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July 3, 2019

How To Take The Bus In Japan

You have just landed in Japan, took a taxi home and are now researching how to get to school on Monday.
Google Maps gives you the answer: 20 minutes by bus!
"Okay cool, but how do I actually take the bus in Japan? Is it different from home?"
Yes, it is.
Figuring out the Japanese bus system on your own can give foreigners quite a headache.
To prevent this from happening, we have come up with this handy guide to Japanese busses!

Get on!

The bus in Japan has two doors. One at the front where the bus driver sits and a second one in the middle. Enter through the rear door of the bus.

After you hop on the bus, you will notice a ticket machine located just inside. Whilst the bus stops at the station, a small paper sticks out. Pull it out. This will be your ticket for the ride. If you use an IC Card, simply press it against the scanner machine.

Enjoy your ride!

Now enjoy your ride! However, there are some things you should know about bus etiquette. The public transportation is usually quiet in Japan. Don’t turn the music up while using earphones, don’t speak on the phone, better even: Don’t talk at all. Do you travel with a backpack? Wear it the other way around (on your belly, not on your back), so it doesn’t accidentally bump into other passengers.

Of course, there are basic rules you have to comply with when taking the bus in Japan. Refrain from smoking, pushing the front seat with your legs or leaving trash behind.

Track your fare!

But most importantly - refrain from taking images of other passengers. It’s against the law to take pictures, where individuals are recognizable (unless you have their permission).

While driving, you can track the fare in Yen on a monitor next to the bus driver. Match the number and price on the monitor with the number on your ticket. If you use an IC Card, the monitor won’t be of interest to you. Just make sure you have enough money on your card.

Get off!

When your stop is approaching, press one of the buttons on the wall, on the poles or the seat in front of you. It will inform the bus driver that you wish to get off the bus.

For leaving the bus, you use the front door next to the bus driver. Payment occurs before departing. Put the exact amount of money with your ticket into the transparent box. If you don’t have the exact fare, use the change machine. The change machine can take coins and 1,000 Yen bills.

The payment slot and the change machine are next to each other. Be careful, so you don't mix them up! If you use an IC card, press the card against the scanner.

On some busses, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan buses or the city bus system in Kyoto, you pay a flat rate when you enter the bus. You will enter through the front door and exit through the rear door on most buses with this setup.

Can't Get off?

The bus is jammed, and you can’t get out? Use the word “Sumimasen” (engl.: Excuse me/Sorry). People will try to make some space so you can pass through.

Made it out safely? Then we accomplished our goal for this guide. And remember: If you ever have any questions, you can always ask the Meiji Staff. We are happy to help you out - even if it's just on how to take the bus in Japan!

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