Travelling on public transport in Japan

Watch the following videos to experience what it’s like to get on trains in Japan:

Manners on Japanese Trains

Watch the following video to enhance your understanding of appropriate behaviour on Japanese transport.

More Tips:

  • Do not speak loudly on trains – this can disrupt others’ peace and harmony, which is not welcomed in Japanese culture.
  • Refrain from talking on the phone. Texting is acceptable.
    Nonetheless, it is strictly forbidden to use your phone near designated priority seats, as people with heart pacemaker could be sitting in the area, and wireless devices would put those people at risk.
  • Finally, avoid eating on trains – unless, if you are travelling on shinkansen.

Buying tickets

When you ask for tickets the きっぷうりば (ticket office), use the following expression.

Placeまで + (Number of tickets)まい ください。/ おねがいします。

まい, as we have already learnt, is the counter for any thin objects, such as paper and t-shirts. Revise counters here.

For example:

  • 大阪まで、2まいください。Please, give me two tickets to Osaka.

If you want to specify a single or a return ticket, say:

Placeまで + Return/Single + (Number of tickets)まい ください。/ おねがいします。

  • 京都まで、おうふく2まいください。Please, give me two return tickets to Kyoto.
  • さっぽろまで、かたみち1まいおねがいします。Please, give me a one-way ticket to Sapporo.

Lastly, if you want to specify adult, child or student, you may add 大人(おとな), 子ども or がくさい.

  • 広島まで、おうふくおとな2まいください。
  • 京都まで、かたみち学生1まいおねがいします。


How much does it cost?

JR Tokyo Map with price

As you may notice from the picture above, train maps at stations don’t often have English to help you buy tickets. So here are some tips to find out how much it would cost from Place A to B.

  1. Visit the Tourist Information Centre as soon as you land at the airport. Request for an English version of the train map (it may be a good idea to ask them for both JR line and metro/subway lines)
  2. Find the station you’d like to go to on your English map and search for the corresponding on the map in the station.
  3. The red arrow indicates where you are currently. Every other station will have a number below its name to indicate how much you need to pay.
  4. Follow the instructions on the machine to purchase your ticket.
  5. If you’re still confused, ask someone around you or go to the きっぷうりば to speak to a station staff.


Watch how to use the じどうはんばいき



Let’s imagine you are at the きっぷうりば at Narita Airport Train Station. How would you ask for:

  • how much a ticket is to Akihabara
  • 2 one-way ticket to Tokyo
  • 1 return ticket to Kyoto
  • 1 reserved ticket to Hiroshima
  • 3 unreserved express ticket to Osaka

2 thoughts on “Travelling on public transport in Japan

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