As Japan welcomes spring with flowers and festivals, a whole range of benefits for travelers also seem to be cropping up. I know I usually mention travel developments in a post at the beginning of the year, but as Japan gears up for the Olympics in a few years, things seem to be moving a bit faster and more and more changes are happening every month. Here are just a few of the things to note:
- Shinjuku’s new Busta Shinjuku bus terminal
Shinjuku’s crazy terminal may just have become a tad more streamlined with the opening of the Busta Shinjuku bus terminal. While long-distance highway buses used to load and unload passengers at various (seemingly random) points around the neighborhood, all highway buses now arrive and depart from a centralized location. Travelers may now be able to recoup that extra 45-60 minutes it once took just to locate their bus stop. 🙂
- Toll hike on the Shuto Expressway (Tokyo)
I’m not sure about other expressways across the country, but April 1st ushered in a significant toll increase for drivers who use the Shuto Expressway, Tokyo’s main urban elevated highway. The former rate of ¥930 has now been replaced by a cringe-worthy ¥1300 fee. Prep that GPS well. Toll booth attendants are NOT going to let you slide if you exit and reenter the expressway due to navigational errors. You’re required to pay the fee all over again. (Both cash and cards are accepted.)
- JR Rail Passes to be Sold in Japan
Finally! For those that either forgot to buy their rail passes, didn’t know they’d need them, or didn’t plan ahead, the ever-popular Japan Rail Pass will soon be available for actual purchase in Japan itself. We residents are still shut out of the good deals, but now travelers landing at one of Japan’s larger airports will have no trouble purchasing passes on-site.
** While the government has stated its intention to carry through with this promise, there is yet no date for when passes will be available in Japan. For those traveling in the near future, it is still smart to plan – and purchase – ahead.**
- Kawachi Fujien pre-reserved tickets
It seems that the beautiful wisteria garden of Kawachi Fujien in Kitakyushu has become a victim of its own popularity. (I both love and loathe when things go viral on the internet.) This year, the privately-owned wisteria paradise implemented a ticket prereservation sytem. Most tickets for the period of April 23-May 8th are already sold out, but a handful may remain (or so it appears) in the 8h00-13h00 timeslot as well as in the 13h00-18h00 session.