JR (Japan Rail) Pass
WARNING: NOT TO BE USED BY RESIDENTS OF JAPAN
If you have family or friends interested in visiting you, there are various discount tickets available for the Shinkansen and other trains ,such as the Japan Rail Pass. This pass entitles the holder to one, two, or three weeks’ unlimited travel on any JR service and even includes the JR ferry to Miyajima Island! Unfortunately this pass can only be bought outside Japan as its use is limited to foreign tourists coming to Japan. Numerous JETs have abused this for years by getting a visiting friend to validate their pass for them and trusting that the guards on the platform counters are only interested in the date on the pass and not the name. Using the pass is the best way to travel round Japan if you are covering large distances but there are penalties to pay if you get caught, so be warned.
Seishun 18 Kippu
If you have the time and patience but not a lot of money then try the Seishun 18 Kippu. This ticket allows you unlimited travel on JR local trains for a whole day. It does not let you use the Shinkansen, sleeper trains, or non-JR services. You pay ¥11,500 for a set of five tickets (they cannot be purchased separately) which works out at ¥ 2,300 for 1 day’s worth of travel for as far as you want to go. You could travel for 5 whole days or take four friends with you and each have 1 day’s worth of train travel each. There are restrictions on which days you can use them: available dates in 2010 are July 20th –
September 10th (on sale from July 1st – August 31st).
Matsue-Osaka Discount Ticket
For those people wanting to go from Matsue to Osaka, there is a waribiki (discount ticket) for the Yakumo train and Shinkansen. It costs ¥ 13,000 for a return ticket. (A one-way option is available but has no discount.) Take the Yakumo train to Okayama and then change to the Shinkansen for a convenient route to Osaka for a few days’ holiday. The only limitation is you must complete the return leg of your journey within six days.
Each town/city has its own express bus service to larger cities. Please ask in your town for this information. There are typically night buses to Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
Travel by ferry is possible from Japan to nearby countries. Ferries bound for Korea and Russia leave from Sakaiminato in nearby Tottori Prefecture, while Fukuoka and Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture also have ferries bound for Korea.