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Tips & Manners

Getting the Most Out of Train Travel in Japan, with Discount Tickets and Insider Knowhow

2015.12.15

Writer name : Yoshiaki Hirota

No matter where to, in Japan, trains are the way to go. Here’s some quick and dirty tips for the visitor traveling around Japan.



Japan is known as having one of the world's most developed railway systems. Foreign visitors are often surprised that “the trains come on time!” “there are so many of them,” “they're so clean,” and “you can go anywhere on them!” And with the information presented here, including details of exclusive discount tickets, there's no excuse not to use this super-convenient service.

Travelers' discount tickets and unrivaled convenience

Japan is known as having one of the world's most developed railway systems. Foreign visitors are often surprised that “the trains come on time!” “there are so many of them,” “they're so clean,” and “you can go anywhere on them!” And with the information presented here, including details of exclusive discount tickets, there's no excuse not to use this super-convenient service.

For those visitors hoping to see a lot of places, there is no more convenient service than the train system. Though some might say they are relatively expensive, there are several types of traveler discount tickets available which are definitely worth checking out.
If you're staying in Tokyo we recommend the “Tokyo Subway Ticket.” Go to Haneda Airport's Tourist Information Center or Narita Airport's Keisei Bus Ticket Counter, show your passport and proof that you're a tourist and get a special discount on subway travel throughout the city. A 1-day pass is 800 JPY, 2-day is 1,200 JPY and 3-day is 1,500 JPY, and with this you have unlimited access to all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines and stations. The ticket can also be purchased in town. For more details, check the website below available in English, Chinese (traditional & simplified), Korean,and Thai languages.

Travelers' discount tickets and unrivaled convenience

Keep a look out for other discount ticket offers!

Can only be purchased before entering Japan.

It's easy to buy a ticket, but beware of crowded trains!



The above-mentioned discount tickets are available through special counters, but normal tickets can be purchased at regular machines. Their operation couldn’t be easier – just insert the amount of money corresponding to your chosen destination and press the button. Today there are railroad diagrams above the ticket machines at most stations, on which both Japanese and alphabetized station names and fares are displayed.
Of course if anything is unclear you can always ask a station attendant, and while their English may not be perfect they will always do their best to help!
More importantly than buying a ticket, it pays to know when is the best time to take a train. Particularly during morning and evening rush hours, people get packed together so closely it may be difficult to breathe! Visitors are often shocked to see how crowded a commuter train can get, and depending on the line it can truly be an uncomfortable experience. This is particularly the case for trains headed into the city center, so if possible it is best to avoid the 7:30am - 9:00am peak time. Similarly, these same commuters will be heading away from the center between 5:00pm-8:00pm, so try and avoid such routes at those times too! That is unless you want to experience the daily ritual of a Japanese businessman – which may make a good story for your friends back home!

The quirks of Japanese trains

Finally, let's look at some of the quirks of Japanese train travel that tend to intrigue most visitors.
(1) Lots of passengers are phone obsessed. Though making voice calls is prohibited, you will still see row upon row of people tapping away on their smartphones seemingly oblivious to the world around them. No wonder this seems a little strange to foreign visitors.
(2) There is an unspoken rule that alighting passengers are always given priority. Letting people off the train before getting on is not exactly obligatory, but it is polite!
(3) On the escalators inside the train station, make sure to leave one side open for people hurrying to get up or down. In Tokyo people stand to the left, in Osaka the right. Nobody knows why! If in doubt, just look to see what the person ahead is doing.

If you know what you're doing, Japan's railway system is an incredibly convenient service. Far cheaper than a taxi, trains allow you to explore and find interesting spots that may not have been on your radar. Full speed ahead!

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