How to ride the Shinkansen and Public Buses in Japan?

The “Shinkansen” bullet trains provide a link between large cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. It is a high-speed train that runs at a speed in excess of 200 km/h. The Shinkansen currently has a total of 7 routes, and it is extremely popular among foreign travelers who regard riding the Shinkansen as one of the must try experiences while in Japan. Although flying by plane is quicker and more efficient, it is well worth while using the Shinkansen just for the experience. Let’s try the bento lunchboxes as you enjoy the beautiful landscape from the train!

To go sightseeing in major cities, using public buses is one of the transport options you can use. However, there are advantages and disadvantages.

For groups and families, better option is to use a charter vehicle to go from one sightseeing destination to the next if you want to do it without any stress. In this post, we will explain how to ride the Shinkansen and the reason why you should use charter vehicles for your sightseeing trip!

■ How to ride the Shinkansen

In Japan, there are many types of Shinkansen to choose from depending on your destination. In addition, Shinkansen has “all stops” and “express” services which will affect the travel time greatly depending on which service you choose. Here, we will introduce various Shinkansen options from some of the main stations in big cities that will be the base for your sightseeing trip.

■ Main Shinkansen Stations

【Kanto Area】 Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station, Shin-Yokohama Station (Kanagawa Prefecture), Omiya (Saitama Prefecture), etc.

【Chubu Area】 Nagoya Station

【Kansai Area】 Kyoto Station, Shin-Osaka Station, Shin-Kobe Station, etc.


■ Types of Shinkansen

If you’re traveling between Tokyo and Nagoya, Kyoto or Shin-Osaka, let’s use the “NOZOMI” service on the “Tokaido Shinkansen” route.

・ Tokyo (Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama) ⇔ Nagoya: Time: about 90 minutes, fare: about 11,000 yen

・ Tokyo (Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama) ⇔ Kyoto: Time: about 120 minutes, fare: about 12,000 yen

Tokyo (Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama) ⇔ Shin Osaka: Time: about 2 hours 30 minutes, fare: 13,000 yen

There are also services like “HIKARI” and “KODAMA” that stops at each station, but it will take more than double the time to get to your destination although the fare will be cheaper.

■ How do I get on the Shinkansen?

1. Buy a ticket

You must purchase a ticket especially for the Shinkansen. Strictly speaking, the Shinkansen fare will be the sum of “Basic fare” and “Express fare” for your route. Shinkansen tickets can be purchased from the Midori no Madoguchi (Ticket Office) at JR’s main stations. You cannot purchase them at Metro stations or stations for local trains, so please be careful. You can also purchase them via ticket vending machine, but you may find it a little confusing.

2. Choose the time of departure

You can choose the departure time when purchasing a ticket. It is ideal to be on the Shinkansen 5 minutes before departure, let’s choose a train that leaves you with some time to spare.

3. Choose your seat

The shinkansen has three types of seats to choose from: Reserved Seats, Green Seats and Non-reserved Seats.

Most people generally purchase Reserved Seats. Although Non-reserved Seats are set at a lower price than Reserved Seats, you may not be able to secure a seat and end up standing when the train is congested. The regular cars and Non-reserved Seat are arranged in rows of 5 seats, with 3 seats on one side and 2 on the other. The train will generally start to fill up from the popular window seats. If you are traveling in a group or couple, you should buy your tickets in advance, as the seats you want may not be available on the day. The more spacious “Green Car” has rows of 4 seats, with 2 seats on each side allowing more room for each passenger. There is also a foot stand, so you can relax during your ride on the Shinkansen. On the Shinkansen, staff will come around with a trolley to sell snacks and drinks during the trip.

■ Did you know? JAPAN RAIL PASS for Foreigners:

Japan Rail Pass is a special rail pass issued by Japan’s major railway company JR for overseas tourists. You can take unlimited rides on the JR network for a fixed period, including the Shinkansen (excluding Nozomi and Mizuho services) and ordinary trains. It is suitable for people who want to travel around Japan by train. As there are special terms and conditions of purchase, please check in advance if you are interested in using it.

■ When is Shinkansen congested?

For the Shinkansen, we recommend that you purchase tickets for reserved seats in advance. Evenings and Friday-Sunday are especially busy with business people, so the tickets may become sold out.

■ Meeting Place in main stations

【Tokyo Station】

The charter car meet staff will usually be waiting in front of the ticket gate (exit) with a board with your name on it. After getting off the Shinkansen and leaving the shinkansen exit, you need to go further to the ticket gate exit of Tokyo Station.

As Tokyo Station has multiple exits, it will be better to check in advance.

NOTE* For our company meeting staff (Japan Land Service) will waiting at the platform where in front of the car you arrival. Once you get off the train you will find our staff with your name-board and we will escort you to vehicle.


【Kyoto Station】

For Kyoto Station, the easy meeting point will be just outside the Central Exit (Karasuma Exit/Front Exit). Please be careful as there are several exits.

NOTE* For our company meeting staff (Japan Land Service) will waiting at the platform where in front of the car you arrival. Once you get off the train you will find our staff with your name-board and we will escort you to vehicle.


【Shin-Osaka Station】

In Shin Osaka Station, the Shinkansen platforms are on the 4th floor and the ticket gates are on the 3rd floor. As there are two exits, you should check the locations in advance.

NOTE* For our company meeting staff (Japan Land Service) will waiting at the platform where in front of the car you arrival. Once you get off the train you will find our staff with your name-board and we will escort you to vehicle.


■ How to ride the bus

In major cities in Japan, there are many public bus services as well as trains and metros. In Tokyo metropolitan area, you can generally go to any destination within Tokyo at 210 yen. In suburban Tokyo area and in Kyoto and Osaka areas, the fare is calculated by adding the additional fare depending on distance travelled (usually under 100 yen) to the basic fare.

[For flat rate fares (Tokyo metropolitan area, etc.)]

When you get on the bus from the front door, put 210 yen into the fare box in front of the driver. If you have an IC card (prepaid transport card), you can also use it instead.

【If the fare changes according to the distance (Kyoto, etc.)】

When you get on the bus, take a ticket number from the ticket dispenser. When you get off, check the panel that displays the list of fares applicable at the front of the bus, and pay the fare corresponding to the number on your ticket.

【Payment must be in small change】

You cannot use credit cards on the bus. You can break down notes into coins on the bus, but it is easier to exchange notes into coins in advance and pay the correct amount.

■ Charter vehicles are more convenient than public buses for sightseeing!

Although Japan has extensive bus networks, each destination often has several routes you can take, making it difficult to understand the best way to get there. In some cases, it may be necessary to ask several people to find the correct bus stop for your destination.

In addition, in more remote areas it is not uncommon for the next bus to be 20 minutes or 30 minutes away if you just miss the bus you wanted to catch. The buses can be congested in the morning and evening commute hours, which may cause you some stress.

If you prefer to travel around efficiently at your own pace, we recommend that you use a charter car for your trip.

■Charter vehicle & charter bus service

※Airport Transfer:

※Private Tour: