How To Ride a Bus Japan

Reference Pages Index -- Oniko Goes To Japan Main Page

If you know you want to use a bus to get somewhere, there are some important differences in how a bus gets used in Japan than in America that you should know. I'm assuming you can figure out which bus you need, either by reading the sign on the side near the back door which lists all the major stops, or by asking at the station or the driver.
In any case, difference number one: You enter the bus by way of the back door -- not the front. Th front door is the exit. As you get on the bus, you will see a little machine which will normally have a small paper ticket pokeing out of it; take the ticket. This ticket has a number on it that represents that stop that you got on at. The only time the machine does not offer a ticket is when you are boarding the bus at the starting point of it's route -- at the bus station, usually.
Difference number two: You do not pay for your ride until you leave the bus. At the front, above the driver and where everyone can see it, is a board that displays a number for each stop on the route (including a box for the starting point of the route). Under each number is the amount that needs to be paid as you leave the bus; these prices slowly increase as the bus travels further and further. Thus, you are charged for the distance you ride; short trips are cheaper, and long trips... well, no one hops on a bus in Japan just to ride around and see the sights (they do that on the trains instead).
One last note: if you do not have the proper change for your trip, don't panic. Every bus I've been on includes a change machine near the driver that will break 1000 yen notes, as well as 500 and 100 yen coins, into smaller change. Many people take a moment after they've entered the bus to break a bill, so they'll be able to exit the bus quickly at their stop.

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