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How to buy railway tickets

Fare of JR ticket

Ordinary car of ShinkansenOrdinary car of Shinkansen

Ordinary train ticket

When you take a JR train, you must buy an ordinary train ticket.
Of course, the fare is fixed according to the traveling distance.

For example (in 2017), the fare between Tokyo and Shinjuku is 200 yen (10.3km) and the fare between Tokyo and Kyoto is 8,210 yen (513.6km).

Children fare

When you travel with your child, you must buy child ticket.
"Child fare" is applied to the elementary school student of under 12 years old.
The price is half of adult fare.

If your child is under 6 years old and a preschool-child, the fare is free.

For example (in 2017), the child fare between Tokyo and Shinjuku is 100 yen and the fare between Tokyo and Kyoto is 4,110 yen.

Limited express fare

When you want to travel around Japan efficiently, you use limited express train.
When you use limited express train, you need to buy "limited express ticket" in addition to ordinary train ticket.

The fare is also fixed according to the traveling distance.
And Shinkansen is a special limited express of JR, so a little more expensive price is set than the limited express of regular JR lines.

For example (in 2017), the fare between Tokyo and Kyoto is 8,210 yen and the Shinkansen limited express fare (use "Nozomi") is 5,700 yen. The total price is 13,910 yen.

Basically, when you use limited express, the seat is reserved.
But many of limited expresses have a few non-reserved car.
Of course, because your seat isn't reserved, you may be forced to stand until any seats is open when the car is crowded.
The fare is 520 yen cheaper than reserved-seat fare.

For example (in 2017), the fare between Tokyo and Kyoto is 8,210 yen and the Shinkansen limited express non-reserved seat fare (use "Nozomi") is 5,180 yen. The total price is 13,390 yen.

Green car fare

Mark of Green CarMark of Green Car

JR train has "Ordinary car" and "Green car".

Green car may be called as "First-class" in many countries.
The seat is a little more luxurious than ordinary car.

Shinkansen and most limited express trains has a few Green cars in each train.
And some JR commuter trains in Tokyo area have two Green cars in each train.

The seats of Green CarThe seats of Green Car

When you want to sit in a Green Car, you need to add Green Car ticket.
It is also fixed according to the traveling distance.

For example (in 2017), when you go from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen Nozomi, the ordinal fare is 13,910 yen as above.
If you use Green Car, the Green car ticket is 5,300 yen, so the total fare is 19,210 yen.

Because Green Car is expensive, it is relatively quiet.

Local train and Rapid train

Relatively uncrowded commuter trainRelatively uncrowded commuter train

Around big cities, JR operates "Rapid train".
Rapid train stops only at main stations, so it is faster than local train.
You can use rapid train with only ordinary ticket like local train.

I advise you.

When you take a commuter train around Tokyo and Osaka areas from 6:30 A.M. to around 9:00 A.M. on weekdays, all trains are very crowded and are jammed with commuters.
Basically, most Japanese commuters go to work by public transportation.
Moreover, they take more an hour to reach their workplaces.
The area that the trains are crowded is very wide.

If you plan to travel around Tokyo and Osaka, you should think the time periods.

Basically all trains are "No smoking" in Japan

Even if you are a smoker, please don't smoke in any train.
When you take a train of Shinkansen or limited express, you may find an area for smoking at the edge of the car.

How to buy JR tickets

Short distance ticket

Ticket machines at a JR stationTicket machines at a JR station

When you travel around a big city, you often buy a ticket to the station within the city.

But, even when you visit the ticket office, the clark probably says "Please buy the ticket from ticket machine".

When you buy the short-distance ticket, please use ticket machine basically.

The way to buy the ticket from ticket machine is as follows.

  1. On the board of route map, find the station that you want to go.
    And check the fare to the station.
  2. Select and push the button that the fare is displayed on the screen of ticket machine.
  3. Insert the money.
  4. Pick up the ticket.

The ticket machine usually display in Japanese.
So, change your favorite language (English, Chinese, etc.) as the first operation.

Long distance ticket, limited express ticket

When you want to get long distance ticket or limited express ticket, please visit the ticket office.
You can get the ticket of all JR trains within one month.

Recently, there are the ticket machine to buy the reserved-seat ticket of Shinkansen and limited express.
Of course, you input the infos by yourself: travel date, name of train, boarding section, number of adult and children, ordinary car or Green car, no-smoking or smoking, etc.

How to pass a ticket gate

Ticket gateTicket gate

Automatic ticket gates are installed at most stations in Japan.
If the backside of your ticket is brown or black, you can pass the ticket gate by the ticket.

Insert the ticket into the gate machine, and the gate opens.
Then you pass the gate.
Don't forget to pick up your ticket after passing the gate!

Now many Japanese passengers use the ticket of IC card.
When you use such ticket, you have only to touch the part of IC mark on the machine with the IC card.

In either case, if you mistakenly use it, an alarm sounds.
Don'y worry. A station officer comes soon and helps you.

If your ticket is not above type, go to the gate where station officers stand.

How to buy the tickets of the other railway companies

When you use the railway company other than JR, the way to buy and use the ticket is the same as JR.

Most railway companies has no car with reserved seat and Green car.
And limited expresses of the companies need no limited express fare. Therefore, you have only to buy an ordinary train ticket.

The limited expresses of Tobu and Kintetsu, and the airport limited expresses of Keisei, Meitetsu, Nankai need limited express fare.