As I have mentioned in my previous post, the best way to get around the big city of Japan like Tokyo or Osaka is by trains, unfortunately trains are not cheap too. They might be fast and safe but they also cost a lot especially for tourist.
For a salary(wo)man like me, the cheapest way to go is to get a monthly pass from the nearest station to your house and nearest station of your workplace. Currently, I am paying around 6300yen ($64) a month. The good thing about this monthly pass is that it is unlimited in between those 2 stations. You can get on or off the stations without paying extra charge. If you go beyond , then it will be computed from the last station of your pass, so it is still cheap.
But what about for tourist? Check out the list of train ticket type that you might use.
- Japan Rail Pass. If you are planning to travel all over Japan using the Shinkansen(Bullet Trains), then this pass will save a lot of money. A single trip from Osaka -> Tokyo on a Shinkansen cost about $140 one way. So if you are planning to travel between Osaka <-> Nagoya <->Tokyo , you don’t need to worry about paying extra. It will even allow you to go to Hokkaido or Fukuoka as long as the pass is still valid. Unfortunately for me, this pass can only be purchased if you have a short-term visa.
- City Passes. If you are only thinking of staying within one region , like maybe around Osaka or Tokyo area only then the day passes within the city will save you a lot. Osaka, Tokyo , Kyoto and Kobe have their own set of day passes and city passes. Each train company also have their own kinds of tickets, example the Toei Line in Tokyo, have a special promo called “one coin day“, where you can buy a day pass for Toei Line for only 500 yen ($5). Another one is the Hankyu-Hanshin one day pass. The date on the English site is not yet updated but it is still available.
- Seishun 18 Ticket. Since I cannot used the Rail Pass, I usually use this pass. This is a seasonal ticket which gave you unlimited use of JR lines all over Japan. Unfortunately though, only local trains. Trains like Shinkansen or Limited Train requires extra charge. The ticket is not exclusive to the buyer so anybody can use the ticket as long as it is within the validity.
These are just the 3 major ways of traveling around Japan the cheaper way. As I have written in #2, each Train company have their own ticket promotions so make sure you check it out before traveling, although majority of them are written in Japanese.