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While regular airfares by conventional airlines remain relatively high on domestic routes, an increasing competition by discount airlines and a wide array of discount offers have made domestic air travel in Japan very attractive and competitive in recent years. In fact, there are so many discount plans, that only very few travelers are ever paying regular fares.

Special fares and air passes for foreign visitors

JAL (and oneworld) and ANA each offer special fares and air passes for exclusive use by foreign visitors to Japan, which enable holders to fly anywhere within Japan for not much over 10,000 yen per flight (also referred to as "sector"). This is quite a competitive price on many domestic routes, especially on longer flights, such as flights from Tokyo to Kyushu, Okinawa or Hokkaido.

Some of the air passes have to be purchased outside of Japan and before you leave for Japan. They can only be used by non-residents of Japan who arrive to and depart from Japan by an international flight. Some offers are not available during certain blackout periods, which are typically the New Year holidays, the spring holidays in the second half of March and the summer holidays from mid July through August.

Below is some basic information about the air passes. Consult the airlines for more details:

JAL Japan Explorer Pass
Price 10,000 yen per domestic flight*; lower fares for flights within Hokkaido and Okinawa and for flights from/to the Tohoku Region.
Validity 1 or more domestic flight by JAL
Purchase Online via the global JAL website
Blackout Generally none, but seats may be unavailable on some flights and days
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to and from Japan by any airline.

ANA Experience Japan Fare
Price 10,000 yen per domestic flight*; lower fares for flights within Hokkaido and for flights from/to the Tohoku Region
Validity 1 or more domestic flight by ANA
Purchase Online via the global ANA website
Blackout Generally none, but seats may be unavailable on some flights and days
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

ANA Discover Japan Fare
Price Varies, typically around 10,000 yen or more
Validity 1 or more domestic flight by ANA
Purchase Via the ANA website for countries other than Japan or through travel agents outside of Japan
Blackout Generally none, but seats may be unavailable on some flights and days
Eligibility Travelers purchasing their ticket outside of Japan.

JAL Welcome to Japan Fare
Price 13,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 2-5 domestic flights by JAL
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout Most of March, July, August and December, as well as the first few days of January
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

ANA Visit Japan Fare
Price: 13,000 yen per domestic flight*
Validity 2-5 domestic flights by ANA
Purchase Through selected travel agents outside of Japan before coming to Japan.
Blackout All of March, July, August, as well as the first few days of January
Eligibility Foreign visitors who fly to/via Japan by any airline.

* not including taxes and surcharges of a few hundred yen

Budget Airlines

Budget airlines, such as Skymark Airlines and Air Do, offer many of the same types of discounts as JAL and ANA, but prices are typically at least 20 percent lower. The entry of genuine low-cost carriers, such as Peach Aviation and Jetstar Japan, in 2012 has lowered available air fares even more:

Skymark Airlines
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Skymark has one of the most extensive route networks among the discount airlines in Japan. It operates inexpensive flights from its main bases in Tokyo-Haneda and Kobe to destinations nationwide. The airline maintains a certain level of services at the airport as well as a quite moderate luggage policy, but reduces its on-board service to a minimum.

Peach Aviation
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Peach started operation in spring 2012 as Japan's first genuine low-cost carrier, introducing fare levels not seen in Japan before. The airline is based at Osaka's Kansai Airport, Tokyo's Narita Airport and Okinawa's Naha Airport and operates several domestic and international routes to nearby Asian destinations. It maintains a strict luggage policy and keeps services to a bare minimum, although paid drinks and snacks are available on board. Beware of hidden fees.

Jetstar Japan
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Jetstar Japan operates the largest domestic network among low-cost carriers. From Tokyo's Narita Airport, Osaka's Kansai Airport and Nagoya's Central Japan Airport it serves many domestic destinations and a small number of international destinations. Jetstar's luggage policy is strict, and services are limited, although paid drinks and snacks are available on board. Beware of hidden fees.

Spring Airlines Japan
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Spring Airlines Japan connects Narita Airport with Hiroshima, Sapporo, Saga and several cities in China.

Air Asia Japan
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Air Asia re-launched its Japanese low-cost carrier in October 2017 with its hub at Nagoya's Central Japan Airport. It currently operates a single domestic route between Nagoya and Sapporo. Air Asia's luggage policy is strict and services are limited, although paid drinks and snacks are available on board. Beware of hidden fees.

Air Do
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Air Do operates inexpensive flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to various destinations in Hokkaido, and from Sapporo to Osaka and multiple secondary airports across Honshu. A relatively generous baggage allowance and a certain service level are maintained, including complementary drinks.

Starflyer
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Starflyer offers inexpensive flights on its route network centered around Kitakyushu and nearby Fukuoka and Yamaguchi. Starflyer offers not only inexpensive fares, but also a comfort level that exceeds that of conventional airlines by offering spacious seats, complementary drinks and a video system for every passenger. A relatively generous baggage allowance is maintained.

Solaseed Air
Network:    Fares:    Service/Luggage:
Solaseed Air (formerly known as Skynet Asia Airways) operates inexpensive flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to various cities on Kyushu, and from these Kyushu airports, as well as from Nagoya and Kobe, to Okinawa. A relatively generous baggage allowance and a certain service level are maintained, including complementary drinks.

Advance Purchase Discounts

An effective way to get low rates on domestic flights in Japan is to purchase as early as possible. Many airlines start selling their flights from two months in advance (details vary between airlines) and offer particularly large discounts when booked at least 45, 35 or 28 days in advance. Many airlines also offer discounts on bookings made seven, three or one day ahead of travel date.

The biggest discounts are offered on popular routes on which competition is high. Most discounts are available for just a limited number of seats on each flight and may sell out quickly. They are often tied to higher handling fees for ticket modification and cancellation. Some of the discounts are reduced or unavailable during peak travel seasons. Online bookings are possible on each airline's website, but note that some airlines do not maintain English websites.

Avoiding Peak Travel Periods

Many of the discount fares are less attractive or unavailable during peak travel periods such as the New Year holidays (late December to early January), the spring school holidays (second half of March and early April), Golden Week (late April to early May) and the summer holidays (mid July through August, especially Obon in mid August). Furthermore, fares on many routes are somewhat higher from Friday to Sunday than during the rest of the week.

Round-trip Discounts

Domestic flights in Japan are priced and sold in one-way sectors rather than round-trips. Nevertheless, many airlines do offer small discounts on round trips. However, since only one type of discount can be applied per flight and other discounts (especially advance purchase discounts) are usually better priced, round-trip discounts are often not the most attractive option.

Early morning and late night flights

The fares of some of the early morning and late night flights are typically around 10-20 percent lower.

Typical one way fares for selected routes

Airfares from Tokyo to Sapporo over the next 30 days
Airline Lowest fare Average lowest fare
JAL 10,980 yen 21,500 yen
ANA 10,780 yen 22,600 yen
Skymark 8,200 yen 10,800 yen
Air Do 10,390 yen 15,200 yen
Peach 5,980 yen 7,600 yen
Jetstar 6,360 yen 7,500 yen
Spring 4,440 yen 5,700 yen

Airfares from Tokyo to Fukuoka over the next 30 days
Airline Lowest fare Average lowest fare
JAL 11,510 yen 23,100 yen
ANA 12,510 yen 23,200 yen
Skymark 8,930 yen 13,800 yen
Starflyer 12,020 yen 16,100 yen
Peach 6,010 yen 10,800 yen
Jetstar 6,490 yen 11,100 yen

Airfares from Tokyo to Osaka over the next 30 days
Airline Lowest fare Average lowest fare
JAL 9,470 yen 11,800 yen
ANA 9,470 yen 12,000 yen
Starflyer 11,360 yen 12,500 yen
Peach 5,080 yen 7,600 yen
Jetstar 6,630 yen 9,100 yen

Airfares from Tokyo to Okinawa over the next 30 days
Airline Lowest fare Average lowest fare
JAL 9,530 yen 20,700 yen
ANA 9,530 yen 20,700 yen
Skymark 9,950 yen 15,100 yen
Peach 6,930 yen 9,600 yen
Jetstar 7,360 yen 10,300 yen