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Japan - Home to the World's Largest Passenger Railway System

Updated on July 25, 2017

Mt. Fuji

Japan is a country located in East Asia. It is an archipelago consisting of 6,852 islands, the largest of which are Honshu (biggest among the four), Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.

It is bounded on the north by the Sea of Okhotsk and the Kuril Islands, on the south by East China Sea, on the east by the North Pacific Ocean, and on the west by Russia, South Korea, North Korea, and China.

Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun because its name when written in Japanese characters means "sun-origin". The term nihon used in nihonjin (Japanese) and nihonggo (Japanese language) also means sun-origin.

Japan is considered a major economic power and is the 3rd largest economy in the world exerting its influence on international trade and economics.

Japanese prefectures

Japanese prefectures are the equivalent of Canadian and Philippine provinces, and the US states.

Japan has 47 prefectures which are divided into cities and towns and is headed by a governor who is elected by the people.

Some of the more famous prefectures are:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kyoto, Okinawa, Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Fukushima, where the most destructive tsunami in Japan happened in 2011.

The rest of the prefectures are: Hokkaido, Iwata, Nagano, Niigata, Akita, Gifu, Aomori, Yumagata, Kagoshima, Hyogo, Shizuoka, Miyagi, Kochi, Okayama, Kumamoto, Shimane, Miyazaki, Tochigi, Gunma, Yamaguchi, Ibaraki, Oita, Mie, Ehime, Chiba, Aichi, Wahayama, Kyoto, Yamamashi, Iwate, Kanagawa, Fukui, Ishikawa, Nara, Shiga, Tottori, Tokushima, Saga, Kagawa.

Map of Japan

The Japan Railway System

Trains are a major means of transportation in Japan. Rail transport is served by more than 100 private companies among them the Japan Railway System (JR), one freight company, the JR Freight, 16 major, regional companies and many other private local companies. The system consists of 27,268 kms of railways spread across the country's many islands.

Japan Railways own about 70 percent of Japan's vast railway network. The remaining 30 percent is served by other smaller private companies.

The Japan Railway Group (JR) consists of 6 regional passenger rail companies

  • JR Hokkaido
  • JR East
  • JR Central
  • JR West
  • JR Shikoku
  • JR Kyushu
  • JR Freight

Some of the major private rail companies are:

  • Kanto. Seven railway lines operate in the Kanto area
  • Chubu. There is only one line in Chubu.
  • Kinki. There are 5 in the Kinki area.
  • Kyushu. There's one in Kyushu.

Kanto Area - 7 Railway Lines

There are 7 railway lines that serve the Kanto Area route:


Tobu Railway

The Tobu Railway Line serves mostly the northern part of Tokyo. It has a total of 463.3 kilometer of railways spanning five prefectures that include Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Tochigi, and Gunma. It is the largest among the seven lines mentioned here.The Tobu Railway is important for tourists as it gives them access to the city of Nikko, the gateway to the elaborate shrine of Tokugawa Leyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate.


The Odakyu Railway Line

The Odakyu Line serves the Airport-Shinjuku route both from Narita and Haneda Airports.

Narita Airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The Odakyu line services passengers coming out of Terminal 2 then goes to Nippori via the Keisei skyliner and finally to Shinjuku via the JR Yamanote line.

From Narita to Shinjuku


From From Haneda Airport, it goes to Shinagawa via the Keikyu line/airport express for only 18 minutes then finally to Shinjuku via the JR Yamanote line.

  • Tokyu Railway
  • Keisei Railway
  • Seibu Railway
  • Keikyu Railway
  • Keio Railway

Majestic Mt.Fuji!

Photo courtesy of my friend
Photo courtesy of my friend

Do You Want to Visit Mt. Fuji?

Mt. Fuji is one of the most popular tourist spots in Japan. I guess every tourist who travels to Japan would like to visit and have a photo in this majestic wonder of nature. If you are traveling on a budget, you can take the bus from the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal in Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Station. Here, go to this website to show you a cheap way to visit Mt. Fuji.

Tickets cost Y1,750 yen or $22.30 for adults and Y880 yen or $11.20 for children and the bus ride will take one hour and 45 minutes. Enjoy your trip to Mt. Fuji!

Some interesting symbols of Japanese culture

I have always been fascinated with the uniqueness and sophistication of the Japanese culture which has been distinctly defined through their language, their extremely elegant and intricate national costume, their delicious and uniquely prepared food, their literature, music, fashion, sports, ikebana, origami, geisha, bushido, and much more.

Did you know that...

  • Japan is the 10th largest nation in terms of population size?
  • The Greater Metropolitan Tokyo Area is the largest metropolitan area in the word?
  • It has the highest female life expectancy in the world?
  • It has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world?

Japanese food

You will know right away that a particular menu is Japanese based on the food preparation and presentation. Japanese food is quite distinct in the manner the recipes are cooked and presented. Their food preparation is truly unique symbolizing their culture and way of life.

The Kimono

The Kimono is Japan's traditional clothing which means a "thing to wear'. The are usually made of silk - brocade silk, satin weaver and crepe silk.

They are traditionally created and decorated by hand making the finished product so expensive. Even the ones produced by machines would require a lot of work by hand.


The Geisha

The Geisha is another important symbol of Japanese culture. The literal English translation of geisha is "performing artist" or simply "artist'.

She is a traditional entertainer who acts as hostess by performing traditional Japanese dances and classical music for a particular audience.

In the 1800s, the geisha style and appearance became so popular that a lot of Japanese women mimicked their style and look. Various ranks and classification of geishas emerged. Some of these geishas had sex with their customers and some of them merely entertained with dances, songs and other forms of entertainment.

In Japan prostitution was legal until the 1900s and some of the geishas practiced them which became popular all over Japan.

The geisha way of life was founded mainly to promote independence among Japanese women and to teach them how to be financially independent.


Ikebana is the Japanese way of arranging flowers. It literally means "the art of flower arrangement" or "making flowers alive".



Origami is an elaborate way of folding paper into various objects.

Have you been to Japan

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Lately in the news, there has been a proposal to allow Filipinos, Indonesians and Vietnamese to travel to Japan without a visa but that is just still a proposal as there need to be consultations between Japan and the countries identified to make this official according to the Japanese News Agency, Kyodo.

© 2013 Zee Mercado


Submit a Comment

  • WAHmom profile image

    Zee Mercado 15 months ago

    Thank you, Arun Kanti.

  • ARUN KANTI profile image


    You must have been very confused by the comments wrongly sent owing to inadvertence. Actually before Football world cup final I read two interesting hubs on Japan, a country which always fascinates me. In my haste to commend I slipped up and I could discover the mistake while reviewing the comments of sundry visitors later. Sorry for the trouble.

    As for your hub I have indeed had much pleasure reading your interesting write up. Those of us who have not yet visited the land of the rising Sun will be definitely thrilled by the idea to know what is in store for them. Thank you and have a great week.

  • ARUN KANTI profile image


    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to know your exhilarating experience at Arashiyama, Japan.The photos are gorgeous and the article is very well written, Have a great rest of the weekend.