Guest blog by Ray Shortridge
Public busses are a convenient way to move about large Japanese cities. Their routes have stops near most of the sites that you would want to visit. Better yet, the busses are scrupulously clean and comfortable to ride in. In general, they are full but not unbearably crowded. Rush hour can be another matter so claustrophobic tourists should definitely avoid public transit during peak travel hours.
The fare is paid with a plastic IC card that is purchased from a ticket machine at a railroad station. The machines have an English option for operations.
The initial cost is a refundable deposit of 500 yen plus whatever amount you wish to credit to the card, typically another 1,500 yen. Using the card saves you from the inconvenience of buying a ticket every time you want to take a bus (or a train that honors the card.)
To use the card, tap it against the panel at the front of the bus near the driver when exiting the bus. In most cities, enter the bus from the side door and exit through the front. Note: because one pays as one exits, getting off the back door is considered theft. Don’t do it.
Touring Japan by bus, can be manageable and pleasurable. Better yet, it is extremely affordable.