Sunday, October 23, 2016

Travel: How to Ride a Train in Japan

You can watch Risa teaching how to ride a train in Japan here. In this article, we have listed the phrases that you need to learn in written forms. So, you can practice them repeatedly or you can copy the phrases from here and paste them to japandict.com or a Japanese language-learning tool for further study.

  • Please take the seat
    • どうぞ / Dōzo
  • Excuse me, need to get off!
    • すみません、おります。/ Sumimasen, orimasu
  • Woman-only train
    • 女性專用車 。/ josei sen'yōsha
Please do watch the video to learn the proper manners and etiquette when you ride a train in Japan.

Survival Tips at Train Stations

Before you ride a train in Japan, you also would like to watch the following two videos first.

In the first video, Lauren from Canada will introduce you how to:
  • Choose the correct exit when arriving at a station
  • Purchase an IC card (e.g., Pasmo, Suica, Icoca card) or a paper ticket

In the second video, Chris and Heidi are going from Gifu (岐阜) to Nagoya (名古屋) and they are going to introduce you how to:
  • Purchase a paper ticket
  • Read the train schedule displayed in 24-hour clock and departure track
    • It's OK to take any train line (except the one with reserved seat or red line in the video) as long as you get on and off at the correct stations.

Personal Experience

During my 12-day solo visit of Kansai region in Japan, here are the hard lessons that I have learnt:
  1. Never be the first person rushing in the train without anyone else following you
    • One time I have made this mistake and I was the first in the train and alone. The reason is that this train has just reached its final destination and ready to return to its origin station. But, before customers are allowed to get on the train, all the seats need to be flipped from one side to another, which is done automatically. If someone remains in the seat, probably he/she will get hurt. That's why I have seen the conductor running towards me and tried to explain that to me in Japanese.
  2. Never stay in the train when everyone else has left the car
    • Because most likely it is the final destination of the train. 
      • If it's the final destination, you can find out that the announcement is longer and always ended with "ありがとう、ございました" .
  3. Never try to pass through turnstile (ticket gate) when the door closes in front of you
    • This happens when your IC card doesn't have enough funds on it. To resolve this issue, you need to find a fare adjustment machine behind you by adding more money to the card.
    • When your IC card has sufficient or insufficient fund on it, the gate will sound different when you touch the card on top of the sensor. So, listen to the sound carefully. Finally, the display LCD on the other end of the gate will show your remaining amount.
    • You don't need to take IC card out of your wallet. Just move your wallet over the sensor and it should work like a charm.


  1. How to ride a train in Japan (video)
  2. Introducing Japanese Train Stations & Tickets (video)
  3. How to Use the JR Train System for basic travel (video)
  5. Top 20 Travel Phrases You Should Know in Japanese - Vocabulary with Risa (video)
  6. 111 Japanese Phrases for Beginners. (video)
  7. 111 Japanese Phrases for Beginners 2 (video)
  8. How to Get a Suica Card (video)
  9. How to Use Your Pasmo/Suica (video)
  10. Shinkansen (good)
  11. 7 Tokyo Rail Hacks (good)
  12. Essential Japanese Kanji Volume 1: (JLPT Level N5) Learn the ..., Volume 1
  13. A Solo Trip Can Be A Disaster If You Forget These 7 Rules

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