How to take a train in Japan


One of the most important things while traveling in Japan is knowing how to ride the endless train lines that surround Japan. Although many stations have instructions in English, you may need to ask a Japanese native for information. Thinking about this need, we wrote this article that will help you catch trains in Japan and communicate with people and ask for information at the station.

If you are a tourist, to avoid problems with purchasing train tickets we recommend purchasing JRPass, a card that allows you to ride on most train lines across Japan.

Taking the train

In Japan you pay per season, tickets are sold in automatic machines, do not abandon your ticket as it is also used to leave the station. You must pay close attention to the wagons, some trains have wagons exclusively for women and smokers. Remember that train stations do not operate 24 hours a day.

To better understand how trains in Japan work, let's leave some videos below:




There are thousands of articles and videos on the internet explaining how to take trains in Japan. We don't want to cover the same things as these sites, let's go deeper and study ways to communicate at a train station.

Below are some phrases that you will likely need to speak or hear during your train ride back to Japan. Study them a lot and be prepared because you will not hear the exact phrases below.

[yamanote sen] wa doko desu ka?
Where's the [yamanote line]?

[Akihabara eki] ni ikitai desu ga.
I want to go to [Akihabara Station].

[yamanote sen] no hoomu wa doko desu ka?
Where is the platform for [yamanote line]

kono densha wa [toukyou eki] yuki desuka?
Is this the train going to Tokyo station?

juuichiji no densha ni norimasu.
I'm taking the 11 o'clock train

Densha shibuya the norikaenakereba naranai.
You have to change trains in Shibuya.

Anata wa sono ressi ni maniawanaideshou.
You will not be able to take the train.

Densha nori chigaete imasu yo
You are on the wrong train.

Densha ga okurete iru.
The train is late.

Densha the noriga machigaeta.
I took the wrong train.

Sleep resha wa sudeni shuppatsu shite shimatta.
The train has already left.

列車は午後 2時半に出る。
Ressha wa gogo 2-jihan ni deru.
The train leaves at 2:30 pm.

Kisha wa mada tsukimasen.
The train has not yet arrived.


What is the difference between the words densha (電車), kisha (汽車) and ressha (列車)? The word densha is used for electric trains, while kisha for steam trains, while the word resha can be used for both and refers to the trains that form the train. There is also a bullet train called a shinkansen (新幹線).

If you are traveling for the first time by train in Japan, keep an eye out for these words from the list below.

Portuguese Japanese Romaji
Agenda / Calendar 時刻表 jikoku hyou
2nd class 二等車 nitou sha
Window seat 窓側の席 mado gawa no seki
Aisle seat 通路側の席 tsuro gawa no seki
Book seat 自由席 jiyuu seki
Priority seat 優先席 yuusen seki
Reserved seat 指定席 shitei seki
Subscription ticket 定期券 teiki ken
Passenger ticket 乗車券 jousha ken
Ticket 切符 kippu
Box office 窓口 mado guchi
Cancel 取り消し tori keshi
Non-smoking car 禁煙車 kinen sha
Green / First Class Car グリーン車 guri-n sha
Station Manager / Manager 駅長 ekichou
Train conductor 車掌 shashou
Destiny 行き先 iki saki
Direction 方面 houmen
Employee / gas station attendant 駅員 ekiin
Station entrance 改札口 kaisatsu guchi
Station eki
Express that stops at the main stations 急行 kyuukou
Track 3 3 番線 san ban sen
Time to go 発車時刻 hassha jikoku
Line 線路 senro
Main line 本線 honsen
Faster than espresso 特急 tokkyuu
Ticket vending machine 自動券売機 jidou kenbai ki
Seat number 座席番号 zaseki bangou
First train 始発 shi hatsu
Necessary time 所要時間 shoyou jikan
Ticket 回数券 kaisuu ken
Train with more than 2 wagons 列車 reshape
Train Transfer / Exchange 乗り換え norikae
Bullet train 新幹線 shin kan sen
Express train 準急 junkyuu
Train stopping at all stations 普通 futsuu
Train stopping at all stations 各駅停車 kakueki teisha
Train 電車 densha
Change / Change money お釣り otsuri
Last stop / Terminal 終点 shuu ten
Smoking car 喫煙車 kitsuen sha
Vehicle / Locomotives 車両 sharyou
Round trip 往復 or fuku
One-way trip 片道 kata michi
Last train 最終電車 saishuu densha
Last train 終発 shuu hatsu
Last train 終電 shuu den

We already wrote another article talking about trains in Japan, you can read this article clicking here.

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