Travel

Airports

Tokyo

Narita International Airport is located 66 kilometres from Tokyo’s city centre. There are two main transportation choices into the centre - a limousine bus service and the Narita Express Train. Taxis are available but are very expensive.

The Limousine Bus leaves every 10 to 15 minutes from outside the departure hall for major Tokyo hotels and the Tokyo City Air Terminal (TCAT). Tickets are available from a booth in front of the exit from the customs hall and takes about 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

The Narita Express Train (N’EX) runs every 30 minutes in peak to Tokyo, Yokohama and Shinjuku stations. It takes 53 minutes one-way to Tokyo and 90 minutes to Yokohama. Tickets can be purchased at the Japan Rail (JR) counter at the airport and all seating is reserved and JR Pass holders can use their pass to reserve tickets.

Osaka

From Kansai International Airport to Osaka city, transportation options are:

  • Nankai train, which takes 29 minutes.
  • JR services including the JR Kanku Kaisoku (Kansai Express) Train which takes 63 minutes from the airport to Osaka Station and JR Haruka Kansai Airport Express which takes around 40 minutes from the airport to Nishikujo Station.
  • Limousine Bus, which takes approximately 65 minutes and stops at many of the major hotels.

Taxis are not recommended for travel to and from the airport due to the extremely high cost. Passengers travelling overseas from the Kansai International Airport are required to pay the Passenger Services Facilities Charge (PSFC) in cash (credit cards are not accepted) at a vending machine prior to passing through customs.

Other airports include:

  • Fukuoka International Airport is located only four kilometres from Tenjin Central Business District. There are three domestic terminals and an international terminal located separately, so check in advance which terminal you will depart or arrive from. Fukuoka is currently not serviced by any direct flights from Australia, however, there are convenient interconnecting domestic flights. A taxi from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station (main train station for Fukuoka) takes around 10 minutes and to Tenjin around 20 minutes, both are inexpensive.
  • Nagoya: The most reasonable way of getting between Nagoya and the airport is to use the Meitetsu Airport Limousine Bus. The bus leaves approximately every 10 to 15 minutes from the Meitetsu Bus Station, which is located adjacent to Nagoya Station.
  • Sendai’s international airport is within taxi distance from Sendai’s CBD and there is an airport bus which takes around 40 minutes to reach Sendai Station.
  • Sapporo’s Chitose Airport it is around 40 minutes from the airport to Sapporo Station by JR New Chitose Airport Express and departs at 15 minute intervals. Buses leave the airport terminal building for major hotels, under normal traffic conditions, it takes about 70 minutes to Sapporo. Taxis to and from the airport are not recommended as it can be a long and very expensive trip. Numerous flights connect Sapporo with the rest of Japan daily.

Ground transport

Japan could rightly claim to have one of the most efficient and comprehensive transport networks in the world. Trains, buses and taxis form the backbone of the network. Japanese transport prides itself on running on time.

Within the city limits, the train or subway is the most efficient means of travel. Despite most train services stopping at midnight, they are convenient, readily accessible and cheap. It is worth obtaining subway and overhead train maps in English and visitors who plan to use the subway system extensively are recommended to purchase prepaid subway tickets.

As train stations in Japan have many stairs and limited storage space, small, compact luggage, preferably on wheels, is recommended for your visit. Should you need to transport large parcels between cities or out to the airport, the parcel delivery service or ‘takkyubin’ offers a convenient alternative to carrying parcels. Most hotels and convenience stores can assist you with arranging a takkyubin pick-up.

Japan Rail (JR) Passes allow free access to all JR train, bus and ferry services including the Bullet Train (shinkansen). For long distance travel, the best alternative to air travel is the Bullet Train. As the cost of the Bullet Train does not differ significantly from air travel, it is recommended that business travellers purchase a JR Pass in Australia from a travel agent before they arrive. JR Passes are valid for seven, 14 and 21 days and is a very economical way to travel around Japan. The following sites provide timetable and logistics information:

In winter, JR trains and various buses are available for direct transfers to the major ski resorts including Niseko and Tomamu.

For first-time visitors, taxis may be easier to use for short journeys. Be aware that taxi doors open and close automatically. Driving a car in Japan is not recommended, as streets are generally narrow, confusing and crowded.

Japanese tend to get going late in the morning, so avoid the rushes and go early.

Hotels

Many travel agents in Australia have access to reasonable cost accommodation.

The Japan National Tourist Organization offer further information on accommodation. Serviced apartments are a relatively new phenomenon and are mainly available in Tokyo.

Dining

There are many convenience stores and cheaper restaurants located all over the major cities with a good range of Japanese and Western style foods. Lunch is relatively cheap compared to dinner, even served at the same restaurant. Many of the restaurants in major cities and tourist spots have menus in English. Avoid restaurants where menu prices are not displayed – the prices could be particularly high.

Tipping

Tipping is neither mandatory nor common practice.