Kanji Cheat Sheets

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Kanji Cheat Sheet: For Taking the Shinkansen

She took the bullet train going everywhere.

Riding the bullet train (しんかんせん) is something most travelers look forward to when coming to Japan. It’s fast, punctual, and a cultural experience all rolled into one. The sheer convenience of traveling at lightning speed from one prefecture to another, all while eating a cutely decked out bento box, sets it apart from all the other kinds of trains in Japan.

For most first-timers, the bullet train ticketing system might feel a bit complicated. Sometimes require you to use two tickets instead of one and vice versa. The reservation and payment system might also be confusing if you didn’t avail of the JR Pass ahead of time. Not to mention, the tickets you’ll be purchasing don’t come with line by line English translations.

Shinkansen tickets

As previously mentioned, there may be times where you’ll need to keep two types of tickets on you. Losing both will cost you an arm and a leg, so keep them close.

To tell the difference between the basic fare ticket and the actual bullet train ticket, look for the corresponding characters on the uppermost portion: The first ticket is called the basic fare ticket (じょうしゃけん) and the second ticket is called the Super (Limited) Express (しんかんせんとっきゅうけん).

Basic fare ticket 

The basic fare ticket (じょうしゃけん) is what you will use to get to the station which the bullet train leaves from. For example, if you buy a bullet train (しんかんせん) ticket from Osaka Station, you’ll need the basic fare ticket (じょうしゃけん) to get to Shin-Osaka Station to be able to ride the bullet train. 

Written on the second line of the ticket are the general area (ない) and city zone (ない) of departure and the destination. Underneath it is the period of validity (~かんゆうこう), while the train line’s name (経由けいゆう) is written in smaller text on top of it. Toward the lower part of the ticket, it will mention that you are not allowed to make any stopovers within the given area (けんめんひょうないかくしゃぜんとうこうかくえきしゃぜんとうこう) and the date of issue (はっこう).

Lastly, if you happen to be using a student discounted ticket, you will be asked to present a valid student ID (がくわりしょうめいしょけいたいしてさい).

English Japanese Romaji
Basic Fare Ticket 乗車券 jousha ken
Area 都区内 toku nai
City 市内 shi nai
Availability ~日間有効 ~kakan yuukou
Via/through 経由 keiyu
Stopover permitted within a certain area 券面表示の都区市内前途無効 kenmen hyouji no toku shinai kakueki gesha zento mukou
Issue 発行 hakkou
Please bring a valid ID to avail of a student discount 学割証明書携帯して下さい gakuwari shoumei-sho keitai shite kudasai

Super (Limited) Express ticket

Kanji Cheat Sheet: For taking the Shinkansen

Similar to the basic fare ticket (じょうしゃけん), the Super (Limited) Express (しんかんせんとっきゅうけん) also has the departure and arrival station. Underneath it, you’ll see the exact date and time of departure (はつ) and the corresponding arrival time (ちゃく). After that, you’ll see the name of the train written in katakana, the number of the train, and the notice that the entire train is non-smoking (ぜんせききんえん). Written next to the non-smoking notice is your designated seat and train car number (ごうしゃ) and seat number (ばん).

As for the figures below your seat details, it’s a breakdown of the shinkansen fees. You will also see the same warning about stopovers and the need for a valid student ID, just like the basic fare ticket. 

English Japanese Romaji
Bullet train 新幹線 shinkansen
Super (Limited) Express reserved Seat Ticket 新幹線特急券 shinkansen tokkyu sen
Reserved seat 指定席 shitei seki
Non-reserved seat 自由席 jiyuu seki
Departure date/ time hatsu
Arrival time chaku
Seat number ban
Car number 号車 gou sha
Stopovers are not allowed 途中下車前途無効 tochuu gesha zento mukou
All seats are non-smoking 全席禁菸  zenseki kinen
Train ticket price 乗車料金  jousha ryoukin
Limited express charge 特急料金  tokkyuu ryoukin
Please bring a valid ID to avail of a student discount 学割証明書携帯して下さい gakuwari shoumei-sho keitai shite kudasai

Now that you’ve studied up on all the kanji seen on bullet train tickets get up and go! The options are endless, and if you need some ideas on some great destinations all around the country, make sure to do a thorough sweep here. Safe travels!

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