Learn How to Commute Like a Japanese Local

Do like the residents do!

Photo Pixabay

The consistent increase of workers and travelers to Japan brings about the rapid spread of positive reviews of how Japan is a must-visit destination. Not only because of its beauty and rich culture, but also of how comfortable and reliable its network of transportation.

In this article, we introduce the top common means of transportation used by Japan residents in the metro.


There are numerous commuter trains moving around Japan, especially in its capital city, Tokyo. Among these, the most popular are the Japan Railway, Tokyo Metro, and Toei subways, which you may have already heard of by now. Though owned and operated by different companies, these train lines usually connect in one station, making it convenient for commuters.

It may look confusing at first, but thanks to multilingual signs and innovative navigation apps, where they suggest a recommendable and affordable route, it’s not that complicated. Now all you have to do is to purchase your ticket and hop on the train.


Equally convenient are the buses that commence from train stations. Buses are what people take to get to the districts of a city or the countryside.

The latest navigation apps now also include bus rides on their recommended route making it a worry-free trip. You just have to be keen on checking which bus number to take, and which stop should you get off. The intervals between bus stops have quite a distance so stay alert! You don’t want to get off the wrong stop and get lost in the process.

Private/Company Vehicle

While the trains and buses seem to be sufficient already as a day-to-day means of transport, some still find the need to commute using their own or company-issued vehicle. This really depends on their line of work, the location of their workplace, or just simply their preference.

It may easily be assumed that you should be able to speak the language before you can drive in Japan. But good news everyone, Japanese language skills are not required to drive in Japan. In fact, even tourists can rent and drive a car as long as they have secured an International Driving Permit. While for foreign residents, they just have to convert their domestic license to a Japanese. But of course, one must not forget to buy a car first, find a parking space, apply for insurance, and go through the
shaken process—a government-mandated car safety and maintenance inspection.



People whose residence have more than a 15-minute walk distance from the station may probably get their own bicycle. By doing so, you don’t only benefit for your health, but also it gives you control of your time so you don’t have to wait for the next bus.

To be able to enjoy your first Japan bike ride, you must first register your bicycle for Jitensha Bouhan Toroku or bicycle anti-theft registration. This can usually be done at the shop where you purchase your bike and costs around ¥500.

Bicycle rentals are also increasing because tourists nowadays are growing more interest on enjoying the local neighborhood while biking at a leisurely pace.


If you’re just a 7 to 10-minute walk away from your destination, there is no other way but to walk. Besides what can go wrong with a short walk?

Japan may have been unique in its own way, but their rules on the road are somehow universal that doesn’t require being good at speaking the language. The key is to observe your surroundings, watch the people around you, and be as courteous as them.

Happy commuting!

 (08 April 2019)

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