How to use Japanese Trains

Japanese trains are unlike any other in the world. Sure, they may have the same models as other countries, but no country matches the excellent service you receive on a Japanese train. 

As you may or may not know, the Japanese are a very precise nation and love consistency. Japanese trains are no exception. The majority of trains in Japan are usually always on time, operating down to the exact second for arrival and departure. A lot of people have concerns about using trains in Japan, which is why we are here telling you how to use Japanese trains.

1.Getting a Ticket

First, before you even get on a train, you need to buy a train ticket. For most standard trains (non-bullet trains, or special trains such as the Shimakaze, Thunderbird, etc.) you can purchase your tickets via the ticket machine. It will almost always have a huge map on the train lines pictured above the terminals, so it’s easy to spot. From there, you can select the English option, and the select the station that you are travelling to, insert your yen into the slots, and the ticket will pop out the bottom of the machine. 

Grab your ticket and head to the gates to get to the boarding area.

2. Gates

Once you get your ticket from the machine, you will need to put it in the slot at the gate. If you have a rail pass, you will need to go and tap the pass on the little circle on the gate, that will activate it for you. Once your ticket has been authorized, you can pick up the ticket from the opposite end of the gate once the doors have been opened for you. 

From there, you will need to keep your ticket in a safe place, like your wallet or the inside of your phone case, you don’t want to loose your ticket. 

3. Platforms numbers

Once you are through the gates, you will need to find the platform you are on. The tickets will only let you know the destination station, but it is up to you to determine which platform you need to be standing on. In the larger cities, it can be a little confusing as there is a seemingly endless amount of train lines going everywhere. Luckily for you, there are station maps placed around the station to help you navigate your way to the platform you need to be on.

In the small cities and towns, the trains are a lot easier as there might only be 2 platforms, one going left and the other going right so they are super simple – just make sure you get on the right train. 

4.Wait for Train

Once you’re on the correct platform, all you need to do is wait for your train to arrive. There will be an overhead sign with a clock that will say what time the various trains that stop at the station will depart at. Make sure that you board the correct train on the correct line, it will say the line you need to take on the ticket, so just match up the Kanji with what it will say on the overhead board and you will be on your way. There is also English displayed on the train boards to help you know which is the correct train. When the train arrives, simply board and find an available spot for you to sit/stand.

5. Train Etiquette

 Seats near the door, are priority seating, used for the elderly, pregnant, disabled, or injured. If you are sitting in one of these seats and someone matching that description, please ensure you stand up and offer your seat to them. 

Sleeping on trains in Japan is perfectly normal. A lot of people work long hours or wake up at early times, and by the end of the day, people are pretty tired. And so, don’t be surprised if you see anyone asleep during your commute. 

Morale of the story is, make sure that you are respectful of the others on the train.

6. Arriving at Destination

When you arrive at your destination station, you will hear an announcement on the train detailing what station you are arriving at, and what side the doors will open on. Once you are off the train, get your ticket handy and make your way to the nearest exit of the station. 

You will come across the same style of gate that you would have passed through during step 2, and it’s the exact same process – insert ticket, and walk through the gates. This time you will not receive your ticket back on the other side.

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