To start with, you can download one of the best Apps for finding the cheapest airline tickets and hotels. If you are looking for a more economical place to stay simply visit Vrbo's Vacation Rentals, or Hostel In Japan which can direct you to hostels for example in Tokyo with prices as low as 1,600 yen per night in city center.
Traveling Between Cities In Japan
Japan's excellent Shinkansen network means that flying is usually more of a luxury than a necessity. That being said, flying remains the most practical mode of reaching Japan's outlying islands, most notably for connections from the mainland to Hokkaido and Okinawa.
Highway buses (kosoku bus - 高速バス) are an inexpensive alternative to trains for long distance travel in Japan. While it’s not as convenient as the Shinkansen, highway buses are an easy way to keep travel costs down in Japan. In addition, they offer many overnight bus services, that can save time and accommodation costs as well, which is another advantage over railways.
WILLER Express Buses & Reservation
WILLER Express (ウィラー・エクスプレス) is a leading discount bus operator with a wide network spanning almost the entire country. Willer Express offers online reservations for interregional bus travel, not only for Willer buses, but also for many buses of other companies.
It is one of the most well-known bus operators for foreign travelers as their website has an easy online reservation page in English and several other languages. The booking can be done by phone as well.
Payment for tickets can be made by Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express, and also at certain convenience stores; Lawson, FamilyMart, Ministop, Circle K Sunkus, and Seicomart.
Unlike some bus companies, WILLER Express have a dynamic pricing model, meaning fares are based on the time of day, whether it's a daytime or overnight bus, the type of seating on the bus, and how far in advance the ticket is purchased.
As a welcome gift and an introduction to WILLER Express, those who are visiting Tokyo by air, can travel between Narita Airport and Tokyo using Narita Airport Shuttle for only 1,000 yen if it is only booked earlier.
You can book bus tickets as a guest or choose to register and become a WILLER member. WILLER members earn WILLER Points that can be used for discounts and receive special online discount coupons. Registered members also save time as information is saved so it does not have to be typed in again when booking trips in the future.
In addition to highway bus tickets WILLER Express is offering various tours to popular destinations. You can also book a bus and hotel as a set plan at a more reasonable price than booking separately.
Japan Bus Pass
WILLER Express' major strong point for foreigners, is the Japan Bus Pass, which offers discounted bus travel all across the WILLER network. This pass is a great offer for low budget travelers who are willing to spend some nights on a bus.
Japan Bus Pass is available not only for international travelers who visit Japan, but also for non-Japanese living in Japan and international students. Obviously, visitors can purchase the pass even after arriving in Japan. Just choose any 3, 5, or 7 days within two months from purchase, and travel within Japan (excluding Hokkaido and Okinawa) with unlimited ride pass. As the travel days do not have to be consecutive, it is a truly convenient and economical way to travel.
Japan Bus Pass is similar to Japan Rail Pass, which is also popular with tourists and offers unlimited rail travel across all routes of the six Japan Railways Group firms.
While it may take a little bit more planning than Shinkansen, if used effectively, the Japan Bus Pass can reduce the cost of transportation to very low levels. Compare the cost of a classic itinerary for the Golden Route (Tokyo - Hiroshima - Kyoto - Tokyo):
Japan Bus Pass Validity:
You can keep your small bag on the overhead rack, and large suitcases in the luggage trunk. Usually, there is a limit of one or two large pieces of luggage per passenger. Most buses have on-board restrooms and/or make regular restroom breaks along the way.
Premium buses are also available which naturally the more luxurious the more expensive but even at the top range, you’re still paying less money than you would for a Shinkansen ticket.
Make sure to confirm the location of bus terminals and stops before completing your reservation. Most highway buses start and finish their journeys at or near major stations, but some are located in inconvenient areas along the highway.
All details will be included in the confirmation email you receive when you book a ticket online. WILLER provides the map URL of the boarding location in the reservation confirmation email. By clicking the URL and using Google Map function you can search your way to the correct boarding location. Find your bus at the bus stop and show the reservation confirmation email to the bus driver to get on the bus. There is no boarding ticket.
Make sure to arrive at the boarding location at least 15 minutes before departure time listed in the reservation confirmation email. The bus will depart exactly as scheduled and will not wait for any late customers. WILLER’s FAQs would answer all you need to know.
With new routes and further innovations in comfort and convenience being added every year, Highway buses are not only an economical way of traveling, but can be the best choice to enjoy the beautiful scenery and feel the real Japan.