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All about the railways of Japan.

All about the railways of Japan.
I noticed a long time ago that the busiest points in major cities are the stations. The closer you come to a large station, the more clearly there is movement, some hidden energy. In Tokyo, this is very obvious. You come to Tokyo Station and feel the pulse of the Japanese capital. For me it was always some kind of impulse, the day went on according to the necessary plan in high spirits.
The Japanese themselves train stations and, accordingly, the railway is very active, and the railway transport in Japan accounts for the main passenger traffic. At the same time, both intercity routes and suburban and intercity trains are equally popular.
Unlike the city public transport system, the railway is arranged quite simply, and enjoying it is a pleasure.
Categories of Japanese trains.
The Japanese Railway offers several variants of trains.
The most famous, convenient and at the same time the fastest is the famous Shinkansen. I remember well the shocking impression Shinkansen made on me for the first time. Futuristic-looking, these trains are able to move at a speed of almost 300 km / h, remaining one of the safest modes of transportation. Shinkansen's routes cover almost the whole territory of the country, it was his appearance and further development that led to the fact that air carriers had a serious competitor. The specificity of the train does not imply stopping at intermediate stations, it is ideal for tourists who move between the main sights of the country, for example, from Tokyo to the ancient capital of Kyoto.
Sinkasaen is a common name for all types of super expresses, strictly speaking, it defines the category of transportation and means "new highway". Trains running on the Shinkansen lines have their own names, there are some differences between them. For example:
Expressways "Nozomi" and "Mizuho" - the fastest, they almost do not make stops. "Hikari" and "Sakura" stop more often, but on them, unlike the first, you can use the JR Pass, which means you save a lot on your trip.
The next category is express, followed by several types of electric trains. I often had to use them in a variety of ways, they are very convenient when not in a hurry. There is time to calmly think, drink coffee, look out the window. By internal arrangement and functionally, these trains, although they have different names in different regions, almost do not differ from each other. The difference between the categories of non-high-speed trains is mainly at what intervals they make stops and at what stations. Given that their routes cover the entire territory of Japan, such trains account for a large percentage of all passenger traffic.
At once I will say that all types of Japanese trains have very comfortable cars and are distinguished by a high level of service. The concept of the first class exists, but it is realized due to the greater distance between the seats, the more functional seats. In general, the choice of the type of train you will go to will mainly be affected by the distance and your schedule.
To a friend who lives in Osaka, I from Tokyo, of course, get Sinkasen. But when I need to go to Yokohama, most often I choose one of the suburban electric trains.
Purchase tickets for trains in Japan.
Finally, a very important question for travelers: "How much does it cost and how in a country using hieroglyphics, do not go the other way?" The standard fare price directly depends on two factors: distance and train categories.
Now getting from Tokyo to Osaka (530 km) on the super express costs about 135 dollars (14,000 yen), a ticket from Tokyo to Sapporo (830 km), located on the northern island of Hokkaido, will cost about $ 205 (21 thousand) yen).
I use several types of travel cards: they provide a real opportunity to save on transport. I will dwell on this topic in more detail. And on that, of course, how without problems to buy a ticket.
The JR Pass is one answer to many questions.
The most popular type of travel card is JR Pass. It can be used on all trains and buses of Japan Railways (with the exception of the super expresses "Nozomi" and "Mizuho"). And since the Association of Japan Railways serves more than 70% of all railways in Japan, including all the main ones, it is clear that it is the JR Pass - this is what the tourist who has planned to move over long distances needs.
JR Pass is limited by time, but not the number of trips, which during the validity of the travel card can be absolutely anything. There are two classes of these tickets - Green (1 class) and Ordinary (all other classes). Children's travel cards will be required for young passengers aged 6 to 11 years, from the age of 12, an adult is purchased.
When I am asked about JR Pass, I always remind you that the acquisition, the actual receipt and use of JR Pass has its own specificity.
JR Pass is bought in advance on the website of Japan Railway (this service will be provided to you free of charge by the travel company, and at the same time and answer all questions). In this case, upon receipt of the order, you receive only a voucher, which upon arrival in the country is exchanged for a ticket in one of the offices of JR. The latter does not present any difficulty: there are a lot of offices and there is nothing to say there.
It is important to remember that you determine the validity period when ordering a travel card, it is rigidly fixed, so try, when ordering a ticket, to provide for all the main details of your upcoming travel. The owner of the ticket is fixed: JR Pass - registered, remember this, do not forget the passport in the hotel.
JR Pass you can purchase for a period of 7, 14 or 21 days. The cost of tickets (in brackets Green JR Pass for 1 class) is: 7 days - 285 dollars / 29100 yen (382 dollars / 38880 yen); 14 days - 456 dollars / 46,390 yen (617 dollars / 62950 yen); 21 days - 584 dollars / 59,350 yen (806 dollars / 81870 yen).
JR Pass with proper planning and use is able to help save a significant amount, so we will sum up what was said:
Determine the start date and expiration date. You order the JR Pass yourself or through a travel agency. You get a voucher. On arrival, exchange a voucher for a ticket at the Japan Railways office. Do not forget your passport.
JR Pass gives the right of free travel on all JR trains (except for two super express trains), on all JR buses (including intercity ones, which are many), by ferry to Miyajima Island (if you decide to go there) and on N'EX express trains before or from Narita airport.
Travel Seishun 18.
In addition to JR Pass, the Seishun 18 ticket is a popular pass. I used it once when I traveled during the sakura season between Kyoto, Osaka and Nara - it was very convenient. Unlike JR Pass, it is not nominal, but has a big drawback - it only works on vacation days three times a year: from March 1 to April 10, from July 20 to September 10 and from December 10 to January 10. At first glance, the restrictions are serious, however, if we look closely at the dates, we will see that they fall on very interesting seasons (the end of March) and Christmas. So remember this opportunity will not be superfluous. Seishun 18 operates for five days, applies to all trains (except Shinkansen) and is a democratic price - $ 115 (11,850 yen).
This pass, like ordinary tickets, is bought at the ticket offices, which are called Ticket Office. Find them at the train stations is easy, look for the JR logo on a bright green background. Also, the ticket can be purchased at the same location or nearby vending machines.
Practical instruction for buying a ticket in the cash register:
Find the destination station and the corresponding rate on the map above the machine. The map shows all regional lines and destination stations. Tariffs are indicated next to each station. Refill the account. The machines accept coins of 10, 50, 100, 500 yen and denominations of 1,000 yen., Most take also notes of greater denomination. Choose the number of tickets that you intend to buy. By default this is one ticket, so skip this step if traveling alone. Click on the button that confirms the total amount of your purchase. Take the printed tickets.
The further procedure is simple and many are well-known - the ticket is applied to the scanner or passed to the controller, after which it is saved until the end of the trip, they will need you once more on the way out.
Finally, another practical recommendation: if in doubt or confused - do not be afraid to ask. At the ticket office, just name the station you need. Do the same, referring to someone for help. Speak clearly, take your time, you will be sure to understand and help.
Prices for railway tickets.
For those who are engaged in the formation of the program and the budget of the trip, I give below some information on some possibilities, packages of services and prices, as well as the cost of standard options for travel. This information is far from exhaustive, but it will help you find your bearings.
Standard cost of tickets on routes between cities:
Tokyo - Nikko (120 km) - 13 dollars / 1 320 yen; Tokyo - Yokohama (30 km) - 4.50 dollars / 450 yen; Tokyo - Kamakura (50 km) - 8.80 dollars / 890 yen; Osaka - Kyoto (45 km) - 5.30 dollars / 540 yen.
Kansai Aria pass.
Pass is not accepted on the lines of Shinkansen.
Sanyo Area Pass.
Kyushyu Pass.
Regional travel on. Kyushu for 5 days is 154 dollars / 16,000 yen.
Hokkaido Pass.
Regional travel on. Hokkaido:
3 days - $ 135 / 14,000 yen; 5 days - 176 dollars / 18 000 yen.
I will mention a few important practical points:
On all major routes, there are discounts for different categories of passengers. For example, for students or children under the age of 12 years. There is no general rule regarding the amount of discounts, it depends on the season, the route and the railway company. On many routes you can buy tickets, taking advantage of seasonal discounts. In Japan, the best season in terms of prices is Christmas and New Year, as well as traditional Japanese holidays beginning of May. Bought, but not used ticket can be passed. Different carriers have different rules on this score, but in any case, the earlier you address this issue, the fewer losses there will be. In order to resolve this issue without delay, I would recommend asking for help from someone who speaks Japanese. If you miss the train with a fixed date and place - do not worry too much. In most cases, you can reissue your ticket with a small surcharge. In case of delay or cancellation of trains for passengers compensation is provided. However, for Japan, the delay in any train is an extraordinary case. In my memory this happened only through the fault of earthquakes.
I can not help but mention one rather funny fact. In the super modern infrastructure of the Japanese railway transport, there continue to exist ordinary night trains. They are called Night Trains. These are trains with "old-regime" cars: in each of them shelves are located, only in contrast to the customary drawing they are installed along and separated from the passage by light curtains.
In addition, in these trains there is one more - elite - configuration of seats: private coupes, called "nobi nobi seats" (nobi nobi seats). Now such trains remained only on the route between Tokyo and the city of Izumo in the west of Japan. This route is exotic, if you want to use it, make sure to make an advance booking - places, especially "Noby Nobi", are often sold for a long time ahead.

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