Japanese trains

As everyone knows, Japanese trains are world famous for their efficiency and punctuality.

There are many railway companies in Japan. The main one is the JR Group (Japan Railways Group) which is divided into JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, JR West, JR Central, JR East and JR Hokkaido. The company, overwhelmed by debts, went private in the late 1980s.

Besides the famous JR, which covers the whole of Japan, there are many other private companies that usually operate on small parts of the territory. Among the most ‘famous’ to tourists are Nankai (which operates the service between Kansai airport and Osaka), Keisei (from Ueno to Narita) and Tobu (from Tokyo to Nikko).
The fact that there are all these companies means that there is a vast railway network on Japanese soil.
Usually a tourist uses the JR lines (thanks to the Japan Rail Pass), but private lines can also be used.
Consequently with all these companies there are also more railway stations, in fact each company owns the tracks and stations.

At JR stations there are two separate entrances for local trains and Shinkansen.

To access the platforms you need a ticket, a pass (such as the Japan Rail Pass) or an IC Card.
You can buy your ticket at ticket machines, just check the table with the prices for the various destinations. If you take a ticket that costs less, but want to continue, don’t worry, you can make the ‘fare adjustment’ (at the ticket machines) before leaving the station.

Photos by Japanforeveryone.com


The ticket is not only needed to enter but also to leave.

For local trains, no seat reservation is needed, whereas for express trains, seat reservations and payment of a supplement may be required. If you take one of these trains, just go to the ‘Midori-no-madoguchi’ counter, which is indicated with the following green symbol.

For train timetables for all companies, consult the Navitime or Japan Transit Planner websites.


Seats on trains always face the direction of travel of the train. In fact, at the terminus the backrests can be moved. Same thing on Shinkansen trains, where there is a pedal to turn the seats 180°.