If you want to visit many sightseeing areas, no matter what you do you're going to have to pay for transportation. For those of you who want to save money, why not try these? Here is information about special tickets and prices that may save you a few bucks on transportation.
1. The railway pass made for overseas travelers: JAPAN RAIL PASS
The JAPAN RAIL PASS (JR Pass) is a special pass that you can use on the 6 companies that fall under the purview of the JR Group, the company that manages most of the railways within Japan. It's made for overseas travelers, and during the period of eligibility, holders can ride all JR trains including regular, rapid-transit, express, limited express trains as well as some shinkansen as much as they want. There are two types, regular and Green (in which you can ride in the Green car on the shinkansen, similar to first class), and both of them have periods of eligibility of 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days. The price for a regular pass for 7 days starts at 29,110 JPY(incl. tax), but considering you can use most of the trains within Japan at that price, it is the most economical option available.
There are certain qualifications that one must meet to be able to buy the JAPAN RAIL PASS (for example, you must have a tourist visa; other visas will render the pass invalid), so make sure to check all the rules before you buy.
*The photo is of one example of a pass. The design changes depending on the travel agency or the year that you buy it.
2. Want to enjoy leisurely riding the rails? Seishun 18 Kippu
The Seishun 18 Kippu is a special pass that allows you to freely ride any regular and high-speed train part of the JR Group railways. Anyone can buy them, and 1 ticket (11,850 JPY (incl. tax)) is worth 5 credits. 1 credit is equal to 1 person being able to ride the trains as much as they want for one day. This can be used in various combinations, such as one person using it for 5 days, or 5 people using it for 1 day, making it very convenient for solo travelers and group travelers alike. The periods of validity (beginning of March to the beginning of April, the end of July to the beginning of September, and the beginning of December to the beginning of January) coincide with the long vacations in the Japanese school year, so it's a very popular pass with Japanese youth and train fans. (You can buy them a little bit in advance of the periods of validity.) This pass is recommended for people who want to enjoy spending time on the local Japanese trains during those seasons.
3. You'll be surprised at how comfortable they are: Highway buses
Highway buses are large buses that utilize highways to get between cities, and they are very affordable ways of traveling within Japan. Depending on the time of year and the company, you can travel from Tokyo to Osaka for about 3,000 JPY. There are also night buses where you can sleep through the night as you travel, so you don't have to worry about lodging. This way of travel is recommended for people who don't mind being in small spaces for some time.
However, since there are many customers that sleep in the seats, lately they have been including features such as wider seats, toilets, and some buses even have little personal spaces blocked off so you can have some privacy from other people. There are also many buses that are women-only (with the exception of elementary-aged children traveling with their mothers depending on the company). If you're interested, definitely check them out as one of your travel options.
4. Lately the numbers available within Japan have been rising: low-cost carriers
Low-cost carriers have been increasing in number in Japan, with many routes and flights available now. Among them, Jetstar and Peach have many routes in commission so you can easily fly them from one end of the country another. Many of the flights depart from Narita International Airport and Kansai International Airport, and a lot of them start from a few thousand yen (though there may be extra luggage fees, so please double-check when you book your flight). There are price changes depending on the time period and they also have limited-period discounts, so it would be good to plan your trips based on their price schedules. If you want to travel to north or western Japan, it would be good to check out all of the LCCs available for the best price.
5. If you want to make local travel more affordable: bicycle rental
Thanks to the recent concerns about protecting the environment, bike rentals have become popular even in the capital city. If you ride trains and buses everywhere, you spend a surprising amount on travel fees even if you're only going short distances. In the cities where the transportation network is very convoluted, using a rented bicycle and figuring out where you're going using your smartphone, you'll save money. In cheap areas you can rent a bike for a whole day for 500 JPY. The price and returning rules change depending on the area and the company, so make sure to confirm those details before you rent the bike.
No matter how hard you try, you'll end up accumulating transportation fees when you're traveling. Please use this article as a reference to travel safely and economically.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.