Kanji Cheat Sheets

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Kanji Cheat Sheet: Getting a Commuter Pass in Japan

Get a shiny new commuter pass all by yourself with this kanji guide.

The hardest part of buying a commuter pass (ていけん ) in Japan is actually deciding whether you need one or not. If you find yourself traveling on the same route five times a week and back, then it is worth buying the 券  as it will cover the costs between two stations of your choice. Any less and it depends on how much you visit the same stations. 

It’s a good idea to keep track of how much you currently spend on transportation, which stations you often visit, and whether they all lie along a single route. At the same time, check whether there are alternative stations that could be incorporated into your route, a little more walking could save you a good amount of money every month.

Once you’ve crunched the numbers, it’s time to buy the pass itself.

Buying a commuter pass at the station

In most cities, the machine will be marked and will be near the station gates. In other places,  simply use the ticket machines and press the button marked . This will lead to another screen, where you will be given the option to get a new card (しん), renew a pass (けいぞく), reissue a pass or change cards (はっこう).

English Kanji Romaji
Commuter pass 定期券 teikiken
New pass 新規 shinki
Renew a pass 継続 keizoku
Reissue a pass 発行替え hakkou gae

After pressing the issue new card  button, the next page will ask you to choose whether you want a one month, three month, or six-month pass (有効期限). Be aware of the card prices, as buying the three or six-month pass offers a reasonable discount. 

In addition, there will be a list of dates so you can choose when the validity of your pass will start (ようかい). This can be handy as it may be cheaper to pay-as-you-go over the weekend and set your pass to start working on your first day back at work to make some extra savings. 

Kanji Cheat Sheet renewing your Commuter Pass in Japan

Next, you will be given a list of major stations. If your station isn’t one of the more famous ones, you will need to press the ほか button which means “other stations.” Type in the first character of your station and it should pop up.

I highly recommend checking the price of one or two stations after your home or work station.  If you ever use these stations for shopping and the like, include them in your pass. More often than not, the price doesn’t change and it gives you slightly more flexibility.

The next screen will offer you a choice of routes between your home station and your destination station.

I highly recommend checking the price of one or two stations after your home or work station.  If you ever use these stations for shopping and the like, include them in your pass.

If you’re like me and work all over the city, it’s a good idea to get as creative as possible with your route. When I recently renewed my commuter pass, I was able to find a route that covered all the major stations in my hometown, Osaka, even though it was a ridiculous series of stations that nobody would ever realistically ride.

Because the start and end stations were my main workplace, it didn’t matter if the route was a mess because I was able to use it to travel to all the stations I wanted to visit. 

Kanji Cheat Sheet renewing your Commuter Pass in Japan

Filling in the details

After that you will be asked to fill out some details such as your name (めい) date of birth (せいねんがっ日) in the following format  YYYY/MM/DD, and choose either male おとこ and female おんな for your sex (せい)べつ. Then press the confirmation button (かくてい).

Finally, you will be taken to a screen with a list of your personal information (じんじょうほう) and how it will be used. Press the confirmation button (どうする) and you’re all finished. 

English Kanji Romaji
Confirmation 確定 kakutei
Duration of use 有効期限 yukou kigen
Start date 利用開始日 riyou kaishi bi
~station ~駅 ~eki
Other (stations) その他 sono ta
Name 氏名 shimei
Sex 性別 seibetsu
Date of birth 生年月日 seinengappi
Personal information 個人情報 kojin jyouhou
I agree 同意する doui suru
Receipt 領収書 ryoushuu sho

Before leaving the station, check all the details on your card. After all, you don’t want to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a pass that forces you to walk home because the route doesn’t quite cover your station!

Look out for the following information written on the commuter pass:

English Kanji Romaji
How many months the pass is valid for 通勤定期~ヵ月 tsuukinteiki~kagetsu
The major stations on the route 経由 keiyu 
Between~and~ ~から~まで kara ~made
Mr./Ms. sama 
Age in years ~歳 ~sai
Male/Female 男/女 otoko/onna
The amount that was spent on the card in yen ~円 ~en

While it may seem complicated the first time you do it, luckily the first time is the most tedious as the pass renewal option (けい続  ぞく) allows you to skip most of these steps.

So, now that you’ve got the pass, time to put it to use, simply hold it over the card reader at most stations (you don’t even need to touch it) and you’re off.

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Long Term

6 months or longer

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Short Term

1 to 3 months