5 Things You Need To Know When Riding Japanese Trains

September 21, 2023
5 Things You Need To Know When Riding Japanese Trains

Japan is known for having a modern and extensive high-speed transportation system. It is amazing how convenient it makes traveling throughout Japan. In this article, we will show you the 5 most useful things you need to know when riding trains in Japan.

Like many other countries, Japan has many unwritten rules that are embedded in the society. Many of these unwritten rules are applied when using trains. Learning these rules will be very beneficial for you if you intend to travel by train to Japan.

1. Avoid rush hours

Japanese train during peak hours
Japanese train during peak hours (source: offer.able.co.jp)

In Japan, traveling by train during rush hour can be very stressful. Japan's rush hour occurs between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM when the majority of people are on their way to work or school. However, rush hour peaks at around 8:00 in the morning. This happens every day except for weekends and holidays. 

However, rush hours in Japan do not only happen in the morning. There is another period of rush hour in Japan that happens after work hours. The peak hour for afternoon rush hour at Japanese train stations is 5:00 PM when the majority of people get off from work. However, because fewer people are in a rush in the afternoon, commuting is a little less stressful. Be mindful that Tokyo has the worst rush hours. In addition, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and other large cities may also experience heavy rush hours.

2. Don’t be noisy

Woman speaking in Japanese train
Woman speaking in Japanese train (source: woman.mynavi.jp)

Trains in Japan are quiet so avoid making loud noises. Remember to speak quietly and limit your chatter while riding the train. Avoid using a loud voice or turning up the volume of your music. People nearby will be disturbed if you do this. Keep in mind that you are sharing a public space with other people, so it's appropriate to be mindful of your surroundings. Additionally, silence your phone and don’t speak on the phone. There is no rule for this, but if you talk on the phone, other people will feel very uncomfortable. 

3. You can take a nap

Japanese person sleeping in the train
Japanese person sleeping in the train (source: woman.mynavi.jp)

You have probably already witnessed Japanese people napping in trains. That is referred to as "inemuri" in Japanese. It refers to any nap taken by a Japanese person in public, particularly on trains, which they do frequently. For Japanese people, traveling by train can be very relaxing as it gives them time to think about non-work-related matters. It often makes you sleepy. So, if you're feeling tired or sleepy, just try taking a nap! Nobody will take your belongings, and it is safe.

4. You must be on time

Japanese train departure board
Japanese train departure board (source: woman.mynavi.jp)

Punctuality is a trademark of the Japanese rail system. Over 99% of the time, Japanese trains are on time. It is very rare to see them come late by more than 1 minute. The three main metropolitan centers in Japan, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, have among the world's busiest rush-hour rail systems, but they are also among the most efficient. So, if you’re planning to commute via trains in Japan, make sure to check the schedule and be on time.

5. Don’t overpay

Japan Rail Pass guide
Japan Rail Pass guide (source: woman.mynavi.jp)

In Japan, riding the train can be expensive. Therefore, you must be aware of the many tickets and passes that are available to meet your various demands if you want to save money. The Japan Rail Pass is one of the passes that are available to tourists. It is the most popular train pass in Japan. It enables visitors to save money on frequent or long-distance rail trips while they are in Japan. Passengers can travel as much as they like on JR trains across almost the entire country with this rail pass. It's designed to be a cost-effective choice for train travel throughout Japan. Nearly all shinkansen services, limited express trains, local trains, some JR buses, and even the Hiroshima-Miyajima ferry are covered by the JR pass. There are still other good train deals for tourists so make sure to get one of them before traveling.

Final Words

Clean Japanese train
Clean Japanese train (source: top.his-usa.com)

In comparison to other countries, Japan's railway etiquette could appear a little stricter. However, it's important to follow the customs and rules of the country you're visiting. So, make sure to keep in mind the 5 train tips stated above when you're traveling in Japan to have a comfortable and safe trip!

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Kanami Iwasaki, Japademy Founder

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