Public transportation in Japan are extremely convenient, similar to Singapore it brings to the tourist places like Akihabara, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Ginza and more, unless you don’t like city area and prefer country side places however you will still get to there without much of a problem (with a sense of direction)
Japan basically is an island, to get there most preferred transportation would be aeroplane. There are a few company also allows travellers to get to Japan by cruise and ferry but of course it’s gonna time consuming even though it is cheap. You can go for either whichever you suits your preference.
Both Haneda and Narita airport provides easy access transportation to the city center. Of course Haneda is located nearer to the city compared to Narita Airport. We decided to take the limousine bus to avoid transiting for taking the train. The limousine bus stop at Shinjuku station where we stayed, and there were personnel helping with our luggages up and down the bus with is very kind and helpful.
You can check out the Airport Limousine website to find out the bus schedule and your alighting point as well as directions to get to the bus terminal.
Be prepared to walk a lot! There’s so many things to explore in the well-known touristy places. It is good to have a physical copy of the area map of the places you are visiting just in case you can’t find internet connection and usually it’s difficult to purchase a sim card in Japan but you can rent a pocket wifi or rent a phone as well.
The most asked question for travellers would be, should they get the JR Rail Pass or not. It all depends on your itinerary. You need to decide whether are you taking the Shinkansen or not and how long is the distance and determine the amount of money you need to spend on the train ticket. For example, if you enter Japan in Tokyo and exit from Osaka and you only travel with shinkansen once, my advice would be you don’t have to spend for the JR Rail Pass. Why? Because one way ticket is cheaper than spending twice the amount buying the JR Rail Pass when you only use it once. If you are using it for two way then it is advisable to get it. But if you are travelling from Hokkaido all the way to Okinawa, then you should get it because the distance is longer and so is the cost for one ticket. I hope you get the theory. And if you are around Kyoto and wanted to get to Osaka you don’t need to ride the Shinkansen, there are other cheaper railway that can get you from Kyoto to Osaka within an hour. These two places isn’t that far from each other.
Always sit on the right side facing forward, on a clear day Mount Fuji can be seen on the right side of the bullet train.
The Japan Railway map can be quite confusing but it will easy as long as you study them carefully. I wrote down the direction and the train lines of the places I wanted to visit from to get to another so that it will be easier to ask people where is the train line instead of how to get there as there are a few lines that can get you to your destination.
Tips for using the public transportation : try to avoid peak period where people are rushing to work especially in the morning. The human traffic is no joke here. You’ll be push inside the train like a sardine sandwich.
Signs are available in English and it’s easy to get around. If you want to ask people for direction, try to look for people who are around middle age and dressed formal. Those are the people who mostly likely knows how to speak English. I tried asking high school youngsters and I got ignored rudely without politely turn me down and tell me they don’t understand English.
Purchase the Pasmo card for easy access of the public transportation. The Pasmo card is like the MRT or EzLink card in Singapore. You can purchase the card and topup credits in it and tap in tap out from trains to buses. There are other discounted tickets as well such as the 18 seishun ticket that allows you to ride for 5 consecutive days for a person or use for 5 person for a day.
If you have luggages with you but you can’t check in within a few hours time? Most train stations (touristy ones) provides lockers for luggages. Price range about 300yen – 700yen (depends on the locker size) you can keep your luggage there, make yourself comfortable to walk around. More major train station e.g. Kyoto Station, they have a luggage store room that you only need to pay about 500yen for any size luggage, make sure you redeem it back within time limit.
I hope this helps you to get around in Japan. Thank you for reading, come back again soon!