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Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 8:22 PM
Navitime for Japan Travel and Japan train system

Travelling in other country can be a bit stressful if you are not familiar with their public transportation system. Japan is quite famous for their efficient public transport. But even so, with so many trains and buses come at once, one can get lost easily. This is when Navitime comes in rescue, which I'll talk more about it later.

I stayed in Japan for 3 weeks. So, public transportation means a lot to me. It was my only way to travel from one place to another, from one mountain to another. A bit information about Japan's mountain, most of the mountains can be easily accessible by public transport. But, though it is easily accessible, you still need to plan your journey. If you don't, you will waste lots of time and money. Unless if that's your intention, then feel free to do so. 

**Sorry, I will not cover about Japan rail pass nor the shinkansen as I did not use it during my stay in Japan.

Understand how Japanese public transport works and how to use it.

1. First, get your prepaid IC card.

When you know where you are staying and going, it's easier to decide which card you should buy. Japan has 3 different prepaid train cards that function like Touch n Go. The maximum amount one can load may be vary with each card, but for Suica, you can reload up to 10,000 yen maximum. And good news, there's discount when you use the IC. A bit, but oh well, it's better than none. And you can use Suica card anywhere as long as you see the Suica logo.

I found a very good website about this prepaid IC card. Read more here.


2. Don't forget to ask for the train map.

Ask around for the train map. Even if you don't feel like reading it now, take it anyway. You NEED it. (I only stayed at Tokyo area, so I will cover around this area)

3. Now, you have got your prepaid IC card, and your train map. Let's download the Navitime app. 

All you have to do is search for 'Navitime Japan' on Apple App Store/Playstore and download it. It's free (but has in-app purchases to unlock certain features). This app is accurate and fast. It gives you information on lots of things like train (obviously), weather, free wifi in Japan, places in Japan and such. When you search for train, it will also state the train's time of arrival and fare, which is good because it gives you rough idea on how to manage your time and plan your journey. And the best part is, it will notify the user if there is a train delay! Awesome!





Japan train has 37 lines from different companies. Currently, JR East is the leading train company in Japan.

You can download the full map here.

4. Train categories

All types of Japanese trains, from local to shinkansen, are typically classified into the following categories:

Local (kakueki-teisha or futsu-densha) 
Local trains stop at every station.

Rapid (kaisoku) 

Rapid trains skip some stations. There is no difference in the ticket price between local and rapid trains.

Express (kyuko) 
Express trains stop at even fewer stations than rapid trains. Japan Railways (JR)charges an express fee in addition to the base fare.

Limited Express (tokkyu)
Limited express trains stop only at major stations. A limited express fee usually has to be paid in addition to the base fare. It is typically between 500 and 4000 yen. JR railway companies always charge this fee, but some other private railway companies do not.

Super Express (shinkansen)
Shinkansen are only operated by JR. Shinkansen run along separate tracks and platforms. A limited express fee has to be paid in addition to the base fare. It is typically between 800 and 8000 yen.

(Taken from Japan-guide.com)

Here for more information on Japan train guide.

5. How to use the app?

Easy peasy. All you have to do is type in your current location and stop point, choose your route (I always opt for the cheapest fare route.huhu) and follow the instruction/map. Usually you will have to change train, sometimes few trains in one journey. This is where most people get lost as you are confuse on which exit you should take, which train line you should use. I advise you to always read the signage and train map. 


For example, you are from Nakano and you want to go to Takaosan. From the app, it shows that you have to take JR Chuo Line. So find JR train station. Don't simply go to any train stations, make sure you go to JR train station okay, not Metro train station, not Keio . Find the signage of 'JR Line Tokyo-Takao, once you found it, follow the signage to the train lane. Take the train and stop at Takao. From Takao, you have to find Keio Line and go to Keio Line Takao-Takaosanguichi. Take the train and stop at Takaosanguichi. Walk a little bit from the train station, about 8 minutes, you will then find yourself at the entrance of Takao-san (Mount Takao)! 

Usually if you are familiar with our country's LRT system, using Japan's train will not be so hard for you. It is more or less the same system, it is just that you have to hop from one train to another to get to the destination.

Another thing that will confuse your brain is...


credit : getteimages

The so-many-number-signage inside train station! But don't worry, take your time to read the signage. Read carefully. If you still confuse, just ask around. I usually go to the ticket counter and ask the train workers. Hehe. Japanese are kind and helpful. They will surely help you. :)

6. Another tips!

Don't forget to keep the train tickets as souvenir! Before leaving the station, instead of using the automatic gates, go to ticket counter and tell them that you want the train ticket as souvenir. They will stamp the ticket and give it to you. I have been doing this for countless time. Haha.


Also, bring blank note book everywhere for some stamp hunting fun! Each JR train station has its own stamp, fill your notebook with the stamps and collect as many as you can! (Even the mountains have its own stamp okay)

Minami Alps's stamp

And have fun travelling in Japan! It was definitely a fun and exciting journey for me. 
Hope it helps :D

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