Train Travel in Japan

Information on getting around the country by train using the Japanese rail network...

The Japanese rail system has a reputation for efficiency, speed, cleanliness, safety and punctuality. Services range from small local trains to the bullet train (shinkansen), which can reach 300 Km per hour.

About 70 percent of trains are run by Japan Railways (JR) which has six regional companies. JR covers the country from north to south and also provides local services around major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.

In addition to JR's services, there is a huge network of private railways.

Tickets

Tickets for short distances can be bought at ticket machines at train stations while tickets for long distance travel and reservations (including the shinkansen) can be made at ticket offices at major stations. Seasonal discount tickets and passes can be bought at ticket offices. There are also many discount train tickets shops (kakuyasu kippu uriba) which sell train tickets.

All tickets have to be punched by hand at the barrier or inserted into a punching machine. Always keep the ticket as it must be returned once a destination is reached.

Japan Rail issues a monthly timetable and fares guide in Japanese. A shorter English version is available from Japan Travel Centre bureau counters and English bookshops.

Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail (JR) Pass allows unlimited travel on Japan Rail trains, buses and ferries for foreign visitors. Passes are available for seven, 14 and 21 days.

  • For further information about the JR Pass: Click here

Metro

There is a Metro system in all major Japanese cities: Fukuoka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo and Yokohama, for example. It is the fastest and most efficient way of getting around these cities.

Most stations have automatic ticket machines with a diagram explaining the routes in both Japanese and English, making it easy to find out which line to take and what the fare is.

Tickets are punched by hand at the train barrier or inserted into a punching machine. Always keep the ticket as it must be returned at the destination.

If a fare is not clearly shown, buy the cheapest ticket and on arrival at the destination, go to the fare adjustment machine (seisan-ki) or to the counter to pay the excess fare before exiting the barrier.

  • For further information about the Kyoto Metro: Click here
  • For further information about the Tokyo Metro: Click here