Japan’s transportation system is highly efficient, while using less energy per person compared to other countries due to a high share of rail transport and low overall travel distances. Railways are the country’s major means of passenger transport, allowing commuters fast and frequent access to and between major cities and metropolitan areas by mass and high-speed transport. Rapid transit provides passenger railway transportation in urban areas with a high capacity and frequency of service and adds quality to living not only in big cities, but also in the more suburban parts of Japan’s metropolitan areas.
”Shinkansen”, or bullet trains, are high-speed trains, which connect the country from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern parts of Kyushu. With few exceptions, Shinkansen trains run on entirely separate lines from their commuting train counterparts.
Besides railway services operated by private rail companies, regional governments, and companies funded by both regional governments and private companies, the Japan Railways Group covers most parts of Japan.
While passenger rail transport is well developed, the vehicle road system is considered insufficient for the number of vehicles owned in Japan. Due to a high population density and a limited amount of available land usable for road construction, the latter is seen as problematic. As of 2015, Japan recorded almost 1.3 million kilometers of roads, of which about 9,000 kilometers were made up of national expressways and approximately 56,000 kilometers of general national highways.
Public buses in Japan usually serve a minor role, primarily transiting bus passengers to and from train stations. Exceptions are long distance bus services, airport bus services, and buses in areas poorly served by rail transport. Taxi services perform a similar role by supplementing the rail system, especially after midnight when most rail lines cease to operate.
The Japanese archipelago naturally operates ports dotted all over its main islands. Ferries connect not only the four main islands, but also create links between smaller islands and the country’s main harbors. Despite the steady number of passengers carried via water transportation, marine accidents involving passenger ships decreased by almost 50 percent in recent years.
Japan’s main international gateways are Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport, and Chūbu Centrair International Airport, while the country’s main domestic hub is Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). With over 85 million reported passengers boarding or exiting planes in 2017, Haneda Airport is ranked the world's fourth largest airport in terms of passenger traffic.