system of highways and roads. An international driver’s license is required to legally drive in Japan, and can be obtained through the Krascar International Travel Club.
- If you plan on staying in Japan longer than a year, you will eventually have to apply for a Japanese driver’s license, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain for an American. JapanDriversLicense.com may be able to help.
- The Japanese government discourages car travel and prefers that people use public transportation. As such, tolls on Japanese roads can be prohibitively high.
- Think about making your inter-Japan plane reservations before you get to the country. Japanese travel agents have been known to routinely charge foreigners more than they charge locals.
- The popular Japan Rail Pass can be used for local trains and most JR (Japan Railways) trains traveling all over the country, but only be bought by foreigners outside of the country.
- Taxis are extremely expensive in Japan, and the driver very often requires a map or directions from you. Also, don’t tip the driver (it’s considered rude), and remember that car doors are automatic and can be opened only by the driver.
- Japan is one of the safest countries for hitchhiking. Though you won’t see many Japanese people hitching, most drivers find hitchhiking foreigners amusing and are quick to pick them up. If you’re planning to do any hitching, we recommend Will Ferguson’s books: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan” and “Hokkaido Highway Blues.”
For trains …
Japan Rail Pass
can be used all over the country, and is a popular option for international travelers of Japan. Learn essential information here, such as different types of passes, which stations accept them, and how to purchase one (you must do so before you arrive in Japan).
outlines other rail pass options for individual regions, some of which also include bus service. Some of these trains may be slower than the famously fast national rail system, but they offer an excellent view of the country.
provides thorough information about the country’s famous bullet trains, known in Japan as Shinkansen
. View a map of the different routes and get a summary of what to expect from each. Also download PDF versions of timetables and fares
For buses …
Japan Cheap Travel
has a homemade look (simple text with no graphics or special features), but it provides thorough information on all practical aspects of travel in Japan, including links to essential transportation booking sites. This section covers the basics of buses, and links to sites for timetables, prices, and online booking.
Randy Johnson’s Japan Page
is led by a world traveler who lived in Japan for four years and has maintained this comprehensive site since 1995. He provides detailed advice for riding rural and overnight buses in Japan, including where to find them, how to get tickets, what to say to the driver, and other essential facts.
For air travel within Japan …
(JAL) was mentioned in the “How do I get to Japan?” section of this guide for its international flights, but the airline also has flights between Japanese cities. Click the “Domestic Flights” tab at the top of the page to search for flights and view a route map. You must call to make a reservation
For hitchhiking …
BNet Research Center
has a database of millions of articles, including this one by Ian Perlman about hitchhiking in Japan; Perlman has lived in Japan for more than a decade and leads excursions around the country for World Expeditions
. The piece was written in 1990, but its cultural insights and advice for items to bring with you on the road remain relevant today.
is a portal for hitchhiking and road culture, and includes a section on hitchhiking in Japan. The page begins with general Japanese cultural information, and continues with specific advice and insight on hitching a ride.
For car rental …
helps you make a car rental reservation and plan your car pick-up and return directly through this site. Also find out service rates.
Japan is immensely popular among travelers of all ages, interests, and budgets, and is vigorously ... read more »
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