Not getting lost when using Japanese public transport

By now, you know how to reserve and purchase a ticket for any type of transport in Japan. However, as you may have heard already, public transport in Japan can be confusing and difficult to understand especially if you are not local. Therefore, this section will equip you with some essential phrases to make sure that you DO NOT get lost!

What time does the train come?

( is a useful website to find out transport times)

Trains run regularly on major city lines and are extremely reliable.


The above shows what a timetable for an interstate trip may look like. However, if you are unable to find this information, you may want to ask the station officers when the next train is.

Q: つぎの東京行き何時ですか。

Possible Responses

A: 11時です。
A: 11時に(なりたくうこうを)出ます。
A: 11時にしゅっぱつします。


If you want to know when the train would arrive at the destination.

Q: この電車は大阪何時につきますか。

Possible Responses

A: 大阪に10時40分につきます。
A: 10時40分にとうちゃくします。


Which platform?

Now you know what time the train will leave, you need to get to the correct platform to get on the train. Unfortunately, you won’t find Platform 9 3/4 in Japan, unless if you go to Universal Studio Japan (USJ) in Osaka.


How do you ask which platform you need to get to?

Q: Place行きは何ばんせんですか。
A: 〜ばんせんです。

For example:

A: よこはま行きは何ばんせんですか。
B: 1ばんせんです。11時半にしゅっぱつします。


So you get to Platform 1 and see a train waiting to leave, but are unsure if this is the right one.

Q: この電車はよこはまへ・に・まで行きますか。

Possible Responses:

A: はい、行きます。
A: いいえ、行きません。つぎの電車にのってください。


Use the following timetable to practice.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 7.00.08 pm.png

  1. Decide where you are in Japan and what time it is.
    (ie. I’m in Nagoya and it’s 12 noon.)
  2. Decide where you are going.
  3. Ask a language partner (a native speaker or a learner), a station officer,
    a) how much it would cost,
    b) when’s the next train,
    c) what time it leaves the station,
    d) what time it’ll arrive at the destination,
    e) which platform the train leaves.


Fun Fact!

Not only is it difficult to travel on public transport, it is extremely difficult to find the the most convenient exit to get to your destination even if you have arrived at the right station.

One thought on “Not getting lost when using Japanese public transport

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