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I am debating taking a job in Japan. I have a ~11kg dog, and want to get a sense of how hard it would be to travel with her.

For example, would she be allowed on the Narita Express to Tokyo? Or on any of the local trains around the Tokyo area? If I wanted to travel on the weekend to more rural areas, on the Shinkansen, would she be allowed?

If dogs are generally not allowed on trains, is there any kind of either mass transit or individual transit which accepts transporting dogs? I don't plan to own a car, so it's important for me that there be some way to get around with her if I need to.

To summarize, are dogs allowed on any sort of mass transit in/around Tokyo? And if not, what are the possible ways to transport me and my dog without owning my own vehicle?

  • "... without owning my own vehicle" Is renting a vehicle OK for you? – muru Aug 27 '18 at 7:54
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    Atop all of this, assuming you don't live in japan you should be aware of the difficulties of importing a dog. I'm not an expert on the subject, but when travelling recently I saw one person taking their dog into quarantine at the airport. It looked like this was mandatory and had a 180-day holding period. – Brian R Aug 27 '18 at 14:32
  • @muru Yeah, renting a vehicle would be ok – spacetyper Aug 27 '18 at 15:19
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    @spacetyper sorry, never mind. Two of the major rental services, Toyota and Times have the same 10kg limit and cage requirement as JR East. I don't think the minor players will be much different. – muru Aug 27 '18 at 15:34
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Sorry, you cannot take a dog above 10kg on a train in Japan. Per JR East's rules, dogs and other animals can only be transported if they're placed in a fully enclosed crate less than 70cm in length and 10kg in combined weight, plus you need to pay 280yen per ride for the privilege:

有料のもの

●小犬、猫、鳩またはこれらに類する小動物(猛獣やへびの類を除く)で、

長さ70センチ以内で、タテ・ヨコ・高さの合計が90センチ程度のケースにいれたもの

ケースと動物を合わせた重さが10キロ以内のもの

https://www.jreast.co.jp/kippu/20.html

Rules may vary slightly between companies but the general gist will be the same for buses, trains, etc.

You should also be aware that importing a dog into Japan may require a quarantine period of up to 180 days, and that tiny apartments and long working hours and commutes are not very compatible with large dog ownership. Small "cute" dogs are popular but I've rarely seen large dogs outside rural areas.

Update: I did find one (1) taxi company in greater Tokyo that carries pets small or large: http://smile-animaltaxi.com/

It's not cheap though, with rates starting from 4000 yen for 5 km.

  • Thanks for the answer. Can you clarify the length regulation though? I'm seeing 70cm on the translated version of the page and just want to know if it's accurate or not. – spacetyper Aug 26 '18 at 21:02
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    @spacetyper I am reasonably certain none exist. Sorry, but urban Japan really doesn't cater to large animals. – jpatokal Aug 26 '18 at 21:15
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    Cracking up at my 25lb dog, that is 1kg over the limit for small animals, being categorized as a large animal. Definitely a cultural difference with the US! – spacetyper Aug 27 '18 at 15:37
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    Do train attendants actually carry weights to measure pet containers? – JonathanReez Aug 27 '18 at 18:23
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    That's 10 kg of animal + crate, not 10 kg of animal. The crate itself is likely to be 3 - 5 kg depending on size. – shoover Aug 27 '18 at 19:44
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Yamato Unyo, one of the delivery companies, will apparently transport a crated dog from Narita Airport to almost anywhere: https://form.008008.jp/mitumori/PPET0100Action_doInit.action

They will transport medium size dogs up to 30kg and large dogs over 30kg, so you’re in the clear.

They’re pretty much your only option for larger size animals even though they are pricey. Public transportation options tend to restrict dogs to only small ones less than 10kg that can fit in their own bag. Rental cars don’t allow animals that aren’t crated and a one-way rental from Narita is going to be expensive, let alone not something I’d recommend a newby try (left-side driving, Tokyo traffic, jet lag, a barking dog, etc).

For general travel in Japan, everyone I know either checks their dog in at a dog hotel (of which there are plenty) or has their own car.

If you do go with Yamato, it looks like you need to make a reservation and get a quote, which makes sense as there’s likely a lot of prep work needed on the transportation company’s end.

Finally, your company may have a relocation specialist on staff or on contract. You may want to contact them as they as usually familiar with slightly odd requests from foreigners.

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    +1 for a creative alternative, but the pricing is pretty prohibitive: transport for a "medium dog" (6-25kg) from one point to another within Tokyo costs a cool 19,440 yen, or almost US$200. – jpatokal Aug 27 '18 at 9:48
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I know this is a few months late、but we have our 13kg dog here. Shes in a snoozer carrier which is a roller and a backpack. Its 70cm by 90cm the limit. She does not stand comfortably but she lays down and sleeps just fine. Jr trains have never asked to weigh our pup and we bring her into downtown Tokyo all the time. Also have rented both from toyota and nissan. Rented nissan from the airport to my apartment and just rented Toyota over the new year for vacation. Again if shes in a carrier they dont care about weight. 11kg is fine. If you end up moving and need a babysitter let us know! Lol

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