IC cards are prepaid e-money cards that are one of the most convenient options to pay for your transportation around Japan without the need to purchase a physical ticket. Nowadays, these cards are even more widely used to make purchases at certain shops, convenience stores and even restaurants. For foreign travellers, you can buy a special visitor's IC card - without a deposit - that can be used for up to 28 days. After use, you can even keep it as a momento.
Various passes of train lines or areas which give you access to unlimited rides enable you to efficiently travel around the areas of your choice for a certain number of days. Some of these may even come with free entry to attractions, souvenirs and discounts on local speciality foods around the area! Here are some great passes to consider:
When you are on the train in Japan, there are several things you should keep in mind. Remember to keep your phone on silent and refrain from using phones especially near the priority seats, wait until people get off the train before boarding, and hold back from eating and drinking (with the exception of when you're on a limited express or Shinkansen).
If you're planning a trip to Japan but worried about getting lost or missing out on something important because you don't speak Japanese, no need to fret. The Japan Official Travel App is here to help you! This free app by the Japan National Tourism Organization provides up-to-date information on Japan travel - including handy search functions for ATMs, luggage storage areas, free Wi-Fi services and more.
Limited express tickets are needed in addition to basic fare tickets when travelling on a Shinkansen or a Limited Express train. With the limited express tickets, you would be able to reserve your seats. Do note that even if you do not need a reserved seat, it is still required of you having a limited express non-reserved seat ticket. You can purchase these tickets at the ticket vending machine.
When bringing a bicycle onto the train, you usually have to carry it around in a bike bag after folding it down or removing the wheel. By doing so, it would become easier to move around with and less likely to cause any inconveniences to other passengers.
Rejoice for cycling enthusiasts as there are a couple of lines known as cycle trains that allow you to bring your bicycle on board without any hassle.
If you want to travel with greater comfort and in luxury, you can certainly consider seats in the first-class train cars. The most prevalent type of first-class seating is Green Car seats, which are often wider than regular seats, have more amenities, and have plusher cushions. For an even more lush experience, try Gran Class, the highest-class seats of railway cars. Gran Class features opulent furnishings, dining services, and attendants who will assist you to give you an extraordinary ride experience.
Some Japanese trains have uniquely designed exteriors and interiors. Wakayama Electric Railway's Tama-den, for instance, is modelled after a famous feline stationmaster named Tama. Especially if you're a fan of trains, head over to the following URL to discover your favourites.
If hunger pangs kick in before your train ride, you can get a quick meal at any of the restaurants or cafes in the stations, or buy an eki-ben (a special train station lunchbox) to eat on the train. Some of these lunchboxes are only sold at selected stations, so it's definitely a great way to explore local foods with your tastebuds. Rushing for your ride, so no time to get? No worries, you can still get your hands on some eki-ben on board, though choices may be limited.
Souvenirs are another reason to look forward to when travelling. Some limited-edition goods can be purchased only by passengers of sightseeing trains or certain regional lines. These original souvenirs, which include pens, towels, and clear folders, will be a perfect way to remember your trip.