Trains: Vocab and Tips

Useful Train Vocabulary

General Vocab

  • Ticket Gate – 改札口 (kai-satsu-guchi)
  • One way – 片道 (kata-michi)
  • Round Trip – 往復 (ou-fuku)
  • First Class Car – グリーン車 (green-sha)
  • Non-smoking Car – 禁煙車 (kin-en-sha)Smoking Car – 喫煙車 (kitsu-en-sha) Non-reserved Seat – 自由席 (ji-yuu-seki) Reserved Seat – 指定席 (shi-tei-seki) Window (Seat) – 窓側 (mado-gawa) Aisle (Seat) – 通路側 (tsuu-ro-gawa) Seat Number – 座席番号 (za-seki-ban-gou)


  • Local – 普通 (fu-tsuu)
  • Rapid Service – 快速 (kai-soku)
  • Special Rapid Service – 新快速 (shin-kai-soku)
  • Express – 特急 (tokkyuu)
  • Shinkansen (Bullet Train) – 新幹線 (shin-kan-sen)
  • Long-distance Train – 長距離列車 (chou-kyo-ri-ressha)
  • Green Ticket Window (For Reserved Seats, Shinkansen, etc.) – 緑の窓口 (midori-no-madoguchi)


  • Local – 普通 (fu-tsuu)
  • Express – 急行 (kyuu-kou)
  • Rapid Express – 快速急行 (kai-soku-kyuu-kou)
  • Special Express – 特急 (tokkyuu)
  • Direct Express – 直通特急 (chokutsuu tokkyuu)

Trains and Traveling Tips:

  • The Himeji-Osaka Corridor: All four types of JR trains operate on this line: Local (futsuu), Rapid Service (kaisoku), Special Rapid Service (shinkaisoku) and Limited Express (Tokkyuu). The Shinkaisoku are the best trains to catch if you want to travel from Himeji to Kobe/Osaka directly, since it only makes a few stops on the way and costs the same as the Futsuu and the Kaisoku. The Tokkyuu is the only train that requires an extra charge (a second ticket). Before you get on the Kaisoku, Shinkaisoku or Tokkyuu, make sure that it stops at your station! If it doesn’t, you have to ride all the way to the next station, switch to a local train and come back. Also, be careful not to take the long distance express train (Choo-kyori-ressha). They are big, and are usually beige, red, white, or pink & blue trains that are super expensive.
  • Traveling Between North & South Hyogo: If you are traveling between north and south you can take the long distance express trains. While these trains are comfortable, they can cost almost twice the regular fare. Nevertheless, for long trips (for example, from Amagasaki in southern Hyogo to Hamasaka in far northern Hyogo) they can save you up to 5 hours of commuting time.
  • Getting on the Right Train: Japanese trains are very punctual. It is a rarity for trains to be late, so make sure you’re early to the platform! That said, the recent train crash in Amagasaki has forced JR to crack down on speeding. This means that you can expect more delays than usual. On every platform there is a large timetable listing train times for weekdays and holidays (the sign only says “Saturdays & Holidays”, but it includes Sundays as well). Local train times are usually designated by black numbers, while express trains are in red, yellow, blue, etc. If you catch the wrong train, wait to get off at a large station, so you can quickly catch a train going back the other way.
  • Discount Train Ticket Shops: Even though it can often be cheaper to go abroad during your holidays, if you want to see Japan you can save on traveling expenses by going to discount ticket agents. These are perfectly legitimate shops that buy group tickets and sell them at bargain prices. These shops sell unreserved, open ended tickets. If you are traveling on JR, take the ticket you bough at the discount shop to the Midori-no-Madoguchi and ask them to make it a reserved ticket. This can be done free of charge. You usually save 10-20% off of the normal ticket price, so this is an especially good way to buy tickets for the Shinkansen. You can also get domestic airline tickets, but it is trickier because you can only do so one month in advance of departure. These shops are usually clustered in the the around major stations. Most shops also sell discount movie, concert, exhibition, and amusement park tickets, too.

Discount Train Tickets

Commuter Passes (Teikis – 定期)

If you’re going to be taking the same route often you might want to invest in a Teiki. When you buy a teiki, you choose two stops and the time period you want (you can buy teikis in increments of 1-month, 3-months, and 6-months). During that time period, you will be able to get on and off anywhere between your two stations. The system is set up for commuters, and unless you are taking the same trip every day, it won’t save you too much money. For example, for a trip that costs ¥280 on the hanshin line, a one month teiki costs ¥11,500. You would then have to make that trip at least 42 times in the month to make it worth the investment (21 round-trips).

JR Regional Passes

JR offers special regional passes including 5 day, 10 day and flexible 4 day passes. The passes are available for the JR West coverage area (JR West has two passes, one for the Kansai area and one for the Sanyo area), JR Kyushu, and JR East.If you will be traveling a lot within one of these areas during a part of the year that you cannot buy a Seishun-18 ticket, these passes can save you a lot of money off of normal train fairs. |

Seishun-18 Train Tickets (青春18 切符)

  • For a limited period in the winter, spring and summer holiday periods; JR makes available special discount tickets called Seishun Juu-hachi-Kippu.
  • The Seishun Juu-hachi-Kippu costs ¥11,500.
  • The ticket allows 5 trips of unlimited travel to anywhere in Japan!
  • The five trips are flexible – each trip entitles you or someone else, one day’s worth of free, unlimited travel. In other words, one person can travel on five separate days, or five people can travel together for one day, or even two people can share two days unlimited travel and one of them can use the last trip three weeks later. Good deal, eh!
  • The days don’t need to be consecutive, but must be used within a set time frame.
  • The tickets can be purchased during these dates:
    February 20 – March 31
    July 1 – August 31
    December 1 – January 10
  • The tickets can be used during these dates:
    March 1 – April 10
    July 7 – September 10
    December 12 – January 20
  • Although the deal excludes Shinkansen(新幹線)and limited express(特急)trains, it’s a great bargain and does include rapid Kaisoku(快速)and Special Rapid Shinkaisoku(新快速)services.
  • To purchase the ticket, go to the Midori-no-madoguchi ticket office in major JR stations. Or for more info, Click Here

Post Author: webmaster