I'm in the thick of planning my next set of adventures in Japan.
And we're using airmiles for the flight down to Nagasaki - so that one's for free!
I think it's almost equal parts exciting and overwhemling - there are just so many options - but I think exciting just wins out. ;-)
Cheaper to fly than take the train
This time, I’ll be spending 3 months exploring this endlessly fascinating and beautiful country. I can’t wait to share with you my experiences along the way.
One aspect of travelling inside Japan that a lot of foreigners overlook is how the number of low-cost arlines has exploded in Japan in recent years. And, get this…
It’s often cheaper to fly inside Japan than take the bullet train.
It wasn’t so long ago that there weren’t any cheap airlines at all, the country lagging behind other countries with well-developed, and competitive, airline industries.
Well, thankfully, that has changed – big time.
One of our first adventures will be going back to the southern island of Kyushu. There’s something about Kyushu that keeps calling me back.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it may have something to do with that no matter where you are on the island you get a sense that nature is always in command. Maybe it’s all that bubbling thermal energy that comes from the mountainout interior.
9 low cost carriers
At last count I found no less than 9 low-cost carriers operating in Japan. So have compiled a list of them all to share with you.
Here’s why you need to go beyond Tokyo.
For discovering and experiencing The Real Japan you’ve got to try harder, dig deeper, look further. The good news is – that’s what this website is here for. To do some of the time-consuming and often difficult ground work for you.
Of course, capital cities are globally recognisable for a reason.
And if you are travelling a long way to a country it’s understandable that you’ll want to take in the capital (particularly if it is Tokyo!). If only to be able to regale friends on the quirks of local culture that (in all honesty) you were already familiar with from a distance via TV, movies and the internet, but had simply never experienced first hand.
And that’s all fine.
Avoid this fundamental error
However, the key here is not to save up money and holidays to spend two, maybe three weeks in Japan and then make the fundamental error of spending half (or more) of your time in the one place.
This applies to most capital cities around the world, but never more so in Japan. Our goal here, lest we forget, is to discover and experience The Real Japan – the Japan that most tourists never see.
You do not need months to see a lot of Japan
Of course, there will always be budgetary considerations to factor in that will influence your plans, but going off the beaten track doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. As much as having months to do a grand tour of the country would be lovely, for most people it’s also highly unrealistic. But that’s not a problem.
You do not need months to see a lot of Japan.
You can see a lot in just 2 weeks – the length of time many visitors to Japan are limited to. Indeed, my next trip will be for 2 weeks, but I’ll still be visiting 9 different locations. Only 2 days of my 2 weeks will be spent in Tokyo. It just takes a little planning and setting your priorities. Of course, if you want to spend more time in Tokyo than 2 days – feel free. It’s your trip!
Cheap rail and air travel
Japan Rail Passes (purchased in advance from your home country) can save you a fortune on rail travel and for the amount they include are fantastic value for money.
In the last few years, Japan has also woken up to and embraced the budget airline phenomenon that those in others countries have taken advantage of for a long time.
97 airports in Japan
Newer, low-cost carriers like Air Asia, Air Do, Jetstar, Peach, and Vanilla Air mean you can fly internally in Japan, connecting the more remote and exotic islands, far cheaper than in the past.
Japan has an extensive internal airline network, there are currently 97 airports in Japan, make the most of them.
Personally, I prefer to focus on travelling independently. Booking (flights, accommodation, trains, day trips, etc.) directly rather than buying an all-inclusive package tour.
Japan is made up of 6,800 islands
To be fair, it is largely a repetitive diet of countless (clichéd) images and stories those outside of Japan are fed by the mainstream media of the iconic city of Tokyo, which accounts for what feels like 90% of coverage of Japan. (Natural or man-made disaster stories excluded.)
Don’t get me wrong, Tokyo is part of The Real Japan, as are white-faced geisha strolling around the streets of Kyoto, but they are merely aspects of it, and certainly not completely representative.
Japan is made up of more than 6,800 islands – don’t you want to see some of them!?
Most people understand it would be wrong to think that spending two weeks in London or New York City gives you an accurate impression of England or America, or of the breadth and variety both of those countries offer. There’s so much more beyond those capital cities.
The same goes for Japan and Tokyo.
So, by all means, build in a stay in Tokyo into your itinerary – you’ll never forget it! – but think about keeping it focused on giving you the kind of experiences and memories that most package tourists won’t leave with.
Allow plenty of time to explore some of the lesser-known areas of Japan. You’ll be surprised at what is out there. And it needn’t cost you a fortune either.
TRJ - Resources
Official Japan Rail Pass website
The Complete List of Low Cost Airlines in Japan
Spring Airlines Japan
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If you found this article interesting then you might also want to read these posts:
The JAL Japan Explorer Pass
The ANA Experience Japan Fare
Plan A Trip to Japan In Just 4 Steps
5 Essential Things You Need Before You Go To Japan
I’ve written a detailed guide including links to websites and resources so you can plan and book your own adventures in The Real Japan.
If you’d like to download your copy, just pop in your email address below and I’ll send you my Guide To 5 Amazing Adventures in The Real Japan.