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Transportation (Japan)

We use a variety of transportation to operate your itinerary at the best pace and to give you an authentic travel experience so you are not always ‘removed’ from the locals.


Our coaches are comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles, although they may be less spacious than coaches in Australia and New Zealand. Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory by law in Japan.


Tokyo is a mega-metropolis so congestion and traffic jams are normal on main streets during commuting time. However, because the train or subway is the primary choice of the Japanese, the traffic is usually not too bad. In suburban cities, where local transport is more limited, there is regular congestion on main roads during rush hour in the morning and evening. Vehicles in Japan are left hand drive and there are modern roads throughout the country.

Please note that there is heavy traffic on highways during the Golden Week Holiday, Obon festival and New Year’s holiday. Please keep in mind that major events or holidays and new construction projects create traffic that can interfere with your tour and meal times. Your National Escort/Local Guides will do their utmost to avoid possible delays, changes or in rare cases, cancellations to sections of your itinerary.


Japan’s travel infrastructure is among the most advanced in the world, with an extensive and highly efficient rail network. The trains are clean, comfortable and incredibly punctual. Delays are a rare occurrence.

Bullet Trains

Japan’s modern travel structure is symbolised by the futuristic bullet trains (shinkansen) that travel at a colossal 200 miles an hour. Seats booked are ‘2nd class reserved’. All trains have moveable seats, which will generally be turned in the direction of travel, but you can move them around to face each other if you wish. Trains stop at each station for a couple of minutes only, so boarding and disembarking will need to be done quickly and efficiently. Train platforms are well marked with what carriage stops where, and there are even lines marked for where you should queue for the door. Many trains do not have a buffet car and whilst there is a food cart that passes through regularly we recommend taking your own snacks and drinks. Carriages are fully air-conditioned and have western bathroom facilities.

Limited Express Trains

The Limited Express trains do not reach the speeds of the bullet train by a long shot, but they stop at only the biggest, most popular stations and are therefore the fastest of the normal-speed trains. Day trains only stop for a few minutes at each stop, so you must be ready to leave the train when it stops at your station. Limited Express trains will normally have Western style toilets.

Pack for the train: Luggage space is very limited on all trains so we use a luggage forwarding service on our group tours, meaning that your luggage gets picked up from your hotel and delivered (usually the next day) to your next hotel. Therefore, you should bring a small overnight bag to carry whatever you need until the following day. There will be a note on your final itinerary as well as the Tour Dossier for which days this applies to.

At time of writing, forwarding your luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto costs 1,900 Yen. This is included on our group tours, however, if you wish to use this service on your private tour/extension, please speak to your guide.

Keeping valuables safe on the train: Carry all valuables with you at all times.

Luggage Forwarding ‘Takuhaibin’ 宅配便

Japan has a convenient and trusted luggage forwarding service called Takuhaibin or Takkyubin (pronounced Ta-Q-Bin) used to avoid carrying heavy luggage onto crowded trains that have limited storage space. This nationwide service will transport your luggage from one hotel to the next, usually by the following day (allow an extra day for islands such as Okinawa and Hokkaido). The price is dependent on the weight and size of the suitcase and the destination it being sent to, but prices tend to average around ¥2,000.00 per suitcase. Look out for the Yellow circle logo with black cat, which is the symbol for the most widespread Takuhaibin company called Yamato Transport.

You may wish to forward your luggage the morning before you leave, so that your luggage will be awaiting your arrival at your next hotel. For either option, you will need to pack a small overnight bag with you. If you are forwarding your luggage to the airport, please allow adequate time for it to arrive prior to your flight.

For Group Tours, any luggage forwarding required is already included. Your National Guide will advise you when you will need to pack an overnight bag, and you will find this information in your final itinerary as well.

For Private Tours and Short Stay Extensions - Please speak to the reception at any of your hotels and they will advise further details including how to use the service, price and approximate transportation time. If your hotel does not offer Takuhaibin, any convenience store nearby will be able to offer the same service.

Hotel reception desks tend to be quite busy in the morning, so we recommend you do the required paper work the night before so you can just drop your bag off in the morning.

For rural areas such as Yudanaka, your luggage may take up to two days to arrive. If you only have a two-night stay, we suggest you pack a small suitcase or bag for those two nights and forward your main luggage to the following hotel.

The following items are prohibited in your luggage for the Takuhaibin service:

  • Any currency, valuable paper, credit and debit cards
  • Toxic or hazardous materials
  • Knives, swords and firearms
  • Manuscripts, film tapes, original drawings
  • Fireworks, flammable goods of any kind
  • Any items that may cause damage to other luggage
  • Total luggage worth more than 300,000yen

Please ensure you do not leave any valuable items in your bag and that you carry your passport with you at all times.


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