When livedoor NEWS this morning published an article based on the theme of unknown shocking truths about JR train tickets (their words, not ours - although we did translate them from Japanese) our ears pricked as we imagined going viral by bringing you some distressing news about what goes on behind those ticket stubs you’re buying.
Sadly, the biggest shock here is just how shockingly, not shocking this news is. But it could still be useful, particularly with Golden Week fast approaching and thoughts of doing some travel starting to formulate.
The piece in livedoor NEWS concerns itself with JR’s long-distance journeys (think for example Tokyo to Osaka), and things that you can do with the corresponding tickets that, apparently, a lot of people don’t know (and are consequently missing out on). So, here are the shockers as they appear in the article ...
1: 何度でも自由に下車 / Free to alight from trains as many times as you please.
From the article: If you’re traveling from Tokyo to Osaka and you’re ticket is valid for 4 days, you’re free to get off at stations along the way, as many times as you want. Of course, you can pass through the ticket gates and then get back on to trains going in your direction using the same ticket.
2: ホテルに泊まって進行する / Stay over at hotels then continue your journey
From the article: With a JR ticket, it’s possible to board a train in Tokyo, stay over at a hotel in Shizuoka, then Nagoya, then Kyoto, before arriving at your destination in Osaka (on the same ticket).
“ So it’s better to buy a ticket for your final destination, is it not?”
“You should buy a new ticket each time you want to ride a train.”
This kind of debate arises when discussing the logistics of long-distance train travel. Buying one ticket to the final destination will end up being cheaper.
3: 普通列車に乗るしかない / You can only use ‘normal’ trains
You need to pay attention here (says the article).
If riding Shinkansen or special express trains, reserved-seat fares and ‘express’ tickets will be needed. The part that’s valid for 4 days, is the 乗車券だけ / jousha ken only (which may or may not allow you to board certain trains, and where it does, will not get you a seat). No, if you want to take a cheap(ish) trip, getting off at stations along the way to your final destination, you can only use ‘normal’ / 普通 / futsu trains.
4: 東京～博多の乗車券は6日間有効 / Tickets Tokyo - Hakata are valid for 6 days
Until this point, the article has used Tokyo - Osaka, as its example. However, with some exceptions it’s possible to get on/off at stations for any number of journeys.
Furthermore, the period of validity corresponds to distance. The Tokyo - Osaka run is valid for 4 days. Tokyo - Hakata (Kyushu) has a validity of 6 days. So, within this period, you’re free to get off at places such as Okayama, and Hiroshima, which are on route to Hakata.
5: むしろ楽しい旅 / A rather fun trip
On this kind of ticket, a trip from Tokyo to Osaka needs 9 hrs 30 mins. For example, if you set out from Tokyo at 13:57, you’ll arrive in Osaka at 23:17.
The writer suggests that breaking the above journey into train rides of around three hours followed by an overnight stay, will make for a more pleasant experience.
6: ゆっくり移動する旅も良し / It’s good to take things slowly
The article concludes with words to the effect that in today’s busy lifestyle it can be good, on occasion, to take the time to travel slowly. A salient point indeed. However, I’m sure many of us are acutely aware that finding 6 days to travel down to, say, Hakata, can be somewhat tricky.
To be clear, what we’re talking about here are normal tickets for JR trains. Not special passes. A ticket that you might by, say, for the JR Yamanote line from Tokyo to .. Shinjuku, will be valid for the day of purchase only. Once you hit distances over 100 km, then you start getting into multi-day validity. See the link here for more information, or have a gander at the simple table below to give you an idea of how validity corresponds to distance.
|101 - 200 km||2 days|
|201 - 400 km||3 days|
|401 - 600 km||4 days|
|601 - 800 km||5 days|
|801 - 1000 km||6 days|
NB* The (rough) translation of the livedoor article was done by us, and can in no way be considered official.
Were you shocked by any of these truths about JR tickets? Will you be using them for your journeys this Golden Week? Share your train travel tips below!