Japan Train System: How to Navigate Like A Pro

Dubbed the world’s most efficient transportation system, the Japanese National Railways is accountable, strictly on time and exceptionally smooth, with unparalleled service to boot. All you have to do is sit back, crack open an ice-cold Asahi and take in the sweeping landscapes.
However, the train system is also infamous for its puzzling map. As a first-timer, you might find it hard to navigate from point A to point B without losing your head. But fret not, we’re laying down some tips for you to get around with ease.

Purchase your train tickets in advance
Save yourself the time and trouble of looking frantically at the types of tickets to purchase by ordering it online via Japan Rail Pass. This special pass is only available for tourists and Japanese citizens living abroad. Purchase a 7, 14 or 21-day pass online, and you’ll receive an exchange order in the mail that you must validate at the airport or at any designated JR station before taking the JR train lines.

Make a seat reservation
Now that you’ve purchased your JR Pass, it’s time to reserve a seat for yourself. Seat reservations are free with a JR Pass and can be made at any point, up until the time of departure. Simply head to the ticket office and tell the person-in-charge where and when you want to travel. You can change them as often as you need without extra charges.

Choose your seat carefully
Can’t tell the difference between a green car carriage and a regular one? You are not alone. Green car seats are the equivalent to business class seats on planes as they offer more legroom and facilities, are quieter, and of course, cost more than the regular seats. If you do wish to get a seat, remember to book a seat in advance.

Download the app
There are a number of apps out there to help you research and plot your train and subway times, but our personal favorite is HyperDia. This app lets you plan your day’s journey, complete with the exchange points, and can even help you find your platform – so you won’t ever have to worry about getting lost underground again. Many of Japan’s rail stations also accommodate a large number of privately run subway lines, so it can take some time to traipse your way through them.

Snack on the train
While eating on the go is considered impolite in Japan, you can count yourself excused when on a long-distance train journey. There will be train attendant passing through the aisle selling snacks, drinks and warm meals. So sit back, relax and indulge in that bowl of piping hot ramen with a can of soda.

Keep your bags safe at all times
While it’s true that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, you should take all the necessary precautions regardless. Take your Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 15L Backpack or Pacsafe Citysafe CX Convertible Crossbody with you.
Both offer spacious compartments to store all your travel items, keeping them safe with TurnNLock security hooks, and RFIDsafe™ blocking material, which helps keep your personal belongings and details under wraps.
 
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