Hostel chain for backpacker in Japan / Budget accommodation / Enjpy an international exchange !!
English Japanese Korean Taiwan Tailand german Italian Spanish French

Basis for J-Hopping

Moving

Transportation cost is the biggest headache for budget travellers. Here are some solutions to save on your transportation expenses. Also, there are many ways for Japan hopping depending on your situation.

Japan Railway Pass

If you plan to travel to Japan for longer than a week and visit places in different regions , buying a Japan Railway Pass is a very good way to save on transportation expenses.shinkansen
It allows unlimited use of JR trains, buses and ferries including Shinkansen lines within the period of validity.
Please note JR Passes can only be bought outside of Japan and it is only for "temporary visitors"
I am envious because Japanese cannot buy this pass. Actually, it is really good value. For example, when you make a round trip between Osaka and Tokyo by Shinkansen, it costs 27,500 yen. Meanwhile, a JR Pass for 7 days costs 28,300 yen. It is obvious how valuable the pass is.
Please refer to the link for the details.

Japan Rail Pass official site
http://www.japanrailpass.net/

Seishun 18 Kippu

Seishun 18 Kippu is a seasonal pass for JR local trains.
Availability period for the pass is only 3 times a year during school vacation period.
You can take a local train up to 5 times with the pass. Shinkansen or Express trains can not be used. You can buy the pass at any JR stations.
Basically Seishun 18 Kippu is good for those who can stay in Japan longer and want to save money as much as possible.
Please check the details for the following link:

Seishun18 kippu Seishun 18 Kippu page by JR East
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/seishun18.html

Seishun 18 Kippu page by Japan-Guide.com
http://japan-guide.com/e/e2362.html

Other Nationwide and regional train passes :
Japan-guide.com collect information on most things.
They are doing a really good job for visitors, I think ...
http://japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html

Highway Bus

Using highway buses is also a good way for budget transportation.
JR Group has a big highway bus network between most major cities.
You can see their website (Japanese only)
http://www.kakuyasubus.jp/
One bus company (123bus.jp) has a English website.
Also, some of other major bus companies have some highway bus lines.
You can see them from the link below:

Highway bus Japan-guide.com page
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2366.html

Highway bus database by Nihon Bus Association
http://www.bus.or.jp/kousoku_e/

Using highway buses is originally cheaper than JR trains. Especially some major lines such as between Kyoto and Tokyo tend to be cheaper (the cheapest range of that is less than 4,000 yen). Many of Highway bus lines go overnight. You can save daytime and the lodging cost.

Air

airplane

Airline companies offer some exclusive passes only for foreign visitors too.

Oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare by JAL
http://www.jal.co.jp/yokosojapan/

Star Alliance Japanese Airpass by ANA
http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/travelservice/reservations/special/airpass.html

Visit Japan Fare by ANA
http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/travelservice/reservations/special/visit.html

These airpasses are not for unlimited use like JR Pass, but it is fixed fare per any domestic flight (10,000-13,000 yen). You have to purchase abroad as well as JR Pass.
If you are planning to visit Okinawa or Hokkaido in your travels, it would be a good option.
Some other smaller airline companies have a cheaper fares for their particular routes such as:
Tokyo-Hokkaido region by AirDo
http://www.airdo.jp/ (Japanese)
http://www.airdo.jp/share/eng/index.html(English)

Tokyo-Kyushu region by Skynet Asia Airways
http://www.skynetasia.co.jp/index.shtml(Japanese)

For the other things, this link is very helpful:
Japan-guide.com
http://japan-guide.com/e/e2364.html

Ferry

As Japan consists of many islands, shipping is one of the most important ways.
There are many ferry companies and it is kind of difficult to narrow the focus.
Japan-guide.com once again delivers some great information.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2355.html

Fery In my experience, using ferry is a good option in the following routes:
Kansai area - Hokkaido
Kansai area - Kyushu area
Tokyo - South Kyushu area
Chugoku area - Shikoku area

Hitch-hiking

Hitch-hiking road

Many people say it is not difficult to hitchhike in Japan.
I think it is true. If you travel to a remote area and it is not convenient to use public transportation, hitchhiking is a very good option. I have travelled to the far countryside of Hokkaido by hitch-hiking and I didn't have any trouble in meeting gentle drivers who stopped for a sleazy stranger. 
It may be a little difficult for a travelling between big cities. Usually hitch-hikers wait a little before the approach of the expressway. I am no big fan of that while you can get many other budget options for transportation between big cities.
Lastly, although Japan is said as one of the safest countries of the world, violent crimes by crazy people are increasing these days. Please enjoy hitchhiking at you own risk.

Please refer to Wikitravel for hitch-hiking in Japan
http://wikitravel.org/en/Hitchhiking_in_Japan

Motorbiking

Beautiful countryside, varied scenery
If you are a motorcyclist, I am sure you can enjoy riding in Japan with beautiful countryside and varied scenery. Especially, it must be a paradise for off-road riders. It is not very easy to bring your motorcycle into Japan, though. However, you can, of course, if you wish.

Biking touring Information to travel by motorbike in Japan by Chris
http://www2.gol.com/users/chrisl/japan/

Overseas motorbiking forum by Horizonsunlimited website
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/

Biking

Cycling

Around 70% of Japan is mountain side and travelling across Japan by bike is kind of tough. But some people do this and it is definitely worth it. Maybe it is the best way for J-Hopping. You can stop whenever you want and see whatever you like on the road. You can save transportation expense. Please refer to the link:

Japan Cycling Navigator
http://www.japancycling.org/

When you make a day trip in the city, biking is a very reasonable and convenient way.
Some hotels/hostels have rental bike service and you can use it forless than 1000 yen / day.

Walking

Tokaido

Walking from city to city is not a very popular way for J-Hopping. There is an important old way mail route called "Tokaido". The route is between Tokyo and Kyoto. In the Edo period, many people used to walk this way for the business trip. You can follow the old route and experience how old people made a tough trip.
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda/1787/tokaidomap.html

Another chance for a walking travel is to make a Japanese pilgrimage.
I haven't tried it yet but it must be beautiful !

About general information for Japanese Pilgrimages
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/holy-mountains-sacred-shrines.html

The most famous pilgrimage trip is of Shikoku's 88 Temples
http://henro.free.fr/



Car

If you are travelling with a group, renting a car may be a good option.
A compact car can be rent from 5,000 yen or so a day.
For the further information, please refer to Japan-guide.com site (again !)

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2024.html

J-Hoppers Hostels

J-Hoppers Group Site

Hostel in kyoto

J-Hoppers Hostel Kyoto

The hostel opened in Kyoto in 2002. It's an 8 minute walk from JR Kyoto Station. There are many important historical sites such as Toji Temple or Fushimi-Inari Shrine. The nearest bus stop is right in front of this hostel , which is on the quite convenitnt bus route to access to other major sights such as Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera or Gion.

Hostel in Hiroshima

J-Hoppers Hostel Hiroshima

The hostel opened in Hiroshima in 2006. The builing used to be a Japanese style ryokan and most guest rooms are Japanese style with tatami matts. Located near the Peace Memorial Park and A-bomb Dome. You can also go to Miyajima, which is one of the 3 most scenic spots in Japan, by tram.

Budget hotel in Osaka

J-Hoppers Hostel Osaka

The hostel opened in Osaka in 2008. It's just about 15 minutes walk to JR Osaka station, which has extensive travel links to everywhere. It could be a starting point for all sightseeing places not only Osaka but also Nara, Kobe, Koyasan and Himeji.

Guesthouse in Hida Takayama

J-Hoppers Hostel Takayama

The hostel opened in Takayama in 2009. It's just 3 minutes walk to JR Takayama station. Takayama has preserved the feeling of a castle town. There are lots of historical spots such as Histrorical Govement House, San-machi-suji lined with stores selling the traditional wares and craftman's workshop and Hida Folk Village.

Sharehouse in Kyoto