Night buses (yakou basu 夜行バス) are one of the best ways to travel around Japan on a budget.
All major cities and even smaller towns/cities, such as Akita, are linked to the major urban centres by night buses. As is evidenced by the name, you board at night and after the attendants turn the lights off and close the curtains you are free to sleep on the bus until you arrive at your destination (usually the next morning.)
Night buses are operated by many companies and in most cases you must make prior reservations. Reservations can be made online either at the company's website, at a travel website such as Hyperdia, or any bus station. Bus stations are normally located either next to or at train stations.
Services to/from Akita
Below are various companies that offer night buses. Although there is a wide variation in price depending on the quality of your bus, the majority will cost somewhere between ¥4,000 ~ ¥9,000 one way. Depending on the person, it may be difficult to fall asleep on them.
- Offers regular buses and "Relax" buses with more comfortable, hooded seats. The Relax bus offers 8 single seats in a 3-row configuration(RelaxWide) up front while the rest of the bus in a 4-row configuration(Relax). There is no on-board washroom but the bus stops several times between Akita and Tokyo. English site for timetables and booking. Cheaper advance fares available. If bought way in advance, you can now purchase a RelaxDouble, buying both Relax seats and not having to worry about if someone will be crammed in next to you, priced between the Relax and RelaxWide.
Operated from Akita City, Omagari and Yokote to Tokyo(Shinjuku Station)
- These two companies are cheaper options and seem to have a partnership. Orion and the Sparkling Hot Dog buses are regular double seater coaches(4-row). Orion with no on-board washroom while Hot Dog has a fairly large washroom . They stop about 3 times during the trip at service stations, and they turn on all the lights at these stops. The buses board on the street in front of Akita Station, near the east exit. They usually leave early, so arrive before the given boarding time. They will call you if they think you're late. These buses leave later than the Ugokotsu buses but arrive at about the same time.
Both bookings can be done over their internet sites and they also have ticket packs which lets you buy 6 tickets (回数券; kaisuken) for a discounted price. The pack is a good option as these companies change their prices during peak seasons.
Orion - Operated from Akita City, Omagari and Yokote to Tokyo(Tokyo Station)
Hot Dog - Operated from Akita City, Omagari and Yokote to Tokyo(Shinjuku Station) and Yokohama.
- JamJam Liner (ジャムジャムライナーは)
- Offers a more comfortable single seat 3-row configuration for the entire bus, like the RelaxWide seats with Willer. On-board washroom included.
Operated from Akita City, Omagari and Yokote to Saitama(Omiya), Tokyo(Shinjuku Station) and Tokyo(Tokyo Station)
- Ugokotsu (羽後交通観光)
- The most expensive option. This bus offers single reclining seats and on-board washroom facilities on their regular buses. During peak seasons, you might get an add-on bus with no regular seats and no washrooms (they will make service station stops). They will tell you if your bus has no washroom during booking. Reservations can be made at JTB or online.
- JR offers 2 routes, an Akita route called Dream Akita(ドリーム秋田・横浜) and a Honjo route called Dream Chokai (ドリーム鳥海). Prices will vary depending on the pickup location. Offers a 3-row configuration for the entire bus. On-board washroom included.
Dream Akita - Operated from Akita University and Akita City to Tokyo(Tokyo Station) and Yokohama
Dream Chokai - Operated from Yurihonjō(Honjo), Nishime and Nikaho(Stops at Nikaho, Konoura and Kisakata) to Tokyo(Tokyo Station).
- KB Tours (KBライナー)
- Offers regular double seater coaches(4-row). Never seated next to the opposite sex. Bus is usually a white bus with "Chiba Mirai" on the side. One of the cheapest options, ¥3,500 ~ ¥5,500
Operated from Akita City to Tokyo(Shinjuku Station)
- Offers a 3-row configuration for the entire bus. On-board washroom included. Can be purchased from the Willer website. Quite expensive compared to the above.
Operated from Akita City to Tokyo(Shinjuku Station)
- Offers a 3-row configuration for the entire bus except the back row of 4. 3 types of buses available. On-board washroom included with free water and tea. Lights out at 23:10. Operated from Noshiro, Futatsui, Kitaakita, Odate, Kazuno and Iwate(Ashiro) to Saitama(Omiya) and Tokyo(Ikebukuro Station)
Tickets can be bought online, or from Shūhoku Kōkū Service (秋北航空サービス) ☎ 0186-67-8123, inside Itoku in Takanosu. Return ticket price from Takanosu is ¥18,090 (July 2016).
- Rakuten (楽天) can be used to compare prices of various bus companies and book tickets. (Japanese only)
Japan Bus Pass
The Japan Bus Pass can be used on overnight and day buses operated by Willer. It is valid for three, four or five days of travel within two months from the date of purchase. Not valid during certain busy periods (e.g. Golden Week, Obon, New Year). The pass can be used by foreign residents, but it must be bought online from outside Japan.
- Pass prices:
- 3 days: 10,000 yen
- 4 days: 12,000 yen
- 5 days: 14,000 yen
Fixed Route Bus Schedules
Schedules for local, fixed route buses around Akita:
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