Transportation - Railways

  • Japan's railway system has a reputation for being one of the best in the world, with great punctuality and safety records.

    When you want to purchase train tickets for single or return journeys, you can go to the ticket machines inside the station, which have English language options. If you'd like to make a seat reservation for your train journey, you can simply visit the station's ticket office. At bigger stations, such as those in Shinjuku, Shibuya or Tokyo stations, English speaking staff will usually be on hand to assist you. When using a paper ticket to access the station platforms, simply insert it into the designated slot in the gates, and retrieve it when you walk through to the other side. Please keep hold of the train ticket as it must be used again to exit at your final destination.

    One cheap and convenient way to travel around Japan is to purchase a JR Rail Pass. You can purchase these before you travel from some UK travel agents or online, and they allow unlimited travel on JR train lines for designated time periods such as one week or two weeks - meaning you can take the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka, down to Hiroshima, or even up to Hokkaido. (There are some restrictions on which trains you can take, but these are minimal and do not impede your travel options).

    If you are planning to take the subway in Tokyo, it might be a good idea to invest in a Suica card, which can be used on most subway lines. These are the Japanese version of London's oyster cards - you simply purchase a card from a machine in the train station, and can top it up as you wish. You tap in and out of the gates at each station and it tells you how much the journey cost and your remaining balance as you pass through.
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