Trains

TRAINS

Transportation - Trains

  • The railway system in Japan has a positive reputation for its great safety and punctuality records.

    The train fare varies naturally depending on the distance you travel as well as the type of train you wish to catch. There are several types of service including Local (trains which stop at each destination on a route) Limited Express (trains which stop at some stations), Express (faster trains which usually run straight through to the final destination) etc. There are also different types of carriages: ordinary, green car (first class) and also gran class (which is even more spacious than first class and can be found on some bullet trains). The unreserved seating carriages will be indicated on the platform screens. In Japan, it is customary to line up in the specified areas which align with the doors of the train once it has arrived. If you're travelling in unreserved seating carriages during busy periods, such as New Year or during cherry blossom season, it can be wise to arrive at the station early to secure your place in the queue.

    Tickets for short distances are available from ticket machines that are installed at each train station, whereas tickets for long distances and reservations are dealt with at ticket offices at major stations.

    If there is no fare chart in English, you can buy the cheapest ticket indicated on the ticket machine and adjust the fare on a machine near the gates at your destination. This ensures you don't pay more than necessary for your ticket.

    Most stations display station names in both Japanese and in English.

    Most, if not all, trains stop operating around midnight.
  • JAPAN RAILWAYS (JR)

    Japan's leading railway company, Japan Railways (JR) cover most of the country.

    The Shinkansen (bullet train) is the world famous super express train, which fascinates Japanese and foreign visitors alike with its high speed and comfort. It operates between major cities at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. These high speed trains make it possible to travel the length of Japan, even if you are planning a short stay of only one or two weeks.

    To book tickets for long-distance trains you can visit the ticket offices in major stations, such as Tokyo, Shinjuku or Shibuya station. It is also possible to make seat reservations with your JR pass. This website gives specific instructions on how to reserve a seat on a JR train. One of the best websites for researching train times in Japan is: www.hyperdia.com, which is kept up to date and offers all information in English.
  • SHINKANSEN (BULLET TRAIN)


    The shinkansen has several lines. The Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen, which links Tokyo and Hakata Station in Fukuoka, is the one that many travellers use. The Tohoku shinkansen links Tokyo and Hachinohe (Aomori Pref.), the Johetsu shinkansen links Tokyo and Niigata, the Nagano shinkansen links Tokyo and Nagano, and the Kyushu Shinkansen in Kyushu presently links Shinyatsushiro (Kumamoto Pref.) and Kagoshima Chuo (Kagoshima Pref). As of March 2016, the Hokkaido shinkansen links Tokyo to Shinhokuto Hakodate station in Hokkaido.

    Types of seat

    There are three or four types of seat depending on which train you are riding: non-reserved seats, reserved seats, green car seats (first class) and gran class seats (first class but even more spacious).

     

    The best way to plan your journeys is to use this website: www.hyperdia.com.

  • NIGHT TRAINS

    There are a number of overnight train services which operate on the main island of Honshu, as well as services which link Shikoku and Hokkaido.

    Seats on night trains are covered by the JR pass (please note that note all night trains have seats), but it does not cover shared or private compartments. You have to pay for these separately and also pay the (limited) express fee of around 3,000 yen and in some instances additional fees on top of this.

    The most popular night travel for travellers tends to be the Hokutosei and Cassiopeia trains that run from Ueno station in Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaido.

    Other night trains are:
    • Hanamasu (Aomori-Sapporo) – Covered by JR Pass
    • Akebono (Ueno-Aomori) – Covered by JR Pass
    • Moonlight Echigo (Shinjuku-Niigata)
    • Moonlight Shinshu (Shinjuku-Matsumoto)
    • Twilight Express (Osaka-Sapporo)
    • Nihonkai (Osaka-Aomori)
    • Kitaguni (Osaka-Niigata) – Covered by JR Pass
    • Moonlight Nagawa (Tokyo-Ohgaki)
    • Sunrise Izumo (Tokyo-Okayama-Izumo) – Covered by JR Pass
    • Sunrise Seto (Tokyo-Okayama- Takamatsu) – Covered by JR Pass

    You can make reservations for night trains at JR tickets offices. For more information visit, www.japan-guide.com.

Transportation - Trains - Q & A

  • Q & A


    Q: IT IS INCONVENIENT IF I HAVE TO PURCHASE A TICKET EVERY TIME I RIDE A TRAIN. IS THERE ANY BETTER WAY?

    A: There are some convenient card ticketing systems in Japan which can be topped up and used to tap in and out of gates as you would with an Oyster card in London. It's normally possible to use these cards on multiple forms of transportation. Presently there are no common cards which can be used nationwide, but there are various types of cards which can be used in different local areas: such as the Tokyo area “SUICA” or “PASMO” and the Osaka area “ICOCA” or “KANSAI THRU PASS.”
  • Q: WHAT ARE “WOMEN-ONLY PASSENGER CARS”?

    A: “Women-only passenger cars,”
    Operating mainly during rush hours between 7:30 am to 9:30 am, are railway or subway cars on which male are not allowed. It might be embarrassing for male passengers if they mistakenly get on one of these, so please pay attention to the signs indicating “women-only passenger cars” during rush hours.
  • Q: WHAT DO I DO IF I LEFT MY BELONGINGS ON THE TRAIN?

    A: First of all, make sure you speak to staff in the closest station to where you lost your belongings. You can also try visiting the nearest 'koban' - police station - as this is where the belongings will most likely be brought by anybody who finds them
  • Q: WHAT IF I GET HUNGARY ON THE TRAIN?

    A: Food and drink is sold on the train.

    For long distance trains such as the shinkansen, there are venders and vending machines which sell food, snacks, drinks, and alcoholic beverages on the train. You may purchase a lunch, such as a sandwich, "onigiri" (rice-ball), or a special local lunch, an "Ekiben" (train station lunch) made with a local product of the district where the train passes. You are allowed to bring food on the train, but be careful if it has strong odour. If you are taking a short distance train, you are not allowed to eat food on the train.
  • Q: HOW DO I CHECK THE TIMETABLES AND FARES NATIONWIDE?

    A: There is “Plan, Check and Go!” on this website.

    All you need to do is to indicate your departure location and destination. The “Plan, Check and Go!” will show you the types of transportations, fares, times, and so on. Give it a try.

    Furthermore, timetable books available at ticket offices show all kinds of information regarding nationwide public transportation systems, such as railways, airplanes, express buses, ferries, and tour buses. These books will be a great help to you if you move around in Japan. Compact size books are sold at places like bookstores and station kiosks.
  • Q: ARE THERE ANY STATIONS AT WHICH TRAINS WON'T STOP?

    A: Yes, make sure of the line, your destination, and the kind of train (stations at which the train stops).

    There are several types of trains. In addition to the “Local (stops at all stations),” there are the “Limited Express,” the “Rapid,” the “Express,” and the “Special Express,” which won’t stop at the stations on the way to a destination. If you take the wrong train, the train might not stop at your destination station. Or it might take longer than you expected. Before you get on the train, please make sure of the type of train, and the stations that it stops at. If you take the wrong kind of train, check the station list which is shown on the train, or listen to the train announcement carefully.
  • Q: HOW DO I PURCHASE AND USE A JAPAN RAILWAY PASS?

    A: You can purchase a voucher for a railway pass at travel agencies

    Outside of Japan and exchange that for an actual pass at a ticket office in Japan. See the link of The Japan Railway Pass for further details. Please confirm the usage and purchase method before you buy one.

    Other Railways

    In addition to the JR Group, many other smaller railway companies operate train services on heavily travelled, mainly urban and suburban routes. These lines very often link the centre of a city and the residential areas at its outskirts. These rail lines are usually only convenient for commuters, but on occasions may offer speedier, more economical and more convenient routes than JR from nearby urban centres to popular spots such as Nikko, Hakone, Nara, and so forth. Please note that the JR Pass is not honoured on these lines.
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