Getting around Japan by public transport
It sounds better in Japanese than the literal translation of 'new trunk line'. The Shinkansen are almost worth a trip on, just to say that you have been on one. They are very fast, efficient, clean, safe, quiet (considering the speed you are going anyway), are almost always exactly on time and they stop exactly at the designated place on the platform. All in all, they're pretty cool.
There are 6 main shinkansen bullet train lines running through Japan.
The first part of a new Hokkaido Shinkansen service from Shin Aomori Station in Aomori Prefecture to Shin Hakodate Hokuto Station in Hokkaido will open on 26th March 2016. Further extensions through to Sapporo are planned to open around 2030
The Yamanote line
The Yamanote-sen is one of the busiest train lines in the Tokyo area and is operated by JR. It is a loop-line that goes round in both directions connecting most of the major Tokyo train stations. Trains are very regular, stopping at stations every few minutes. The trains that go in a clockwise direction are known as 'soto-mawari' (outer circle), while the trains going in a counter-clockwise direction are called 'uchi-mawari' (inner circle). All but two of the 29 stations on the Yamanote-sen are connected to other railway or subway lines.
An estimated 3.68 million people ride on the Yamanote-sen every day.
The Tokyo Subway
There are two main subway operators in Tokyo, making up the Tokyo Subway (tokyo no chikatetsu) which together consists of some 290 stations and 13 lines. Apparently, together they carry over 8 million people every single day.
Fares are between 170 yen and 310 yen depending on the distance travelled.
The system is highly efficient and the two companies are closely integrated. Note however that for single rides across Metro and Toei systems, a special transfer ticket is needed. That ticket costs 70 yen less than the sum of the Metro fare and the Toei fare, and is calculated based on the shortest possible route between the origin and destination stations.
The Osaka Municipal Subway
The Osaka Municipal Subway forms a large part of the public transportation system in the Greater Osaka and Kansai region and is operated by the Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau. The Midosuji-sen line is the main line in the system and also the busiest. There are 8 subway lines and 123 stations. Fares divided into 5 sections and are between 180 yen and 370 yen for adult passengers; charges based on the distance travelled. One-day and other discounted tickets are available.
The Sapporo Municipal Subway
The Sapporo Municipal Subway is an underground metro system in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It is operated by the Sapporo City Transportation Bureau. There are three lines - the Namboku (North-South) line, first opened in 1971 before the 1972 Winter Olympics; the Tozai (East-West) line and the Toho line.
All three lines connect at Sapporo Station and so with the JR lines. At Odori and Susukino Stations, it connects with the streetcar above.
There are two main hubs - Sapporo Station and Odori Station and most of the central area of the city is easy to get to (by foot) from one of those two stations.
Ticket prices range from 200-360 yen depending on the distance travelled. One-day and other discounted tickets are available.