This page is about getting around Japan in general. For getting to and from Hakuba please go to our “Getting to Hakuba” page.
Getting around Japan by train is quite easy provided you know the names of the stations and where you need to change trains. All of the station names are now in English as well as Japanese so that part of it is a breeze. To find out how to get to your destination, as well as the price and timetables, look at the Hyperdia website, a great resource. If you are doing any serious travel around Japan it is worth getting a JR rail pass which will give you unlimited travel on JR trains including bullet trains for 7, 14 or 21 days for ¥28,300, ¥45,100 and ¥57,700 respectively. A return trip to Osaka from Tokyo on the bullet train will normally set you back ¥28,640, so it quickly pays for itself. The JR rail passes need to be purchased before you arrive in Japan and you can do so online right here.
Using buses in Japan can be tricky and is not recommended for the non Japanese speaking foreigner, except for the long distance buses. Tickets for these can be purchased at any travel agent in Japan or from larger JR train stations. There are many different companies running different routes so there is no comprehensive website to gather information from.
By rental car
It is quite feasible to rent a car in Japan,but can be quite expensive (it is hard to get a car for less than ¥6,000 a day). On top of that expressway fees work out at about ¥100 for every 4 kilometers, adding to the expense. On the bright side, most of the major road signs are in English and everyone drives in an orderly manner,making the actual driving part of it fairly easy.