With high-speed rail and a choice of airports in cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, getting from A to B in Japan is one easy task.
But which is the best choice for your journey – taking to the skies and flying from city to city, or jumping on a Shinkansen bullet train to cross the country?
There’s really no right or wrong answer, but each has its ups and downs depending on why and how far you’re travelling.
Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed bullet trains
Lengthy queues at check-in and boarding, the security screening rigmarole and excess baggage charges: three things you won’t find on the Shinkansen.
Instead, just hop on board, power up your laptop, tablet or smartphone and start working online immediately – try doing that on an aircraft from gate to gate!
When it’s time to alight, chances are you’ll already be in the city centre or at one of the major public transport hubs for an easy link-up to your Japanese hotel room, rather than landing at an airport that requires a connection into the city and then another before you can relax.
Missing from the parcel are frequent flyer points and airport lounges, although you can always use your points-earning credit card to buy your Shinkansen tickets, and we daresay that lounges aren’t a necessity when you’ll very shortly be on your way.
Domestic air travel within Japan
For passengers arriving from or connecting to international flights – particularly Qantas’ and JAL’s services between Sydney and Tokyo – flying is still the winner.
Your bags can be tagged through to your final destination, and chances are you’ll have access to comfy lounges during your transit and can make use of the shower facilities and indulge in a little food and drink.
As you’d expect, flying typically comes with a serve of Qantas frequent flyer points and status credits – and when combined with the haul from your credit card spend, you could well be enjoying a free flight or upgrade sooner rather than later.
With the fastest Shinkansen trains capped at 300 km/h, you’ll also find air travel a real time-saver if jetting from one corner of the map to the other, such as between Hachinohe and Kagoshima.
But for regular trips between Tokyo and the likes of Osaka, Kyoto, Fukushima and Nagoya, there’s simply no beating the convenience and speed of the Shinkansen: even without the promise of frequent flyer points and perks to help you along the way.
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