Posted by: jrhorse | April 28, 2016

Book more Japan buses in English!

During my random perusals of Japan travel on the Internet, I discovered for the first time that another of Japan’s highway bus companies has now opened its online reservations to the English language. This, in turn, might make bus bookings for foreign travelers much easier – and more competitive.

Two buses of the JR group JR Bus Kanto and JR Tokai Bus – have published English information about their bus services on their respective websites. Both companies link to their online bus reservation website, www.kousokubus.net, where you can look up bus availability, see what seats are available, and make a reservation request. It doesn’t go into how exactly you acquire your bus tickets, though…

Aside from this question, the JR buses can give you several seating and fare options depending on what route is selected. Some of the fares are what are called “hayatoku” fares, which are discounted fares for an advance purchase. Securing these types of tickets in advance could yield good savings on potential bus tickets!

A few other bus companies in Japan already offer English reservations for their buses. The biggest of these is Willer Express, the company known for its distinctive pink buses, which also offers online reservations in Chinese and Korean. Another bus company, Keio Bus, offers English reservations for their buses between Shinjuku and Mount Fuji.

One of the biggest routes that JR Bus offers online reservations for is the most important: the Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka route. Here are some of my search results for a random weekday in May comparing JR Bus with Willer Express for a trip between Tokyo and Kyoto:

Day bus:
Willer Express
* 4 seats to a row, 4,320 yen

JR Bus
* 4 seats to a row, 3,900-4,300 yen
* 3 seats to a row, 4,700-5,700 yen
* “Gran Seat” (2 x 1 per row), 5,300-6,300 yen

Night bus:
Willer Express
* 4 seats to a row, 4,800-5,400 yen
* “New Premium” (2 x 1 per row), 7,000-8,600 yen

JR Bus
* 4 seats to a row, 4,500-5,400 yen
* Super Seat (3 seats to a row), 7,100-8,500 yen
* “Gran Seat” (2 x 1 per row), 7,500-8,900 yen
* Premium Seat, 11,500 yen

Have you relied on bus travel in Japan? Will you book your next Japan bus trip online?

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