The highway bus (高速バス) is the second type of major bus in Japan. You can go to the local bus page for more information about public buses in Japan.
The highway bus covers long distances, and is usually the cheapest, but slowest way to go from one point to another. Unlike other transports, the highway bus generally travels during the night, arriving at destination in the early morning. Fares depends from company to company, as well as the level of comfort.
How to ride the highway bus?
In order to ride with the highway bus, you will have to make a reservation in advance. It is possible to make a reservation either online, or at the bus terminal, even a few hours before departure or even less. Note that it is recommended to reserve your seat at least one day in advance, or even more, especially during the high season. It is also easier to find cheaper tickets if you reserve some time in advance than the day of departure for example.
Like for the shinkansen, there are different types of tickets. You can purchase one-way, round trip tickets, or even multiple tickets for various destinations.
You can usually find the bus terminals next or nearby train stations. It is also possible to buy tickets at these locations.
Each bus company has different rules as to how many luggages you can take with you. Most places will accept one or two big luggages to put in the trunk, and one smaller handheld bag you can put away in a compartment above your seat.
Riding the bus
During the trip, the bus will stop once every so often on a highway parking area (PA) to make a quick break of about 10~20 minutes. You can use that time to stretch your legs or use the bathroom. Most parking areas will have vending machines and 24/7 shops where you can buy food and drinks.