Passengers are required to enter through the door located at the rear of the bus. When you enter the bus, take a ticket from the machine located just inside. Find your seat. Look at the electronic display near the driver; it shows the next stop. In popular tourist areas, the display may feature an English translation, but many buses do not.
Therefore, it is important to know the kanji, or Chinese characters, representing your destination before boarding the bus. When nearing your stop, push the glowing yellow button on the wall or back of the seat in front of you. This will alert the driver that you need to depart.
How to pay
You will pay the bus fare as you depart. If using the JR Pass on a JR bus line, simply show the driver your pass. On some buses, you will touch your pass to a sensor when you pick up your ticket and when you exit through the front door.
If you don’t have a pass or are using a non-JR bus, find your ticket number on the display. This will show you your fare in yen. If you need to make change from larger bills, a change machine is located near the driver. Finally, you will drop the bus fare along with your ticket into a transparent box next to the driver. Then you may depart the bus.
On some buses, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan buses or the city bus system in Kyoto, payment occurs when you enter the bus. In this case, you will be paying a flat rate instead of a flexible rate based on how long you ride. On most buses with this setup, you will enter through the front door and exit through the rear door.
Japanese bus etiquette
Like many other aspects of Japanese culture, those riding the buses are expected to observe courteous etiquette. For example, when using the provided headphones or your own, adjust the volume so as not to disturb others around you. Turn off your cell phone or place it on silent mode – talking on the phone is prohibited. Speak quietly to your traveling companions.
Don’t push on the seat in front of you with your feet or knees, and ask the passenger behind you before reclining your seat. Do not leave luggage or other items in aisle ways, and take any garbage with you. Wear your seatbelt and do not walk around while the bus is in motion.
Finally, seats are assigned so as to not have men and women sitting beside one another unless they are traveling together. Be sure to check the seat number on your ticket.