Japan’s railway system, recurrently hailed as the very best on this planet, connects the nation’s main cities, islands, landmarks, cities, and villages, and is undoubtedly probably the most handy and reasonably priced option to discover this unimaginable place.

Understanding the best way to navigate Japan’s railways is, due to this fact, completely important to taking advantage of your time on this particular nation and having the easiest journey expertise. If you wish to see as a lot of Japan as you may and make each second depend, then we are able to inform you how with our professional ideas for navigating the nation’s quick, environment friendly, and clear railway system.

We’ll clarify the whole lot it is advisable to know, from practice varieties, seat lessons, and shopping for tickets, to why a Japan Rail Move is such a wise funding, in our complete practice journey information.

Right here’s an summary:

Get Your JR Move

We extremely advocate getting the JR Move for limitless practice journey in Japan. Right here’s why:

Limitless Journey: Take pleasure in limitless entry to most JR railways, together with high-speed Shinkansen, native trains, and buses.

Price Financial savings: Save considerably on journey prices, significantly helpful for long-distance and a number of journeys.

Simplicity: Keep away from the effort of buying particular person tickets by utilizing your move to simply entry trains.

Flexibility: Expertise the liberty to discover spontaneously with out worrying about additional ticket prices.

Extra Advantages: Profit from extras like free reserved seat bookings and reductions on different JR transport providers.

Get your JR Move now!

Japan’s Railway System: An Overview

Quick, secure, environment friendly, and clear, Japan’s trains are the whole lot you’ve heard and extra.

Additionally they join the whole nation, from the northernmost island to the southernmost, enabling vacationers to achieve in every single place they could wish to go to in Japan. In fact, a practice system this large and complicated can appear a bit daunting for first-time guests and that’s the place we are available.

How you can Navigate Japan’s Railway System: Sorts, Tickets & Ideas

Let’s begin by supplying you with a fast overview of the rail system and some key info

  • Japan’s Railways are operated by the JR (Japan Railways) Group. The JR Group consists of six unbiased practice operators (JR Hokkaido, JR Central, JR East, JR West, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu). Collectively, these regional rail corporations join Japan’s six principal islands. There are additionally smaller personal corporations who run extra providers.
  • Wish to see a map of the entire JR community? We’ve put collectively an interactive map of the community’s 4,800 practice stations and 23,000 km of rail traces, which provides an excellent useful resource for anybody planning to discover Japan by practice.
Japan's railway system

Practice Sorts

There are a selection of various practice varieties in Japan, from the well-known and futuristic Shinkansen bullet trains to quaint native providers.

  • Shinkansen
    The well-known ‘bullet trains’ (the nickname comes from the bullet-shaped nostril of their unique design) join Japan’s principal islands, from town of Sapporo within the north to Kagoshima within the south. In between these two stops, these unimaginable high-speed trains go to nearly all of Japan’s main cities – Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and plenty of extra. The Shinkansen are solely operated by the JR Group and have separate ticket gates and platforms. Touring on a bullet practice is an attraction in itself for a lot of guests to Japan. Take a look at: The Full Information to Experiencing the Shinkansen Excessive-Velocity Trains in Japan
  • Restricted Specific
    The quickest non-Shinkansen trains in Japan. Restricted Specific trains are nonetheless very quick and solely cease at main stations. There are greater than 100 differing kinds.
  • Specific
    One other quick service. Specific trains cease at fewer stations than Fast or Native trains to achieve principal locations sooner.
  • Fast
    Primarily a sooner model of the native trains beneath. These trains skip some minor stations to attain a sooner service. No seat reservations are wanted on fast trains.
  • Native
    Common trains that cease at each station. Native trains value the identical as fast trains above. These trains additionally don’t have seat reservations.
  • Particular trains
    These are generally called ‘joyful’ trains in Japan and are particular trains and providers typically primarily based round characters, particular occasions, or themes, from Mickey Mouse to restaurant trains and resort excursions. These typically include large view home windows, particular consolation seats, drinks and meals, and might also contain actions equivalent to a cellular artwork gallery, native dancing, and even sake tasting.
A train in Japan

Seat Courses

Whereas touring on Japan’s trains, there are usually two principal kinds of seat lessons, though a 3rd, gran class, is offered on some Shinkansen trains.

  • Unusual
    These are customary seats. Japan’s bizarre seats are snug, spacious, and clear.
  • Inexperienced Automobile / Inexperienced Class
    The equal of top quality with extra luxurious seating and further house. Inexperienced vehicles will be recognized with a four-leaf inexperienced clover image on the carriage. Extras embrace drinks, oshibori, hand towels and sweet.
  • Gran Class
    Enterprise-class type luxurious seating with perks like eye masks, sake, sashimi, blankets and therapeutic massage seats. Gran class is simply accessible on sure Shinkansen trains.
Inside a train in Japan

Introducing: The Japan Rail Move

The Japan Rail Move supplies limitless journey on the whole nationwide JR community, together with the high-speed bullet practice traces and transport to and from the nation’s airports.

Whether or not you’re planning to discover the entire nation or simply journey from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka and again once more (for instance), a JR Move can supply a lot better worth than buying particular person tickets – and it’s solely accessible for worldwide guests.

Passes are legitimate for 7, 14, or 21 days as soon as activated and provide you with entry to all Japan Railways Group (JR) trains, buses, and ferry providers throughout Japan. This contains the well-known Shinkansen bullet trains. One of many many advantages of the JR Move – alongside limitless journey on JR trains and the Shinkansen – is free reservations and seat choice. Having a move means you’ll additionally have the ability to hop on and off trains as wanted with out having to purchase a ticket, which supplies you an enormous quantity of additional flexibility as a traveler. You’ll be able to even improve your JR Move to a Inexperienced Class JR Move for limitless first-class journey. 

Japan Rail Passes will be purchased as much as three months prematurely and must be activated in your arrival in Japan. Regional JR passes are additionally accessible in the event you’re positively solely visiting one space of Japan. Lastly, it’s also possible to buy particular person tickets for single and return journeys from self-service ticket machines or ticket counters at stations, though it’s price noting even in the event you’re solely planning on utilizing the practice a few times throughout your keep, it would nonetheless be higher worth to make use of a JR Move. 

Associated learn: Touring by Rail in Japan with JR Move

A train in Japan

Prime Ten Journey Ideas for Japan’s Railways

Alongside the detailed data we’ve already supplied, we’ve additionally put collectively a listing of professional ideas for Japan’s railways that will help you have the very best journey expertise.

1. Planning makes good

The extra time you spend planning your practice journeys earlier than you arrive in Japan, the much less time you’ll waste on the bottom. When you do your analysis prematurely to work out the very best and most effective practice journeys to achieve the locations most necessary to you you then’ll spend extra time having fun with the vacation spot and fewer time travelling. 

2. Arrive early, by no means late

Japan’s trains are extremely punctual and nearly all the time depart on time so it’s quite a bit higher to be early than late. Arrive on the station in loads of time and also you’ll be fantastic. In actual fact, you’ll be amazed at how well timed Japan’s trains are in comparison with the remainder of the world!

3. Trendy expertise is your buddy

The likes of Google Maps, Navitime, and Jorudan, will be extraordinarily helpful for stay updates whenever you’re out and about. Make sure you spend money on a PocketWifi gadget earlier than you journey nonetheless to remain linked to the web whenever you want it. PocketWifi leases supply limitless Wifi from any location, and on as much as 5 units, permitting you to navigate and examine stay timetable updates on the go. Learn extra about standard apps in our information to Hyperdia alternate options

4. Discover the precise departure platform 

One fast tip that may be a lifesaver when in a rush is studying to search out the precise departure platform. There will be numerous data on each your ticket and the departure screens, like practice title, stops, sort of service and rather more. A quick option to discover the precise platform is to have a look at the departure instances first, then take a look at the whole lot else. An alternate is to ask what platform your practice will depart from when reserving the tickets and ask the workers to write down this in your ticket.

A train station in Japan
How you can Navigate Japan’s Railway System: Sorts, Tickets & Ideas

5. Pay attention to Japanese practice etiquette

Japan is understood for valuing good manners and its etiquette guidelines positively lengthen to coach journeys. Hold your telephone on silent, attempt to keep away from taking calls if doable, take heed to music via headphones solely, maintain your voice down whereas speaking, eliminate your litter, and retailer your baggage accurately, are all good primary ideas if you wish to keep within the good graces of Japanese commuters.

Associated learn: Japanese Etiquette: How you can Act Like You’re Japanese

6. Examine your baggage allowance

Baggage rules on most of Japan’s trains are pretty relaxed. Usually, you could deliver any measurement or variety of baggage inside cause, so long as it doesn’t inconvenience different passengers. The one exception is the Shinkansen bullet trains, which do have extra formal baggage rules.

When boarding the Shinkansen, the next rules apply: Chances are you’ll deliver as much as two items of luggage on board freed from cost. For every bag the entire of the size, width and peak should not exceed 250 centimetres, the size should not exceed two metres and the burden should be not more than 30 kilograms.

  • Baggage items lower than 160 cm (sum of peak x size x width) will be introduced aboard with out prior reservation.
  • For baggage items between 160 cm – 250 centimeters, a previous reservation is required, which will be made without cost. In case no reservation is made, then a 1,000 yen fantastic will likely be charged, and your baggage could also be moved by the practice conductor.
  • Baggage over 250 centimeters will not be introduced on the practice and can want various transportation. Reservations will be made without cost via the Eki-Internet App, at a ticket machine or in individual at a ticket window.
  • Utilizing the JR Move, we advise making your seat reservations and baggage reservations on the identical time. JR Move holders who improve to Inexperienced Class get an additional baggage allowance of two suitcases per individual.
  • Lastly, when you have particularly giant baggage, you could wish to think about using the lockers at stations or baggage forwarding providers. 
Inside one of the trains on Japan's railway system
How you can Navigate Japan’s Railway System: Sorts, Tickets & Ideas

7. Reserved vs non-reserved

Relying on the kind of practice you’re touring on, you’ll come throughout providers with reserved and non-reserved carriages.

The latter merely means you may sit anyplace inside these carriages when you have a non-reserved ticket. In reserved carriages, you will have to pre-book your seat reservation prematurely. Reservations are free for JR Move holders and will be made at ticket workplaces. We have now extra detailed data on reserving seats additional beneath, so maintain studying.

It’s a good suggestion to order a seat in the event you can. Seat reservations with no rail move can value anyplace between 200 and 1,000 yen every, however they’re free with the JR Move, which is one other good cause to contemplate shopping for one in your journey.

Making a reservation not solely saves cash, it additionally saves time, as there’s no have to queue for a seat on the station platform. Additionally, you will have the peace of mind that you may sit collectively along with your fellow vacationers. All reserved seats are assured.

8. E-book forward (or keep away from touring) throughout busy durations

Every day, you could wish to keep away from commuter rush-hour durations, that are just like these in different nations (8 am-9 am and 5 pm-7 pm). In any other case, you’ll additionally need to concentrate on vacation durations when trains is likely to be absolutely booked. These embrace New 12 months, Obon, and Golden Week, that are widespread holidays in Japan. The well-known Cherry Blossom season is one other busy time of yr in Japan for vacationers.

Key dates to be careful for are 28 December to six January (New 12 months), 27 April to six Could (Golden Week), and 11-20 August (Obon season). The identical goes for festivals, just like the Gion Matsuri in July, the Takayama Pageant from April 14-15 and Tokushima Pageant August 12-15.

Typically talking, reserving forward and making seat reservations is an effective method to make sure you have a seat no matter time of yr it’s. 

Orange train in Japan

9. You’ll want a pay as you go journey card for Japan’s subways

Alongside a JR Move for countrywide journey, a pay as you go journey card for inner-city journeys is a should! These IC playing cards – just like London’s Oyster card system – are the simplest option to get round Japanese cities utilizing wonderful public transportation.

As such, you’ll positively wish to spend money on a pay as you go journey card equivalent to an ICOCA, PASMO or Suica card. IC playing cards like these will be topped up and refunded as wanted and so they work by tapping or waving them over the cardboard reader as you move via the ticket gates.

As a bonus tip (and never only for practice journey), remember to carry money the place you may in Japan as bodily money remains to be used quite a bit throughout the nation.

10. Take a second to get pleasure from Japan’s trains and practice stations

Each Japan’s trains and stations are distinctive, state-of-the-art, and filled with issues to see and do. They aren’t simply transport hubs or technique of transport to get from A to B, they’re an expertise in themselves.

Ensure you take a while to cease, go searching, and luxuriate in each the stations and trains themselves as a part of your journey. Some stations are main complexes filled with outlets, eating places, and amenities, for instance, whereas others are picturesque, quaint, and nostalgic.

You’ll additionally discover the world’s finest practice meals at stations – Ekiben. Pronounced ‘air key ben’, the Japanese phrase ‘Ekiben’ is a portmanteau of the kanji symbols for ‘practice station’ and ‘boxed meal’ i.e. ‘station-bento’. Its title completely describes what it’s – a lunch field bought at practice stations for consuming throughout your rail journey. Learn our Information to Ekiben for extra.

Equally, Japanese trains, significantly the Shinkansen, include options equivalent to onboard drinks and snacks providers, energy retailers for telephone charging and laptop computer use, seats that may rotate 180 levels, and extra.

Relating to getting round Japan’s practice stations, shopping for tickets, and boarding trains, you could be pleasantly stunned to find it’s a lot simpler and fewer daunting than you could suppose. You is likely to be stunned to know that Japanese practice stations have indicators and departure boards in English in addition to Japanese. You may additionally see indicators in Chinese language and Korean, reflecting the nation’s standing as a world journey vacation spot. 

Getting tickets at a train station in Japan

How you can Reserve Seats & Board the Practice

Japan’s trains have each non-reserved and reserved seats in separate vehicles. Sure providers are absolutely reserved, and others could also be switched to completely reserved throughout nationwide holidays just like the New 12 months, Obon, or Golden Week, so remember to examine earlier than you journey.

If you’re touring with a Japan Rail Move then one of many many benefits of that is that you may make advance seat reservations without cost. Seats will be reserved freed from cost at Midori no Mado Guchi ticket workplaces, recognizable by their inexperienced signal, or at Journey Service Centres and JR-associated Journey Businesses.

For a number of years, JR East trains have been the one service that has provided a web based English language reservation system, which might be used to make bookings from outdoors of Japan, with all different traces requiring in-person reservations as soon as in Japan. To order a seat, merely take your JR Move to the Midori no Mado Guchi, specify which practice you want to reserve a seat on, stating smoking or non-smoking. You’ll then obtain your reserved seat ticket and easily want to point out your JR Move on the ticket gate and go to your platform.

Make sure you maintain maintain of your ticket as you’ll have to current each your JR Move and seat reservation to the ticket inspector. 

So far as boarding a practice goes, it’s comparatively easy – after arriving on the station, you will have to undergo the common ticket gates into the paid fare zone and head to the platform. Please observe in the event you’re touring on a Shinkansen practice there will likely be a second set of ticket gates. Shinkansen additionally has its personal devoted platforms.

You’ll discover your carriage quantity in your ticket. Carriage numbers will also be discovered printed on the bottom and hanging from indicators (non-reserved carriages are often numbered 1-5). Line up behind the white line and wait in your practice. As soon as the practice arrives, enter your carriage and discover your seat (seat numbers are indicated above the window). In any other case, you may sit in any seat if it’s an unreserved carriage.

After that, merely sit again and loosen up!

Shinjuku Station in Japan

  • Japan Rail Pass

    Discover Japan with a Japan Rail Move. Limitless journey on Japan Rail trains, buses and ferries. With our vibrant on-line neighborhood, devoted professional help staff and sophistication main value, service and supply speeds.

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