NILS Fukuoka Times

Today's Phrase

Essential Japanese Phrases Every Study-Abroad Student Needs To Learn ― Transportation


Commuting in Japan

After sharing with you regarding phrases commonly used during conversation in general as well as during dining out in restaurants in Japan, let us now divert our attention to transportation in Japan!

Japan Has One of the World’s Best Transport System

Japan has an efficient public transportation network, especially within metropolitan areas and between the large cities. Japanese public transportation is characterized by its punctuality, its superb service, and the large crowds of people using it.

Whether you are traveling by bullet train, plane, express train, highway bus, city bus, or ferry, Japan has, without doubt, an excellent public transport. Costs may be on the high side but standards of service and efficiency are correspondingly reliable.

Frequently, Japan visitors and residents are striking out on their own by car hire or bicycle. Part of visiting Japan is enjoying the comfort, safety and reliability of its various modes of getting around from bullet train to steam train and from Tokyo taxi to Kyushu ferry boat.

Some of the commonly used phrases and words are found below.

Where is the nearest subway? 一番近い地下鉄(ちかてつ)はどこですか
Do I need to change train? 電車の乗(の)り換(か)えが必要(ひつよう)ですか
Does this bus stop at …? このバスは。。。で停(と)まりますか
What is the next stop? 次に駅は何ですか
Which line goes to…? 。。。は何線(せん)で行けますか
One-way ticket 片道(かたみち)
Return ticket 往復(おうふく)
Student ticket 学生切符(きっぷ)
Train 電車
Subway 地下鉄(ちかてつ)
Local train 普通電車(ふつうでんしゃ)
Rapid train 急速電車(きゅうそくでんしゃ)
Special rapid train 特別快速列車(とくべつかいそくれっしゃ)
New rapid train 新快速電車(しんかいそくでんしゃ)
Express train 急行列車(きゅうこうれっしゃ)
Limited express train 特急列車(とっきゅうれっしゃ)
Bullet train 新幹線(しんかんせん)
Monorail モノレール
Tram 市電(しでん)

Japan Has an Extensive Transportation Network

Notice that the list for this section is mainly focused on trains in Japan. That is because Japan has got so many different kinds of trains. In fact, too many! I have heard from my own Japanese friends that even they sometimes get confused with which trains to board. If locals can get confused, what more foreigners?

But the fact that they have that many kinds of trains is also what makes Japan really awesome. Commuting in Japan is really convenient thanks to the broad and well-connected network of trains, subways, trams and bullet trains nationwide.

The Different Kinds of Trains

As you can see in the above list, between “local train” and “limited express train”, the local trains are typically the “slowest / cheapest” as it stops at every station. As it goes down the list, it gets more expensive (although not necessarily) and travel time gets shorter. Limited express trains are the “fastest / most expensive” because it stops only at major stations. A limited express fee usually has to be paid in addition to the base fare. It is usually between 500 yen and 4000 yen.

So, my suggestion if you are planning to take any of the trains in Japan is to plan ahead! You can use this website ( for guidance and reference. This website is really useful for all kinds of public transportation in Japan, especially train routes. Basically, you will be shown departure / arrival time, the kind of train you will be taking, the ticket price (reserved & non-reserved) and much more.


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