Using buses in Japan is safe and inexpensive, but can be a little challenging at first, since there is often a lack of English information, and the payment systems differ depending on the route you use. Here, as with trains, the purchase of a travel card such as IC or Pasmo might make life easier, as on some buses you can just swish the card over the device by the door when boarding and alighting. Often, though, you will need to have coins to hand. Although the fare requires the right change, you can convert your notes into the appropriate coins via a device next to the driver. Be warned that these devices don’t take the larger notes (¥5,000 and ¥10,000), so if you are planning to travel by bus, stock up on coins or ¥1,000 yen notes. For the rural areas such as those showcased in Japan – 100 Hidden Towns, even the remotest will likely have a bus service of some sort, though make sure you are aware of the times, as they may come as rarely as just once or twice a day.
For longer trips, overnight buses are a much cheaper option than the bullet train. Several bus companies run such services between major cities and prefectural capitals.