Travel News – For visitors to Japan –


Tourist information you’ll want to know before planning your trip to Japan, and news on handy services while you’re there.
*The information on these pages is current as of October 2019.

Tokyo ranked the ‘Safest City’ for the third time running

Tokyo has taken out the top place in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2019, with Osaka coming in at third place. The capital city of Japan has ranked first for three consecutive surveys in this index of 60 cities conducted once every two years since 2015. In the 2019 edition of this index, cities were given scores out of 100 across a range of indicators including digital, health, infrastructure, and personal security. Tokyo topped the ranks for low petty and violent crime levels, infrastructure to withstand natural disasters, and low risk of computer malware infection, with high scores in other categories.

1. Tokyo 92.0
2. Singapore 91.5
3. Osaka 90.9
4. Amsterdam 88.0
5. Sydney 87.9

More flights to and from Japan in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics


The Japanese government has announced an increase in international departures and arrivals to Haneda Airport from approximately 60,000 to 99,000 flights in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Approximately 50 extra slots per day will be allocated from March 29, 2020 as part of the new summer schedule. Of the 50 additional slots, Australia has been awarded four allocations amongst nine other countries including the United States and China. The new Australian flights to and from Haneda Airport will also include the first midday slot for the route.

Large luggage to require reservations on the Shinkansen


Large suitcases and other bulky items will require luggage reservations to take onboard the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines starting May 2020. The planned changes are part of an effort to increase security measures for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Large luggage is deemed to have a collective length, width, and depth between 160cm and 250cm with reservations required alongside other reserved seat options such as window seats, and internet services. No additional cost is required when reserved beforehand, however, a 1,000-yen fee must be paid if a reservation is not made. If a large luggage item is carried onto a non-reserved seat, then an extra 520 yen to upgrade to a reserved seat must also be paid alongside the additional luggage fee. The luggage will be kept locked up in spaces behind seats at the end of a carriage, or in the luggage space on the deck. There are no current plans to introduce these changes to the Tohoku or Hokuriku lines.

Discover a new side of Japan


The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) spreads the word about the charms of Japan to residents of Australia and New Zealand. Their website provides information handy for travelling around Japan about topics such as Japanese culture, food, skiing, and shopping. Check out the website for the latest information about Japan before planning your next trip over to the land of the rising sun.


Be sure to also check out the official jStyle Facebook page for information about Japanese culture. The page is jam-packed with information about Japanese experiences including traditional Japanese sweets, history, castles, temples, and the beautiful outdoors. You can also find the latest news about events in Australia, such as the Japanese pop culture convention, SMASH!, and the Cherry Blossom Festival welcoming the start of spring. Head on over to the Facebook page and discover a new side of Japan.

Electronic Customs Declaration Gate System at Narita Airport now in operation


The Electronic Customs Declaration Gate System (e-Gate) has been rolled out at Terminal 3 in Narita Airport. With this new system, the customs declaration form can now be filled out electronically on an app rather than on paper. The aim of this new system is to speed up the process and shorten waiting times for the ever-increasing number of inbound passengers. Progressing through customs has now been made simple by filling out the required details on the app, scanning the generated QR code and your passport at the electronic declaration terminal, and then having your face photo taken on the spot. The declaration process can be done whilst waiting to collect your luggage. Once you have completed the process, pick up your luggage, head through the e-Gate, and then verify your identity through the facial recognition system, before proceeding through. The e-Gate is scheduled to be made available in Terminals 1 and 2 at Narita Airport, and other major airports from Spring 2020. For more details, visit the Japan Customs official website. Scan the QR codes found below to download the official app.




A quick guide to domestic flights and train travel





Travelling to and from TOKYO


Narita Airport has two key rail connections operating between central Tokyo Station and the Narita Airport terminals. JR East’s Narita Express (N’EX) is the fastest option (60 min., ¥3020). The Keisei Sky Liner is the best choice for travel to Ueno (44 min., ¥2470).


Airport Limousine buses stop at most major hotels and certain landmarks on the way to central Tokyo (75 – 125 min., ¥3100).


Taxis can be expensive depending on your destination. Travelling to central Tokyo costs approx. ¥20000 to ¥24000 by taxi.

A few domestic flights do leave from Narita, but most domestic flights leave from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (70 min. from Narita by the Airport Limousine bus).

using public transport system

Japan has an extremely efficient public transportation system. Trains and buses service a large network, especially in metropolitan areas and between cities, and are clean and punctual.


shinkansen-lines travel time

Most trains and train lines in Japan are owned by Japan Railways (JR). However, others are owned by a number of private companies, often sharing mutual tracks. The urban train systems comprise of shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express, express, rapid and local trains. Many are owned by separate companies, so it can be a little confusing. It’s a good idea to carry a route map (called rosenzu) with you at all times. You can pick one up from most train stations.

All individual tickets (including shinkansen, private railways and subways) can be purchased from vending machines or ticket offices. Individual ticket costs will be shown on the railway line map next to your destination station. Once you have checked the price, you can buy your ticket from one of the nearby vending machines. Children aged six to 11 pay half price and children under six travel free. Trains owned by different companies require different fares, so prepaid integrated-circuit (IC) cards such as Pasmo and Suica, are a useful way to simplify the system (see box). Passengers tend to form queues while waiting for the next train.


Suica and Pasmo are rechargeable, prepaid integrated-circuit cards that can be used for all buses and trains (except shinkansen), regardless of the operating company.

Suica or Pasmo cards can be purchased and recharged at rail vending machines and ticket counters in Tokyo. The initial cost consists of a small refundable deposit plus an initial loading of ¥1500 (for Suica) or between ¥500 and ¥10500 (for Pasmo). When riding the train, touch the card to the card reader when you pass through the station’s ticket barrier. The applicable fare will be automatically deducted at the ticket gate at your destination. When riding the bus, touch the card to the reader when you board. If you are required to pay when alighting, make sure you touch your card to the reader when you get on and again when you get off for the appropriate fare to be deducted.


The JR pass allows unlimited travel on JR-owned trains, buses and ferries for periods of 7, 14 or 21 days. JR passes are available outside of Japan (either online or through your travel agent) before your visit. See www.japanrailpass. net for more information.



Many bus routes link train stations and residential areas. Each stop is announced and displayed on an electric signboard on approach. Push the button to alert the bus driver when you wish to alight. Tickets are purchased upon entering the bus, or when getting off, depending on the bus company and the bus route. Fares can be pre-paid or you can use cash or integratedcircuit cards (Suica or Pasmo) on the bus.

*It is considered bad manners to talk on a mobile phone in trains and buses, so they are best left switched off or muted.


Traveling in Japan


You’ve got your plane tickets, your accommodation, and your itinerary. But how are you going to get around Japan? How do you get the most out of your JR Pass, and what other options are available for longer term visitors, seasoned travellers, and the budget backpacker? While Japan is well known for its advanced transport systems, it can be daunting to navigate. Doing a bit of research and preparation before you land in Japan can save you a lot of time later.

The Japan Rail Pass is considered almost an essential by travellers to Japan. It offers very good value for money, but only if you are travelling between cities. If you are spending the first few days of your trip in a single city like Tokyo or Osaka, consider getting a shorter term JR Pass, and only activating it when you start on the inter-city portion of your trip.

Previously, travellers would activate their JR Passes as soon as they landed at Narita Airport, so they could ride the Narita Express (N’EX) train to central Tokyo without having to splash out 3020 yen for the privilege.

But with a new option for foreign visitors called the N’EX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket, you can take the Narita Express train from the airport to Tokyo and other major stations for just 4000 yen.



So you are in a bustling Japanese city, and you have held off on activating your JR Pass for now (or you didn’t get one in the first place). How will you get around?

The Japanese subway and metro area train networks are world famous for their punctuality, service frequency and coverage. For one-off trips, you can buy a ticket at a vending machine or over the counter. But if you anticipate making multiple trips, and you want to avoid the queues, deal with less loose change, and have greater flexibility, learn from the locals and get a prepaid IC card like a Pasmo or Suica. IC cards are convenient because you simply tap them at the ticket gates to enter or exit the platform areas. You can also use them to pay for purchases at vending machines, convenience stores and certain restaurants. Because the major

IC cards are interoperable, you can use a Pasmo, Suica, or an Icoca card to travel on virtually all trains, subways and buses in the major cities of Japan, although they will not allow you to travel between cities.

To get an IC card, look for the relevant ticket machines or ticket counters at a railway station. You will need to pay a deposit of 500 yen, plus an initial amount of preloaded credit between 1000 to 1500 yen or more. You can recharge your card with up to 20,000 yen at ticket machines or recharging machines. At the end of your trip, you can get your 500 yen deposit back by returning your card to the ticket counter of the issuing operator.


For those who are more adventurous, One-day Passes may be a good option. These special one-day tickets allow unlimited travel on subways, trams, trains and buses within a single city. They are available in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Kamakura Enoshima, and Kobe.

Another local tip: if you are on a budget, check out the discount ticket shops. Usually located around train stations, these small hole-in-the-wall operations buy tickets in bulk and resell them at a discount, and they are perfectly legitimate. If you know what you are looking for, you can save anywhere from 10 yen (for a local JR subway ticket) to 1000 yen (for a longer distance shinkansen ticket).

These discount ticket shops also offer cheap food/ drink vouchers, as well as discounted tickets to attractions like Disneyland and concerts.


The JR Pass allows you to use the shinkansen (bullet train), though not the ultra-fast Nozomi and Mizuho services.
An added benefit is the ability to reserve seats on the trains for free. Reserving seats requires some advance planning, but is a good idea if you have a strict schedule to stick to, are travelling during busy periods, or want to guarantee that your group can sit together. Some services like the Narita Express, or the fast Hayate/Komachi shinkansen, require compulsory seat reservations.

To reserve your seats, find the Reservation Office at a JR station. Show them your JR Pass, then inform the staff of the number of travellers, the date you want to travel, the departure and destination stations, the carriage
class (ordinary or Green), and train name/number or departure time.

For those who are less confident in their Japanese, it’s a good idea to put this information down on paper in advance, which you can show to the staff in order to minimise the risk of a misunderstanding.


The smartphone revolution has made it easier than ever before to access all the information we need while we are on the go, and travel is no exception. If you have mobile internet access while you are in Japan (by renting a phone, getting a local SIM card, or via a portable hotspot), the following apps will come in really handy.