Need to know before buying JR (Japan Railways) train tickets, selecting ticket and seat types, combinations, age category and international student discount.
Where to buy?
JR tickets are sold at the following locations.
● Major JR Stations: Ticket windows (みどりの窓口), Reserved ticket vending machines (指定席券売機), JR Information Desk (for foreigners) etc.
● JR Travel agencies
● Japan’s major travel agencies: e.g. JTB (Japan Travel Bureau), Nippon Travel Agency (NTA), KNT–CT Holdings (Kintetsu Group), University Coop Tourism & business etc.
Ticket and Seat Types
There are mainly the following types of tickets for JR lines.
(joshaken – 乗車券): A ticket for boarding a train, the price of which is called a fare (unchin – 運賃).
Basically, it is sold on the day of use, but you can purchase it in advance if the ticket window at the station is closed early in the morning or late at night. If you purchase an ordinary ticket and a reserved seat ticket at the same time, the ordinary ticket can be purchased one month in advance.
● One-way ordinary ticket (katamichi joshaken – 片道乗車券): A one-way ticket of 101 km or more allows unlimited stopovers (exit the ticket gate).
● Round-trip ordinary ticket (o-fuku joshaken – 往復乗車券): A ticket for the same route both going and returning. : If the one-way ticket is over 601km, the fares will be discounted by 10% each.
● Continuous ordinary ticket (renzoku joshaken – 連続乗車券): A ticket for non-one-way trips.
(shitei-ken – 指定券): To use a reserved seat (shitei-seki – 指定席), a reserved ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket.
● There are reserved seat limited express tickets (including the shinkansen), sleeper tickets, reserved seat green tickets, and reserved seat tickets (local, rapid and express trains).
● Reserved seat tickets go on sale at JR major stations and at travel agencies from 10:00 am (10:10 am for reserved seat ticket vending machines) one month prior to the departure date of your train.
Limited Express Ticket
(tokkyu-ken – 特急券): To use a shinkansen (bullet train) and a limited express train, a limited express ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket.
● Shinkansen limited express ticket (shinkansen tokkyu-ken – 新幹線特急券): It is necessary for take the JR Shinkansen.
→ There are 3 ticket types: reserved seat, non-reserved seat and special limited express ticket. The special limited express ticket (tokutei tikkyu-ken – 特定特急券) can be used for vacant seats in ordinary car reserved seats.
● Conventional line limited express ticket (zairaisen tokkyu-ken – 在来線特急券): It is necessary for take the limited express train on the JR conventional line. Simply called the tokkyu-ken.
→ There are 3 ticket types: reserved seat, non-reserved seat and unreserved seat ticket (JR East).
→ In some sections on the JR lines, there are exceptions that allow you to board a non-reserved seat (or reserved seat) on an ordinary car of a limited express train with an ordinary ticket. → Learn more
(kyuko-ken – 急行券): To use an express train, an express ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket.
● An express ticket can be used for non-reserved seats in ordinary cars of express trains. A reserved seat ticket, green ticket or sleeper ticket for an express train is charged separately.
Green Car Ticket
(green-ken – グリーン券): Green Car seats (including Shinkansen Gran Class) are higher grade seats than ordinary seats. To use a Green Car seat, a green car seat ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket. Same price for adults and children
Green tickets for the shinkansen, limited express and express trains must be purchased together with limited express (or express) tickets.
● Reserved Green Car Ticket (green-sha sitei-seki-ken – グリーン車指定席券): including Grand Class.
● Non-reserved Green Car Ticket (green-sha jiyu-seki-ken – グリーン車自由席券)
(shindai-ken – 寝台券): To use a sleeper car, a sleeper car ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket. Same price for adults and children.
Sleeper car tickets for the shinkansen, limited express and express trains must be purchased together with limited express (or express) tickets.
(josha seiri-ken – 乗車整理券): To use a Home Liner (ホームライナー) operated by the JR Hokkaido and the JR Central, a liner ticket is required in addition to an ordinary ticket. Same price for adults and children.
Discounted Train Ticket and Rail Passes
In addition to the above tickets, there are many other discount tickets such as the Seishun 18 Kippu (seasonal), which allows unlimited rides on JR local and rapid trains for one day, as well as area-limited discount tickets and rail passes.
Adult and Children
Ordinary ticket and fares are divided into adults and children.
● Adult (大人): 12 years old or older (except elementary school student).
● Child (こども): 6 years old or older (except before entering elementary school) – under 12 years old. Half-price for children.
● Infant (幼児): 1 years old or older – under 6 years old. Up to 2 infants/babies accompanying an adult or child are free of charge.
● Baby (乳児): Under 1 years old or older.
Student discount ticket
(Gakusei waribiki josha-ken – 学生割引乗車券) Students of Japan’s educational institutions designated by JR can receive a 20% discount on one-way fares of over 101km by presenting the “Student Passenger Fare Discount Certificate” issued by the school at the window.
● A round-trip discount ticket can be used in combination (calculated with an additional 2 discount on the round-trip discount fare = 28% discount in total).