Roads, Rail & Sky: Vacation Traveling

Base Info

Roads, Rail & Sky: Vacation Traveling

by: MCCS Marine Corps | .
U.S. Marine Corps | .
published: July 11, 2015

Japan has one of the best public transport systems in the world. It's quite easy to get around the country while you're stationed at MCAS Iwakuni, but it can also be very expensive. Here are some different ways to save money while traveling.

KNOW WHEN TO GO

Just like in America, Japan has its own peak and off-seasons for traveling. Planning your trips accordingly can be the first step in saving money. New Year's, Golden Week (late April and early May) and Obon (mid-August) are the most expensive times to travel, as these are the prime traveling seasons in Japan. Hotels and airlines often increase their prices during  these times.

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CITIES

Many cities offer package tours that can help save money. Some, like Kyoto, offer travel tickets that give discounts on buses and trams and more. If you're heading to big cities, check out their websites to see what offers they have.

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BUSES

There are many buses in Japan, both local and cross-country highway buses. There are also overnight buses running, and these slower forms of transportation are quite cheap. If you're able to sleep on moving vehicles, these can be a very inexpensive alternative to the faster Shinkansen. Like the trains, many bus companies offer one- or multi-day passes that give discounts. Again, ITT is a great resource for looking into bus information and ticket rates.

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TRAINS

Japan has one of the most expensive train systems in the world, but it's also one of the most efficient. From the fast Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to local lines, trains are one of the most popular and easiest ways to get around the country and the cities. ITT can help travelers get to Shin-Iwakuni (which is where the local bullet train departs from) as well as buying tickets. The bullet train comes in three basic styles: Nozomi (which is the fastest), Hikari (slightly slower but still speedy), and the slowest moving Kodama. All bullet trains have first-come, first served seating but reservations can also be made in advance to make sure you have a seat. This is highly recommended if you plan on traveling during the peak seasons mentioned above.

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PLANES

There are many airports in Japan, scattered all through the main islands. The most common ones for international travel are located in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa. All-Nippon Airlines (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) are the two major carriers. ANA handles flights right from Iwakuni Kintai Airport, with regularly scheduled flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. There are many more domestic airports that can get you to other parts of Japan if you are traveling outside of Iwakuni or other major cities. Like airlines in America, Japanese airlines have their own discounts, clubs, and perks to help make traveling easier and cheaper.

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CARS

MCAS Iwakuni provides a vehicle rental company. It can be a nice way to explore the more rural areas of Japan, where public transportation is more inconvenient. It is not recommended for cities, however, as the traffic is heavier, directions and orientation are more difficult, and parking is expensive. Most places have limited assigned parking, and it's frowned upon to park in front of one shop and walk to another. There are many parking lots and garages, although almost all charge and the prices can be steep. A SOFA license is required for driving. If you've just arrived and don't have one yet, consider riding with a friend who does.

Tags: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Base Info
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