questions & answers: general japan travel



This will be my first trip to Japan and I'm very much in need of advice regarding transportation!

Because I am traveling between many cities in a short amount of time, my friend recommended I purchase a JR Pass, which I plan on doing. However, I will also be traveling within the city and I am not sure where to look for information regarding train stations, buses and so on. Is there somewhere I can find a list of JR stations or buses, e.g., like the MTS map San Diego has or the BART stations in San Francisco?

Broad itinerary (as of now):
Osaka! - I need to get from Kansai International Airport to our hotel near Shinsaibashi Station
Osaka to Kyoto
Kyoto to Nagoya - is there a direct route from Kyoto to Mie?
Nagoya to Tokyo

Because I am staying in Tokyo for a longer period of time, my friend said I should get an IC card. Should I also get IC cards for the other cities? (I am visiting each city for ~1-2 days.) When I was looking for information on IC cards, it looks as though there are different IC cards for each place I am going.

Any help given is greatly appreciated, even a finger in the right direction. Thank you!


Hello there,

I've never been to San Diego myself but I'd certainly love to visit place. Unfortunately for now, I can't give you a direct comparison.

Good to know for the JR Pass is that it covers all the JR lines in Tokyo and Osaka, these will get you to both cities.

Here is a map with all lines in Tokyo Here is a map with all lines in Osaka and Here is our interactive map with all of Japan.

For travel to Mie, there's no direct train connection. The best way to travel to Mie with the JR Pass is to take the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Nagoya station and from there a local train to Mie.

As for IC cards. GET ONE, it will make your life a lot more easy. IC cards are interchangeable, meaning you can buy one in Tokyo and use it everywhere else in Japan where IC cards are used.

Hope this helps!


Hey Daniel, thanks for your reply!

Can you tell me about unreserved seating on the shinkansen? I was looking on hyperdia and it seems like it might be better for me price-wise to NOT buy the JR Pass. How exactly does unreserved seating work? I read that it's first-come, first-serve and that passengers might have to stand, but does that mean that they will fit as many people as possible into those cars?


Hi there,

For a non reserved seat. Just go to the train platform. queue up and get on a seat when you enter the train. It's as simple as that. It is indeed first come first serve.


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