Japanese Trains Made Simple #JapanTravel

Japanese Trains Made Simple #JapanTravel

Japan’s trains appear to possess superpowers. Rarely are they delayed. Few and far between are the accidents. Most are meticulously clean. 

The bullet “Shinkansen” trains are the fastest and the sleekest in the world. Elegance and grace are another hallmark of shinkansen. Conductors and tea trolley ladies bow upon entering a train car. The experience is sublime. When you are Japanese train savvy it’s even better.

In this post you’ll learn tips and words to keep you on track with your Japan travel plans.

If your ideal itinerary includes excursions to more than one town, you need the Japan Rail Pass. With the Japan Rail Pass (ジャパン・レール・パス)you’re able to travel anywhere in Japan. The pass also allows you to take the trains within a city. Whether you’re traveling two stops or twenty, you’re free to go where your heart desires. You simply flash the pass (politely) to the station employees (駅員さん) at the side of the ticket wickets. Voilà, your off to a day of enjoyment in Japan. (Private train lines do not allow the Japan Rail Pass.)

Here are a few links to help you easily obtain your Japan Rail Pass.

Japan Rail Pass
HIS Travel

3 Reasons People Don’t Buy the Japan Rail Pass.

1. Residents of Japan are not allowed to purchase a Japan Rail Pass.
(Seishun 18 Kippu and other seasonal discounts are available to those living in Japan.)

2. The fastest of the Shinkansen bullet trains, the Nozomi (のぞみ) and the Mizuho
(みずほ) are excluded for pass use. To ride the fast as lightning trains, separate tickets are needed. Honestly though, even the “slowest” of the Shinkansen, the Kodama (こだま) is pretty impressive.

3.If staying in Japan for less than 5 days and/or only staying in one city or town, the Japan Rail Pass is an unnecessary expenditure.

3 Reasons People Purchase the Suica Card in Tokyo and the ICOCA Card in Osaka.

1. The Suica in Tokyo and the ICOCA in Osaka (and similar cards in other cities) are popular with tourists and residents alike. The prepaid debit cards allow you to whisk through ticket wickets. Your fare is deducted from the card. If there isn’t enough money on the card, the wicket gates will not open for you at your destination. (It’s embarrassing but money can be added on the spot…Yes, I speak from experience.) 

2. Suica and ICOCA cards also allow for easy shopping. No more fumbling with change – hooray! 

3. The Suica and ICOCA cards can be used outside of Tokyo and Osaka.

For more info, here’s a great link.
Suica and ICOCA cards can be purchased at airports, convenience stores and from the Midori Window (みどりの窓口)at train stations.

As you travel by train in Japan, here are few words and phrases you’ll want to know.

Train  電車
Is this the train bound for ***?  ***行きの電車ですか。
Platform  ホーム
I want to go to ***. Is this platform all right? ***へ行きたいです。このホームで大丈夫ですか。
Where should I transfer?  どこで乗りかえたらいいでしょうか。
In order of speed: 
For Long Distance: 
Limited Express  特急
Reservations, comfy seating available 
Express   急行
Speeds by many stations  
Express  準急
Semi-express train  
For Local Trips: 
High Speed   快速
Speeds by many stations 
Local  各駅停車
Stops at every station 
Local is also called  普通
Stops at every station 
Buying Tickets: 
3 Types of Seats for Long Distance Travel: 
Green car  グリン車
Reserved and most comfortable 
(More legroom, wider seats.) 
Reserved seats  指定席
(Important if you're traveling to and from a famous site.
Also needed on and during Japanese holidays.)
Free (unreserved) seats  自由席
For long distance travel, you'll need 2 tickets:
Passenger ticket  乗車券
Special express ticket  特急券
I'd like passenger tickets and special express tickets for 2.  乗車券と特急券二人分をお願い致します。
I'd like 2 passenger tickets and 2 special express tickets.   乗車券と特急券二枚をお願い致します。
For overnight sleeper trains, you'll need 3 tickets:
Overnight train  寝台列車
A passenger ticket, special express ticket and an overnight train ticket.
Overnight train ticket  寝台券
I'd like a passenger ticket, a special express ticket and an overnight ticket for 1.   乗車券と特急券一人分をお願い致します。
I'd like passenger ticket, a special express ticket and an overnight ticket.   乗車券と特急券と寝台券をお願い致します。
For Local Trips: 
Passenger ticket  乗車券
Passenger ticket  切符
for traveling around town, 切符is more commonly used
Reserving Seats: 
At the Midori window  みどりの窓口
If possible, I'd like a window.  できれば窓の席をお願いします。
If possible, I'd like an aisle.  できれば通路う側の席をお願いします。


May happiness find you at every stop in Japan.

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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