Dummies Guide to Trains in Japan

Old Jul 19th, 2008, 10:11 PM
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Dummies Guide to Trains in Japan

I've traveled to Europe (London's Tube, Paris' Metro, etc.) and the U.S. (S.F.'s Bart, NY's subway, etc.) and have no trouble learning how their train system works. I am, however, VERY intimidated by Japan's train/subway system. Is there a resource, either online or a guide book, to mastering the train system in Japan? Thanks!
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Old Jul 19th, 2008, 10:23 PM
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I have traveled all the systems you have and more. I find Japan's rail systems a marvel and very easy to navigate.

Here are some useful websites you should study with answers to most of your questions.

for the Tokyo metro

If you had no problem with London or Paris you'll love the Japan train system. They are so good you can set your watch by them.

If you have any specific questions please ask


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Old Jul 20th, 2008, 12:01 AM
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I just got back from Japan a couple days ago with my 15-year old daughter.

For one thing, you may want to get a bi-lingual map of the rail system immediately when you arrive in Japan. If you purchase one at home before your trip, make sure you get the most recent printing that is up to date and includes all of the new train lines.

There are train masters at the stations that can also show you how to purchase tickets, calculate the price according to your destination, etc.

Check into getting a JR Suica card at the airport. Foreigners can purchase them at the Narita airport--I only found this out later and wish I had known about it. It will save you so much trouble in trying to figure out which ticket to purchase. It works like a debit card. Whenever you pass thru the gate, you just wave the card over the electric eye and it automatically deducts the correct amount needed when you exit at your destination. You just need to keep adding money onto the card from the JR machines in the stations as it gets depleted.

The ticket machines have an "English" button on the top right hand corner which will bring up the English screen. Wish I knew that earlier too!

If you don't have a Suica card and don't know which price ticket you need to purchase, always purchase the cheapest ticket and when you reach your destination simply go to the Fare Adjustment machine to calculate the additional amount you need to pay. You can also just go to the station attendent who will tell you the additional amount to pay. You don't get a refund if you buy a ticket that is overpriced for your destination.

Most of the stations in the city are bi-lingual, some even are tri-lingual with English and Korean signs. However, the further you venture out and away from the city limits, the signs may only be in Japanese. Your bi-lingual map will be helpful.

Where we live there are no train systems, and my daughter has never had to learn to use a train system before. Once she figured how the train system worked, she was able to travel around the city using either her Suica or buying tickets by herself with no problem.
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Old Jul 20th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Train system in Japan is a breeze. Offlady gives great advice. Bi-lingual map and a suica card and you are good to go.
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Old Jul 21st, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Thank you all so much for the wonderful advice. Will definitely follow it. It will be our first time traveling in Japan, Asia for that matter and you've put me at ease. Thanks again!
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Old Jul 25th, 2008, 06:14 AM
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Statia is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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There is an excellent book on the subject: Japan By Rail by Ramsey Zarifeh.

Heree is the table of contents:

You can see that it has lots of info. It is not a schedule. I am not recommending buying from that site.
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