Kanji Cheat Sheets
Riding the bullet train (新幹線) 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.
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 (乗車券) and the second ticket is called the Super (Limited) Express (新幹線特急券).
Basic fare ticket
The basic fare ticket (乗車券) is what you will use to get to the station which the bullet train leaves from. For example, if you buy a bullet train (新幹線) ticket from Osaka Station, you’ll need the basic fare ticket (乗車券)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 (都区内) and city zone (市内) of departure and the destination. Underneath it is the period of validity (～日間有効), while the train line’s name (経由) 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 (券面表示の都区市内各駅下車前途無効) and the date of issue (発行).
Lastly, if you happen to be using a student discounted ticket, you will be asked to present a valid student ID (学割証明書携帯して下さい).
|Basic Fare Ticket||乗車券||jousha ken|
|Stopover permitted within a certain area||券面表示の都区市内各駅下車前途無効||kenmen hyouji no toku shinai kakueki gesha zento mukou|
|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
Similar to the basic fare ticket (乗車券), the Super (Limited) Express (特急券)also has the departure and arrival station. Underneath it, you’ll see the exact date and time of departure (発) and the corresponding arrival time (着). 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 (全席禁煙). Written next to the non-smoking notice is your designated seat and train car number (号車) and seat number (番).
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.
|Super (Limited) Express reserved Seat Ticket||新幹線特急券||shinkansen tokkyu ken|
|Reserved seat||指定席||shitei seki|
|Non-reserved seat||自由席||jiyuu seki|
|Departure date/ time||発||hatsu|
|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||全席禁煙||zenseki kin’en|
|Train ticket price||乗車料金||jousha ryoukin|
|Limited express charge||特急料金||tokkyuu ryoukin|
|Please bring a valid ID for 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!