Cost of touring by public transportation in Japan - Cheapest option

by Coelho - TripleLights travel specialist

Touring by car or public transportation. Which is better in Japan?

What type of transportation to use in Japan is a question many tourists ask. In most parts of the world, it is normal to do tours by car or bus, but in Japan, the most common way of touring and exploring the main cities is by using the efficient Japanese public transportation system. But what is the cost of that?

Public transportation 

First, let's establish here: 100 yen is roughly $1 USD
Within Tokyo or the largest cities of Japan, assuming you aren't going on day trips, you typically don't spend more than 1000 to 1500 Yen daily on transport. If you travel more than that as a visitor to the city, you are likely trying to hit too many places in one day.

You will mostly be traveling by subway within the city unless you want to go to another city. In that case, you will need to take a bus or a shinkansen. buses are cheaper but slower, and the Shinkansen (bullet train) is a lot faster but can be a bit expensive too, with prices around 10.000 yen depending on the destination.

Most of the city subway (Tokyo Metro for example) tickets cost around 100–200 yen for a single trip, but the price varies by distance and may often be higher if you are traveling far. Buses also have a similar price range.

In most major cities, you can buy a day pass, which gives you unlimited travel for 24 hours for around 800 yen. It's worth it if you are trying visiting many places in one day and you can buy these passes either from the ticket machine or at the ticket gate with a subway operator.If your plan is to take the bus to travel around the city, the prices are similar

Note:  Keep in mind that if you are going on a tour, you will need to bring extra cash for your guide's transportation fee as well, which makes using public transportation even more interesting. 

IC card

IC cards are rechargeable cards that can be used to pay for many purposes. You can pay for your subway, train or bus and you can even use it to pay for restaurants, shop in the Kombini (convenience stores) and buy drinks from the vending machine.

Buying an IC card will not help you to save money, but for sure will make you save time! It is much quicker to buy a card and charge it once, than having to buy a ticket every time you need to move from place-to-place. The best part is that after you are done with your IC card, you can return it to any JR operator and ask for a cash-back. They will return the money you have in the IC card and also give you back the 500 yen you paid to get it.

The major IC cards in Japan are Suica, Pasmo, Icoca, Pitapa, Toica, Manaca, Kitaca, Sugoca, Nimoca and Hayakaken. They cover virtually the same things (although the Icoca card is also valid on non-JR transportation in Okayama and Hiroshima), so basically, the only difference is where they can be purchased and refunded.

Cost of touring by public transportation in Japan - Cheapest option

How to get your IC card:
For this tutorial, we'll use the example of a Suica card.

  1. Find an IC card machine. It is the same as the one you use to buy the train ticket. Look for the logo of an IC card company n the machine (see in the image above) and go to that machine. 
  2. Touch the “Purchase New Suica” button.
  3. Select the Suica
  4. Insert the amount of money you want to put on the card. Note that for the first time, 500 yen will be the cost of the card (deposit). Therefore, if you put 2,000, the card itself will have only 1,500.
  5. You can use the Suica and charge it when the amount is low.

It is the same process for every machine so don't worry! it's easy to get yours.

The IC cards are valid on almost all trains, subways and buses in Japan, except the Limited express trains, Shinkansen and airport and Highway Buses. These require their own tickets.

JR Pass

If you are going to travel to other cities, you also have the option of buying a Japan Rail Pass.

The JR Pass is a special rail pass in Japan designed to allow tourists to have unlimited travel on JR services. This includes some – but not all – of the trains and buses in Japan.


See here the prices of the JR pass as of 2017:

Type:
Green
Ordinary
Duration
Adult
Child
Adult
Child
7-day
38,880 YEN
19,440 YEN
29,110 YEN
14,550 YEN
14-day
62,950 YEN
31,470 YEN
46,390 YEN
23,190 YEN
21-day
81,870 YEN
40,930 YEN
59,350 YEN
29,670 YEN

You can learn everything about the JR pass in this article: JR Rail Pass - Everything you need to know.


I hope this article helped shed some light on the costs of public transportation in Japan was useful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact Triplelights for anything you may need regarding your trip to Japan.

Make your trip the best. 

Everywhere in Tokyo have something different, it is almost impossible to walk through the Tokyo streets without seeing something new or feeling like in movies, but you have your interests and some things can disappoint you if you don't go to the right place.

Due to this, it is good to be with people that understand the place.  You are in your trip and want to take the best from the country in your short time there. For this, we recommend you to contact one of our guides. They can orientate you and you will certainly go to the right places, save your time and have a better experience. But if you think that it is terrible to make trips with guides and have to follow a schedule,  we present you the differential of TripleLights, you can customizable your itinerary following your interests and also go on your time, without needing rushing. Furthermore, you don't need to be in a huge group, you can only with the people you are traveling and that you care, learning more about the culture and history of the place. 

But you probably think that all this will be so expensive, right? No.

TripleLights offers private guides to make customizable itineraries, tours to guide you to the best spots and private cars to you to be able to navigate Narita and Japan without depending on public transportation, all these for an affordable price.

Watch the following video to know more. 

Blogs about transportation

Is It Easy to Use Public Transportation in Tokyo?

How to Take Public Transportation in Tokyo?

Transportation in the Country side and far-away areas of Japan

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Japan, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Japan


19 Sep 2017

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews

“ Already did thud ”

Excellent
3 hours ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: Junko

I already wrote a review.
read more

“ Wonderful Osaka walking tour ”

Excellent
4 hours ago Traveler: Katharina -   Tour Guide: Toru

Toru was very informative and flexible throughout the walking tour. He did a great job guiding our large group.
read more

“ Kyoto tour ”

Excellent
5 hours ago Traveler: Ricky -   Tour Guide: Aimu

Aimu is amazing, she covered all of our locations in perfect time and gave us information and the history of all the locations. She took us to a very nice restaurant for lunch and it was amazing. Aimu is very nice, intelligent and fun. I highly recommend Aimu to be your tour guide and your day will be amazing.
read more

“ 3 days with Akira ”

Excellent
12 hours ago Traveler: Sheah -   Tour Guide: AKIRA

This is a summary for our 3 days with Akira. He was always waiting for us in our lobby. Always prompt. He had planned an itinerary that would make the best use of our time in Tokyo. When it was raining one day he was adaptable and changed our plans to an equally enjoyable experience. one day we were walking and passed an ad for the digital museum. He described it to us and asked if we wanted to...
read more

“ Knowledgeable, Accommodating and Polite Guide ”

Excellent
13 hours ago Traveler: Carl -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

Toshi was very considerate and accommodating to alter his standard o day tour dovetail with another tour we had already booked. He also went out of his way to find elevators and escalators to help my wife navigate metro.
read more

“ Extensive visit to kyoto ”

Excellent
20 hours ago Traveler: Janet -   Tour Guide: Masaki

Masaki made our visit to Kyoto memorable. He was flexible with our itinerary, had great presentation skills and spoke fluent English. He helped us make restaurant reservations for my birthday. We enjoyed learning about the culture and history of Japan from him. If I go back to Kyoto I would hire him again.
read more

“ Super Fun Tour of Akihabra ”

Excellent
20 hours ago Traveler: Jennifer -   Tour Guide: Arnold

I waited until I was completely home from our trip to officially write Arnold a glowing review. He is an absolutely fabulous person. From our first interactions online setting up our time together to the day we arrived he has and had been nothing short of super attentive and helpful. A little background... we booked 6 hours with him... as we were coming from another tour in Japan and had...
read more

“ Great Tour Guide ”

Excellent
21 hours ago Traveler: REGINA -   Tour Guide: Atsuko

Atsuko met me and my son in our hotel lobby, she was on time and very friendly. She helped us figure out the train system and took us to the areas that we wanted to go. I mentioned I was interested in the Shibuya crossing and she added the location to our itinerary. During our tour, my son lost one of the anime books he purchased, so she made an extra stop so I could purchase another book for him....
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started