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Don’t Sweat It! Tips and Tricks to Deal with Missing the Last Train in Japan

Have you ever had so much fun touring famous sites and trying out various foods that, before you knew it, it was late at night? No matter how safe the place, it can be a bit unnerving to wander the streets until morning. That said, no need to worry, because with this article you will know what to do if you ever miss the last train while traveling in Japan!

A Word About the First and Last Train Departures in Japan

There is a substantial difference between the times of the last trains in urban and rural Japan. For example, when traveling from Shinjuku Station towards Shibuya on the JR Yamanote Line, the final departure on a weekend or holiday is at 1:00 am. Conversely, if you have just finished enjoying the Hirosaki Neputa Festival and wish to travel home to Aomori Station from Hirosaki Station (both in Aomori Prefecture), the final departure on a weekend or holiday is at 10:11 pm. It is important to be aware of the final departure time, particularly when you are venturing out to more rural areas. The first departure in the morning is also earlier in urban areas.

With that said, this article will now introduce you to some of the options that you have when you have missed the last train.

Taking a Taxi

The first transport option that may spring to mind when in this situation is a taxi.
Taxi fares differ by region, but in central Tokyo there is a generally a charge of 410 JPY for journeys of up to 1,052 meters for standard mid-sized taxis. Note, however, that fares are increased by 20% between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am.
In more rural areas, fares can be much higher, but taxis may be suitable for shorter distances in central Tokyo.

Using a Late-night Bus

If you are looking for a cheaper way to travel over longer distances than would be feasible with a taxi, you may want to consider a late-night bus. There are many routes that take people from the center of the city to suburban towns, however, there are also some options that may be of interest for tourists. For example, on Fridays (except when national holidays fall on a Friday), the Chiba Green Bus departs at 12:10 am from Shimbashi Station, reaching terminal 3 of Narita International Airport at 3:10 am and terminal 2 at 3:15 am. It costs 3,300 JPY to travel from Shimbashi Station to the second terminal of Narita Airport.

Staying in a Hotel

For those of you who would rather get some extra sleep than search for a means of getting home, you may want to look for a place to stay in the local area. If you use this chance to splurge on a top-class luxury hotel, it may make for a great memory of your trip later on.
For those who are looking for a cheaper option, business hotels offer rates between 5,000 and 8,000 JPY for a one night stay. Generally they provide simple rooms with a bed, TV, and modular bathroom.
For those on a tighter budget, for around 3,000 JPY you can stay at a capsule hotel - it's a unique Japanese experience! As the picture below shows, the capsules are just big enough to sleep one adult and can be fitted with a mattress or bed. Many capsule hotels also have large shared bathing areas. In the past, capsule hotels were reserved exclusively for male patrons, however in recent years the number of capsule hotels with spaces for female guests has been increasing.
There is also the option of a youth hostel. These hostels separate female and male patrons and feature bunk beds for guests at a cost of around 5,000 JPY per night.

All-night Karaoke

If I'm gonna spend money anyway, I might as well make the most of it rather than sleep! If this sounds like you, then how about renting a private karaoke room and spending the night there? If you choose to spend the night at a karaoke place in Shinjuku, you should get away with paying roughly 1,000 to 3,000 JPY, even if the charge depends on the facility and day of the week.

Renting a Private Booth at an Internet Cafe

If there are just one or two of you, then renting a booth at an internet cafe may be convenient. If you wish to stay in one from the time of the last train until 5:00 am, there are many cases in which you will be able to get away with paying between 1,000 and 2,000 JPY. Most of these cafes feature simple and small booths with a reclining chair and a desktop PC, however recently there are more of these establishments that offer services such as showers and lockable booths. Some even have capsules like capsule hotels, making them much more hospitable to travellers.

Taking a Snooze After a Bath in a Super Sento or Sauna

Saunas and super sento (bath houses) are recommended for those who want to soothe their tired bodies after a night out in town. They also offer the chance to get some sleep after warming up in a large bath. Some of these facilities even have baths with natural onsen (hot spring) water!
In most of these establishments, there are only sofas and reclining chairs, so you will not be able to lie down to sleep. However, they are perfect for those of you who wish to relax and rest your eyes until morning.

Persevering Until Morning at a 24-Hour Family Restaurant or Fast-Food Joint

If you are in the center of a busy urban area, you are sure to find a family restaurant or fast-food joint nearby to a train station. There is also the option of killing time drinking coffee at a shop until the first train of the morning departs.

Drinking at a Bar or Izakaya Until Dawn

You end up having so much fun drinking that you inadvertently miss the last train! If you end up in this situation, why not head to another bar or izakaya and keep the party going until morning? Not only are there a number of bars where you can drink until the early morning, but there are even some places that are open 24 hours a day. If you are having fun drinking with your friends, the first train will be ready to depart in what feels like no time at all.

Dance the Night Away at a Club

When you think of going out for the night, many of us think of clubs. Why not dance the night away at a night club? In Shibuya and Roppongi in Tokyo, you can find many clubs that are open all night. You are unlikely to find all-night clubs in more rural areas, so this tip is more relevant to those who have missed the last train in a more urban area.

A Tip for Those Who Don't Want to Give up on Boarding the Last Train

All of the tips provided up until this point have been for those who have missed the last train, but how about those who are desperate to make it home? Here is a special tip for those who don't want to give up on making the last train.
Kyoto is home to what is dubbed the "Cinderella Cross", a romantic sounding term for a way to change over trains. At Karasuma Oike Station, the Karasuma and Tozai subway lines meet and one must wait for the other to arrive before departing. This takes about 3 minutes and after this time, four trains from two lines going in four different directions all take off at the same time. This takes place at precisely 11:55 pm. It's just like Cinderella running to her pumpkin cart to get home! However, don't be like Cinderella - be sure to leave nothing behind.

Even if you miss the last train, there are a lot of ways to pass the night. Keep this article on hand and you will be sure to make it to the following morning!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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