Chubu on the Cheap
Added In: Places to Go › Transportation
Address: all over Chubu
For a country about the size of California, travel is surprisingly expensive in Japan. However, there are little-known deals that can save okane for more important things, like beer or sun block. Despite its name, the Seishun Juu Hachi Kippu (Youth 18 Ticket) gives anyone five days of unlimited travel on JR lines for 11500 yen. Five people can use one ticket simultaneously, or one person can travel for five days, and those days do not have to be in succession. What's the catch? Travel is limited to normal and kaisoku trains, and tickets can only be used during three designated periods each year. Available in July, the next period of use is from mid-July to mid-September. JR offers the Aozora Furii Kippu (Blue Sky Free Ticket) for travel around the Nagoya area. This unlimited travel ticket costs 2500 yen (1250 for children), includes access to the express trains and home liners for a surcharge, and can be used on any Saturday, Sunday or public holiday. With the same rules as the Blue Sky Ticket, the Shizuoka Chiku Yasumi Norihoudai Kippu (Shizuoka Area Holiday All-you-can-ride Ticket) allows for free travel on the Tokaido line between Toyohashi and Atami, and the surrounding area for 2600 yen (1300 for children).
The Ise-ji Furii Kippu (Ise Path Free Ticket) is a three-day pass that allows for free travel between Matsuzaka and Toba, and also provides return fare to the station where the ticket was purchased. From Nagoya, a ticket for one person is 7500 yen; two people, 9500 yen; three people, 11500 yen; and four people can travel on the same ticket for 13500 yen. The ticket also includes 6000 yen in taxi vouchers for use from the Matsuzaka, Taki and Ise Stations (fixed at 6000 yen per ticket, not per person). Other departure stations are possible but prices vary; and once again, express train use will require a surcharge. Meitetsu offers one- and two-day unlimited ride tickets on their lines (3000 yen for adults, 1500 for children for one-day pass; 3800/1900 yen for two-day) but the one-day pass limits travel between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Kintetsu also has various offers for travel to the Kinki region. Arrival and departure times, and complete itineraries in English for domestic travel anywhere in Japan can be accessed at grace.hyperdia.com. All rail and no road doesn’t always make for the cheapest mode of transportation.
The extensive network of Japanese buses should not be overlooked, as often they can be the quickest and cheapest way to get somewhere. Going to Nara by Meitetsu Bus costs 4000 yen round-trip and takes two and a half hours. By train, the same commute takes about three hours and will cost at least 3200 yen one-way. For longer trips, an overnight bus might be perfectly suitable. These economic rides give the savvy traveller a night’s accommodation and travel in the same price, with more room and recline than a domestic flight. Nagoya to Sendai, for example, is around 10000 yen one-way by Meitetsu bus. More information about buses can be found at meitetsu-bus.co.jp or nishinihonjrbus.co.jp (both Japanese only sites). As well as the JR and Meitetsu bus services, check out 123 Bus www.123bus.net (English available).