What’s Japan’s transportation system like?

Tokyo features one of the most extensive metropolitan transit systems in the world. It consists of Japan Rail (JR) and private train operators, numerous subway systems, and bus service. However, be prepared for a long commute. It is not uncommon for a business person to commute for two to four hours round trip each day. KCP will try to find host families and dormitories as close to the KCP campus as possible, but finding good host families is difficult. It is not always possible to find host families in downtown Tokyo.

The massive web of public transportation may seem overwhelming at first. In time, however, you will become accustomed to it and feel confident traveling anywhere in Tokyo. Most participants of this program quickly learn to explore Tokyo and its surrounding areas like a native!

The train system

Japan has an extensive rail system for access to all areas of the country. Trains are frequent and punctual. Subways and trains are relatively inexpensive, usually have some maps and signs in English, and are quite regular. Timetables differ by line, though none run 24 hours. The subway usually departs every 5–10 minutes. Trains are *always* on time.

Japan has quite a few different train lines—a web of lines, really. There are too many to list here, but getting a map of the system will really help you.  Detailed maps are available at KCP, train stations, Narita Airport, and tourist bureaus. Also, you can find phone apps for the train system: just search on “tokyo subway maps”.  Once you are more fluent in Japanese, you can find Japanese-language apps like EKISPERT. Try the apps you like—and let us know what you think of them!

Other modes of transport

Bus service is readily available within Tokyo and between Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. Ferries provide economical transportation to Japan’s many islands. Taxis are readily available but very expensive, particularly late at night.

NOTE: In a taxi, the door you enter and exit from opens and closes automatically.


In Japan, drivers drive on the left side of the road, not the right side. Be aware of this when walking on and crossing roads. KCP does not allow students to drive in Japan.


Do not hitchhike. It is not a common practice in Japan, and it can be dangerous.

Transportation pass

Those who stay at school-arranged housing receive a transportation allowance to cover your regular class commute. It is provided during your first few days at KCP.