There are two major types of bus. This page will focus on the local bus (公営バス / 市バス) or short distance bus, and will also provide some information about minor types of bus. You can go on the highway bus page for more information about long-distance buses.
How to use the bus
Buses in Japan differs depending on city and prefecture, but in most places it follows the same pattern. Note that the instructions below are based on most buses in Japan.
In many places you will have to get on the bus from the back, and get off the bus from the front. You will find a machine where you can buy a ticket, or you can pay the exact amount in the front before you get off. The exact amount will be written on several places on the bus if fixed, such as for the Kyoto city bus for example. Otherwise, check the display or map to see how much you have to pay at your stop.
In case you don’t have the exact amount of coins, you can change money in the machine next to the bus driver. Note that almost every bus will not accept 2,000 yen and 10,000 yen notes. Some buses don’t even accept 5,000 yen notes, so make sure you have smaller banknotes, or a bus pass before you ride.
If you have an IC card, touch the card reader with it when you get on, and touch the sensor in the front before you get off.
In order to get off the bus, simply press one of the buttons on the wall or poles to indicate the bus driver you want to get off at the next stop.
How to ride the bus from the front?
There are some exceptions to the rule, such as the Tokyo City Bus, where you will have to get on from the front, and off from the rear. In that case you will have to pay first when you get on.
Minor types of bus
Other than the local bus and highway bus, there are special buses listed below:
- Hotel bus: this is usually for bigger or luxury hotels. You can take it freely on it’s fixed trajectory to the hotel, or from the hotel to one of its stops. Please inquire with your hotel for more information.
- Driving school bus: this bus is free to ride to or from your driving school, and drives on a fixed path.
- School bus: there are several types of schoolbuses, from preschool all the way to university. Some have a fixed path, others -especially for preschoolers- will stop close to certain homes.
- Store bus: this type of bus offer free rides to and from certain stores, such as the IKEA bus.
- Sightseeing bus: these are paid bus tours. Some will even have open roofs and travel around the city while giving information about it.