For first time travellers and/or beginner in Japan, I will keep this post as simple as possible so that it is easy to understand. There is plenty of train type and IC card to use in Japan, I will not be covering it region by region as it will be too complicated. This post will cover the JR Line and IC card.
Different types of train
JR (Japan Rail)
Express Rail/Local Rail
Every region in Japan will have its own JR PASSES, and for tourists, the most well-known pass would be the JR RAIL PASS (Nation).
Where to buy a ticket?
How many types of JR Pass?
There are more than 10 different types of JR passes available in Japan and each region has their own passes.
Click on the map to know more about the JR passes available.
Japan Rail ( copy)
JR Rail pass is not suitable for travellers who are going to one region only. Example, a 7-day pass but only be covering Kansai area, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara.
However, if you are covering more than one place, Tokyo, Yokohama, Shizuoka, Osaka, Kyoto even down to Fukuoka. To save your money, you must at least have 3 stops or else this pass is totally a waste of money.
Each pass has its own terms and conditions, it is best to read carefully the fine prints so that you will not have to pay more than the ticket you have bought.
Reserve of seats
For JR Train
MIDORI WINDOW (Can be located inside or outside of the station)
IC CARDs is like Singapore’s EZ-link card. For other countries, it is like a transportation contact card.
How many types of IC CARD?
There are 10 IC Cards in Japan and in 2016, most of the region has open up to each other so that you do not need to buy another IC Card if you are in another region.
The initial cost consists of a refundable deposit of 500 JPY plus an initial amount (typically 1500JPY) to be charged onto the card.
Prices include a deposit of 500 JPY. The difference between the adult’s card and the child’s card is the amount deducted when using transportation.
When using a child’s Suica card, the child’s fare is deducted, and when using an adult’s Suica card, the adult’s fare is deducted.
Where to buy?
Ticketing machine (all station)
– JR station Ticketing machine sold JR IC CARD, for instances,
KITACA (JR Hokkaido), SUICA (JR East), ICOCA (JR West), TOICA (JR Central), SUGOCA (JR Kyushu).
– Other Railway companies ticketing machine sold different type of IC CARD, for instances,
PASMO (Tokyo Metro), PitaPa (Kansai Transport), Manaca (Nagoya city transportation), Hayakaken (Fukuoka city’s Subway), nimoca (Nishi-Nippon Railroad, Fukuoka Prefecture)
Which card should I get?
This depends on where you are going. However, I believe that most of you would be heading to Tokyo or Osaka first.
For Tokyo, it will be Suica or Pasmo and for Osaka will be Icoca or Pitapa.
For visitors like us, we don’t have many benefits like the locals do, where they can earn points or treat it like a credit card. However, we can use it to purchase things at the convenience store or some restaurants and even lockers.
How to return the IC card?
- Bring the IC card to the ticket office of the issuing operator.
- Refund of unused credit is available, however, a 220 JPY handling fee will be charged from the remaining balance.
- If you are holding onto a Pasmo card, no charges will be applied for the handling fee for refund of unused credit.
- IC cards are to be returned to the issuing company. For instance, You are not able to return a Suica card in Osaka or an Icoca card in Tokyo.
Local prefecture/ cities pass
All local prefecture have their own transportation pass, most of them will have this one day pass which you can take their local bus and train/ tram in the cities and this can save you quite a lot.
How to plan a train route?
Planning of the train route to get to your destination is important no matter which country you are in, however, Japan might be the most difficult to plan. Here are some of the website or apps, I always use when planning for my Japan trip. Hyperdia should be the easiest to use for English speaking users, Navitime app is good to use. If you are good in Japanese I will recommend using Jorudan, Japan the information shown is in detail, I like the way the schedule is shown.
Train Schedule and price
Jorudan (JP) **Recommended