To get to Tokyo from my end of Japan there’s a few options, plane, train, shinkansen, all classy and fairly comfortable. Then there’s the way I go, overnight bus. Compared to the first few options its about 1/2 the price but takes 3-4 times longer. It takes about 8-10 hours to drive to Tokyo, and the buses take advantage of the long distance. They leave late at night and drive through the night. When you arrive in Tokyo at 7am you have the rest of the day to seize. The only problem is its really difficult to sleep on the bus, and if you do there’s a good chance you’ll end up sleeping on the shoulder of the stranger sitting in the next seat. I don’t know how common it is, but its happened to me on more than one occasion. On our way back from Tokyo last year, Kerrie and I had a whole bus to ourselves. It was kinda like having our own limo driving us across Japan.
If you do find yourself on an overnight bus, here’s a few things I have learned. Bring warm fuzzy socks, regardless of the season it always gets cold, and nobody likes cold feet. It also blocks the scent of your stinky feet from spreading around the bus. Bring a warm sweater– like I said its always cold on that bus. Bring movies – I’ve rented movies for my ipod and watched them, makes the time go by sooooo much faster when I have trouble sleeping. If you are somewhat awake for the rest stops get out of the bus and walk around a bit. I found myself getting restless the last couple hours, and getting out of the bus helped this a whole bunch. Never underestimate the power of Tylenol PM. I’m not supporting an addiction, but a couple pills can make sleeping in those little seats a whole lot easier. This may also be why I end up on the shoulders of my neighbors.
Although not the most comfortable way to ride, overnight buses will get you to Tokyo for a whole lot less cash, so you can spend it on important things like sushi and shopping.