Topic 5 Unit 1: Listening Comprehension


1. Listen to the conversation and answer the following questions.

a) Where is Miss Nakagawa planning to go this summer holidays?
b) How long is she going for?
c) What special places is she intending to go to and how long does she propose to stay at each place? List four places.
d) Where does her friend live?
e) How did she meet her friend?

2. Continue listening to the conversation and answer the following questions.

a) Why does Mr Tanaka want to go to Hokkaido?
b) Who is he going with?
c) How will he travel there?
d) Who told Mr Tanaka about Hokkaido?
e) What did this person tell Mr Tanaka?
f) How long is Mr Tanaka going for?

3. Listen to the conversation between the teacher and her students.
a) Have Anne and Nori been to England and Africa? Fill in the table below.

b) What did Anne see in America?
c) Who will Nori see in Washington?

4. Listen to the conversation between a passenger and a station employee. Then fill in the blanks.

a) The passenger wishes to go to                           on                          at           o’clock. She wants         return tickets. It will cost                      yen.

b) The passenger wishes to go to                           at               o’clock on the                . She is buying             ticket and it costs her                      yen.

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.

Making Reservations

In order to express your desire to make a  reservation for basically anything, you should use 〜をよやくしたいんですが…

Remember, we’ve learnt that 〜が… is often used to omit the latter part of speech as the implication is clear, yet you may not wish to make direct statements.

For example:


The above sentence suggests that you’d like to reserve a return ticket to Kyoto and what is omitted is that you are expecting or requesting them to help you purchase the ticket without being too direct.


In this sentence, although not always common, it could also be suggested that the speaker is wanting to know the price for a first class seat.


Use the phrase to start the conversation at the きっぷうりば (ticket office) and continue with the expressions you have learnt in the section on buying a ticket.

Let’s watch the following videos to hear the dialogue you may have when reserving flight tickets or seats.

Topic 5 Unit 1 Expand!

Map of Japan (Major Cities)


What to do in…

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Shinkansen (Bullet Trains)

Shinkansen means ‘new main line’. The building of the Shinkansen began in 1959 and was completed between Tokyo and Osaka in 1965. It had a top speed of 200km/h and ran from Tokyo to Osaka in 3 hours. It was the fasted train in the world when built. Afterwards, the network expanded to over 2,400km of lines with maximum speeds of 270 to 300km/h for daily operation. By 2012, the network linked most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, with constructions of a link to the northern islands of Hokkaido underway and plan to increase speed on the Tohoku Shinkansen up to 320km/h. Experimental test runs have reached 443km/h for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record, 581km/h for maglev (magnetic levitation)trains in 2003.

The Shinkansen is not only fast, it is also very safe and comfortable. The trains run on time and are very frequent at busy periods. Most of the trains are usually quite full. First called the ‘Green Carriage’ 「グリーン車」 because it is decorated with green clover designs on the outside. The second class has reserved seats 「していせき」and non-reserved seats 「じゆうせき」.

If by any unforeseen circumstances there is an extreme delay, you may get your money back.


Ekiben (駅弁, railway boxed meals) are a specific type of bento boxed meals, sold on trains and train stations in Japan. Today, many types of ekiben can still be purchased at stands in the station, on the platform, or on the train itself. They come with disposable chopsticks (when necessary) or spoons. Ekiben containers can be made from plastic, wood, or ceramic. Many train stations have since become famous for their especially tasty ekiben, made from local food specialities. The “Golden Age” of ekiben, however, ended in the 1980s. At that time, air travel was quite expensive and trains were slower. Many tourists needed them during their train journeys.

Click here to find out more.

Japanese classical entertainment


Kabuki theatre developed in the Tokugawa period (1603-1867) and reached its peak in about 1700. Kabuki plays consists of two categories: historical dramas, which deal with the fortunes of the warrior classes; and plays depicting the daily lives of common people.

Kabuki costumes are said to be the most lavish and extravagant in the world. The actors are dressed in elaborate period costumes and wear equally elaborate make-up. Some faces are painted with various colours to show power and strength. All the actors are male. When the men act the part of women, their faces are painted white.

Another feature is that the change of costume takes places on the stage, helped by assistants dressed in black.

The art of Kabuki is passed from father to son, and training begins at a very early age. Only men born within the tradition are able to become Kabuki actors.


Noh is highly stylised lyric drama performed to the accompaniment of music and song. Noh is Japan’s oldest theatrical form. The main characters are supposed to be spirits, ghosts or superhuman beings, and for this reason, the actors wear masks to represent these characters.

Noh costumes are very elaborate but elegant. The female characters are played by men as in Kabuki. The masks may represent male, female or demon.


Bunraku is traditional Japanese puppet theatre. The puppet consits of head, trunk, hands, feet and elaborate costumes. They are about one to one and a half metres tall.

The puppeteers stand on a lowered part of the stage behind the puppets. The audience is not supposed to see the puppeteers, although they are clearly visible.

Bunraku themes are similar to that of Kabukim, but perhaps a wider range of themes is included: love, jealousy, loyalty and treason.

Unlike puppet shows in the west, Bunraku is not intended for children. The dialogues is chanted and the plot requires a mature understanding.

Geisha & Maiko

Topic 5 Unit 1: Destination and Transport

Map-of-Japan (1)

At the end of this unit, you will:

  • enhance your understanding of the Japanese transport system,
    • including appropriate mannerism when travelling on a train,
  • enhance your understanding of Japanese culture and various forms of entertainment,
  • enhance your understanding of Japanese geography,
  • be able to talk about your past experiences,
  • be able to talk about the means of transport,
  • be able to confidently use the public transport in Japan.
    • Buying a ticket
    • Finding out when the train leaves or arrives
    • Make reservations for transport


  1. Expand!
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. The means of transport: ~で
  5. Buying tickets: Counter まい and ~をください。
  6. Making reservations
  7. The train to Hogwarts leaves from Platform 9 3/4.
  8. Listening Comprehension
  9. Reading Comprehension
  10. Writing