Without question, the train is the best way to travel in Japan. The entire country is covered with an extensive and reliable railway network, the trains are punctual, and the service is superb. Photo by shibuya246 The majority of the network is operated by Japan Railways (JR), the successor of the national Japanese National Railways (JNR), privatized in 1987 due to debts and mismanagement. The JR Group is divided into six local railway companies: JR Hokkaidō, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Shikoku, and JR Kyūshū, but most JR rail passes are compatible across the network and even with private railways which makes for a very unified experience no matter where you decide to travel. Trains are often busy, especially during the rush hours (which are usually between 7:30–9:00 and 17:00–20:00). Also, try to avoid train travel during Japan’s national holidays, where trains are often totally booked up. If you must travel, it is essential to reserve.