Travel in Japan can be rough. Especially with packed trains, packed streets and so on and so forth. We've got some information that might just make your trips easier...no guarantees though!
|Rent a car
|Airlines and Airports
Airport Limousine Bus
24 hour rental services, minimum rental of six hours. A good alternative to owning a car, cheaper and more convenient. The bigger companies have a nationwide network which means you can pick up a vehicle anywhere and drop it off anywhere. Reservations are usually made in Japanese. Charges start from around 8,100 yen, including insurance, for 6 hours plus consumption tax .
Sample rate: (Japaren) Corolla, 24 hr. 12,100 yen inc. insurance
Trains, Shinkansen (Bullet train)
What used to be Japan National Railways has now been privatized and split into four companies, but they all go by the name JR, or Japan Railways. The company serving Tokyo is called East Japan Railways.
JR trains can be identified by their color: the Yamanote line (loop line) has green coaches and circles the inner city to and from Tokyo station in about one hour. The Chuo line (central line) has orange coaches and cuts across the middle of the city from Tokyo station to Shinjuku, stopping at Kanda, Ochanomizu and Yotsuya and on to points west. The Sobu line comes in from Chiba, stops at Akihabara, Ochanomizu and then follows the same route as the Chuo line, making all local stops. Its coaches are yellow. The blue train is the Keihin-Tohoku line, which links Tokyo with Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures.
Subways - ten subway lines crisscross the city center, each identifiable again, by a color code. 3 of the lines are Toei lines (Asakusa, Mita and Shinjuku lines) and 7 are Eidan lines (Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho and Hanzomon lines). They all connect at some point with JR lines. There are also 18 private lines that connect Tokyo with the outer suburbs. In addition, there are 2 routes already partly opened but still under construction. These are, the Eidan Nanboku line which links Akabane and Meguro and the Toei Circle line No.12 which links Hikarigaoka and Shinjuku, due to be opened in the year 2000.
Trains run from around 5 a.m. to just after midnight.
There are different tickets for JR lines, EIDAN lines, and TOEI lines. Ticket vending machines accept coins, some accept 1,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen bills. Change is given with your ticket after you press the illuminated button corresponding to your fare. You can also get a Metro Card to buy tickets for Eidan lines. JR tickets can also be bought with Orange Cards, sold at the windows in JR stations in denominations of 1,000, 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000 yen. Many vending machines have a special slot for these cards. IO Cards are also convenient because you can go and board the train without having to go through the hassle of buying a ticket.
Fare maps are usually located above the vending machines. Some but not all stations have a list of fares and destinations in English. If unsure of the fare, you can buy the cheapest ticket and pay the excess at the fare adjustment window at your destination. If you use a certain route regularly, a train pass known as a "teiki", can cut traveling expenses by up to 50%.
Getting on the Right Train
Just follow the signs (in English) to your platform. Beside the tracks there are signs showing the train's next stop in each direction. Private lines have their own entrances and boarding areas. They may also have express, semi-express and local trains. A red sign on the front and sides of the train means it is an express, a blue sign usually means it is a semi-express, a plain black sign indicates a local train. If you do find yourself hurtling past your stop, the only thing to do is to get off at the next stop and go back on a local train.
Many stations, especially the subways, have more than one exit. Try to find the one nearest to where you want to go. For instance, at Ginza station the exit for the Sony Bldg. is C3. Often the exit is the basement of the place you want to get to. At Shibuya, the Hachiko (dog statue) exit, which is what you probably saw on TV as it is often taped to show the typical crowded Tokyo street, is the most central and convenient. These and the front of the Alta building in Shinjuku are popular places to meet.
Tel. in Shinkansen: 107
Once you get to know the route taken by a bus, you may find it more convenient and sometimes cheaper (flat fare around 210 yen) than a taxi or train. Buses make more frequent stops and so often take you closer to your final destination, and there is a closer view of the surroundings. Find out the number of the bus going to your destination and the name of the stop. Drop the exact fare in the box by the driver (change machine also available). You can also buy prepaid cards in denominations of 1000, 3000 and 5000 yen. Most buses, but not all, will have machines on the box where you drop in your fare for you to slide your card through. Before each stop there is a taped announcement of the name of the stop. If you are unsure, tell the driver the name of your stop and he will usually remind you to get off; otherwise have your destination written down in Japanese and show it to a passenger who will tell you. Doors are opened automatically by the driver.
If you do get lost, remember most routes pass by, or terminate at train stations. Or you can always get off and get on a bus going in the opposite direction. When you get used to bus travel, get a route map from a bookstore (maps for TOEI buses can obtained at your ward office) and explore the city.
There are also late night or "shinya" buses that run from 11 p.m. until about 1 a.m. Depending on the route, some buses may go as far as Chiba or Omiya. Fares for the local late night buses are usually double the normal fare. Routes going farther may cost as much as several thousand yen. Check the time tables at the bus stop or the local station for routes, times and fares.
Taxis can be flagged down on the street, boarded at a taxi stand on a main street or in front of a station, or called by telephone. A red light in the windscreen means the cab is available, a green light means it is on 30% extra night fare (11p.m. - 5a.m.) and no light means it is taken. Stand back as the rear door opens automatically. The driver will usually accept a maximum of four or five passengers.
The average fare starts at 660 yen for the first 2 kilometers, then 80 yen will be added for each 370 meters. In case of traffic jams, an additional 80 yen is charged for every minute and forty seconds. Example: Shibuya to Roppongi is 1200 yen in reasonable traffic.
Fares from Tokyo to:
Airlines and Airports
Haneda Airport is for domestic flights and for China Airlines. By monorail from JR Yamanote line Hamamatsucho station: 23 minutes, 470 yen. Airport bus direct to Haneda: 3,000 yen, 90 minutes.
Narita airport is for all other international flights. There are a number of ways to get there: Skyliner express train from Keisei Ueno station: 1 hour - 1,880 yen. Skyliner operates between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. with departures about every 30 minutes.
Telephone calls can be made from carriage 3.
Skyliner information: 3831-0131.
There is also a slower train on the same route which takes 90 minutes and costs 840 yen.
Airport Limousine Bus
From Tokyo City Air Terminal at Hakozaki, Nihonbashi. Some airlines have check-in counters at the TCAT. Check in is 3-4 hours before flight. The airport limousine bus also leaves, and goes to, many of the major hotels and train stations in Tokyo.
New express train service from Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Yokohama direct to the Narita airport terminal. All seats are reserved. Fares range from around 3,000 yen to 6,000 yen for green car seats. Check JR ticket reservation services for information. Reservations can be made one month in advance at JR Reservation Ticket Offices, Travel Service Centers (View Plaza), JR East Japan branch offices, or major travel agencies.
There is also "Sobu-Rapid Train" service to Narita airport that does not require reservations.
Lost and Found
Report lost items to the police as soon as possible. If you lose your wallet, cell phone, or anything that may be misused by other people, be sure to call up the appropriate companies to stop service as soon as possible. Lost items on public transportation are usually kept for two to five days. If they can identify the owner, they will usually contact you. Items lost on a taxi are usually kept at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Lost and Found Center.
JR(Tokyo Station) : 3231-1880
|Copyright by IMA Co., 1999|