Transportation in Japan is highly developed, modern and energy efficient. The energy consumed per person is low in comparison to other countries as the share of rail transportation is low vis-a-vis the travel distances. Transportation in Japan is expensive when compared to International transportation costs. One reason for this could be the high toll rates and the taxes levied, mainly on the automobile transportation. Japan has an efficient network of 1.2 million kilometers of paved roads. The railways occupy an important place in the transportation industry of Japan. Apart from this the transportation in Japan is also done through air transport as well as marine transport. All in all the country boasts of a well developed and structured infrastructure in transport industry.
Air Transportation in Japan :
There are 176 airports in Japan, out of which two large ones are found in Tokyo , Narita International Airport formerly known as the New Tokyo International Airport situated at Narita city in the Chiba prefectuary, and the relatively more centrally located Haneda Airport. The Narita International Airport is the place where most international flights land. The Haneda airport on the other hand caters mostly to domestic flights and a few international flights too. The Haneda Airport is the world’s 4th busiest airport. The other airports in Japan are the Kansai International Airport situated in the Osaka, Kobe, Kansas area and the Chubu Centair Airport for the Nagoya area. The next largest airport in Japan is the Fukuoka Airport running flights between the city to several Asian destinations.
Other major traffic points are Osaka International Airport, New Chitose Airport outside Sappro, and Fukoida Airport. The country also boasts of more than 14 helipads. The main Airlines operating in the country are Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways.(ANA) Other airlines are Skymark Airlines, Skynet Asia Airways, Star Flyer, AirDo and Fuji Dream Airlines. The major operators from Narita Airport are United Airlines and Delta Airlines which was earlier known as Northwest Airlines.
Rail Transportation in Japan :
The first railway track in Japan was laid down in 1872 between Tokyo and Yokohama.Today, Japan has one of the most developed transportation networks and the railways have become an important means of transport for the masses in the country and run for a total length of 27,182 km, including several track gauges. The most important of these is the 1067 mm(3ft 6in) narrow gauge running for 22,301 Kms, out of which 15,222 km is electrified. About 50 Shinkansen or the high speed bullet trains run daily to commute passengers to and fro between cities all over Japan. The Shinkansen are high speed trains and are reputed to be punctual. Out of these the N-700 Nazomi which operates at a speed of 300 km per hour is the fastest.
The four major islands of Japan, Kyushu, Hokkaido, Honshu and Shikoku have a network of reliable and efficient railway network. The Japan Rail Pass makes it easy for the travelers to avail of a reasonably priced transportation which is fast and efficient at the same time. The Japan Railways Group which was state owned as Japanese National Railways till the 1987 ran into heavy debts due to mismanagement and was privatized. The Japan Railway operates about 70% of the railway networks in the country, whereas the remaining 30% is either operated by private companies or jointly private and regional companies. Kobe, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai Nagoya, Osaka Tokyo and Yokohama have a subway system as well.
Road Transportation in Japan :
As per the Japan Statistical Yearbook (2011) Japan has a network of approximately 1,203,600 km of roads made up of 1,012,000km of city, town and village roads, 1,29,000 km of prefectural roads, 55,000 km of general national highways and 7600 km of national expressways. The Foreign Press Centre/ Japan (fiscal year 2008) cite the total length of expressways at 7641 km. The cities of Shikoku, Honshu, Kyushu are all connected by a network of high speed toll roads with limited access. With an aim to boost competition, and reduce toll costs, the Japan Highway Public Corporation which was in charge of collecting tolls till 2005, was transformed into private companies with a public ownership.
One can opt to take the Kosoku or the highway buses as an alternative but cheaper mode of transportation compared to rail transport in Japan. The Japan Bus Pass offers the best discounted fares for commuting to locations across the country.
Travelers can avail of taxis or rented cars as another option for travel around the city. The licensed taxis bear a green number plate. The easiest way to catch a taxi in Japan is to wave your hand at it as most cab drivers will not be able to communicate in English. It is also advisable to carry a business card with details of your destination written in Japanese or a map showing the intended destination. The taxi Fares are calculated on the basis of distance and time. The starting rate of which is about 710 yen for about 1.5 km to 2 km, with the fare going up by 100 yen for every 300 to 500 m. One can see the fare displayed on the meter in the centre of the dashboard. 20% higher rates as late hour fees are applicable between 10 pm and 5 am.
Japan consists of several thousand islands and it is obvious that it should have a network of ferry routes or waterways to commute people across these islands. The four main islands of Japan, Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are interconnected by a network of tunnels and bridges besides waterways. However the smaller islands are only accessible by ships. These ferries transport anything between people, vehicles or cargo as well as cars and bicycles too. The cost of ferrying a bicycle is roughly 100 yen for a one hour journey. There are large ferries usually equipped with amenities like public baths and restaurants that can carry hundreds of passengers and vehicles on the longer routes; while shorter routes have smaller ships with a capacity of a few dozen passengers and a couple of cars. Long distance liners offer a choice of travelling in three classes Special Class, 1st class and 2nd class depending on facilities provided.