Rail Transportation


> Rail Transportation


Japan has one of the most advanced and modern rail systems around the world. When you travel to Japan, you should take advantage of this rail system.


Japan Rail Pass ジャパンレールパス



The Japan Rail Pass (ジャパンレールパス), also called the JR Pass, is a rail pass for only overseas visitors sold by the Japan Railways Group, and is valid for travel on all major forms of transportation provided by the JR Group in Japan, with a few exceptions.

The Rail Pass is designed to stimulate travel and tourism throughout the country. It is only cost effective for long-distance travel, particularly by bullet trains. While the savings from extensive travel can be considerable, those who travel too little may in fact lose money on a rail pass.

The Japan Rail Pass is of limited use within the big cities. For Tokyo for example, it does cover the Yamanote Line which goes to several popular tourist areas as well as in Osaka on the Loop Line, plus in Kyoto on the Nara and Arashiyama Lines.


JR Pass JR Pass

The Japan Rail Pass is also available through some international travel agents.


Shinkansen, the Bullet Train, 新幹線


The Shinkansen, meaning new trunkline, but colloquially known in English as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. Initially, it was built to connect distant Japanese regions with Tokyo, the capital, in order to aid economic growth and development.


The shinkansen high-speed trains are the fastest way to discover all of Japan, reaching a speed of 320 km/h (199 mph). The Japan Railways (JR) network, which can be accessed by the Japan Rail Pass, practically covers all the country, with the addition of the new Hokkaido Shinkansen, and the popular Tokaido Shinkansen. The nine Shinkansen lines take you in different directions around Japan. Two of them, the Kyushu and the Tokaido Shinkansen lines, go south from Tokyo. The Sanyo Shinkansen line also runs south but departs from Shin-Osaka. The other six lines either take you north or inland from Tokyo. These are the Akita, Hokuriku, Joetsu, Tohoku, Yamagata Shinkansen lines. Finally, the Hokkaido line takes you the furthest north, all the way to Hokkaido island. 


There are different types of trains and services which run on each of the Shinkansen lines. There are express trains which are the fastest, semi express trains, and local trains.


For instance, on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, which links Tokyo to Osaka, the express train makes six stops, the semi express makes between seven and 12, and local trains stop at all 17.


  • Nozomi のぞみ

    Nozomi is the fastest train service running on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. The service stops at only the largest stations, and along the stretch between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, Nozomi services using N700 series equipment reach speeds of 300 km/h.


  • Hikari ひかり

    Hikari is the name of a high-speed train service running on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen “bullet train” lines in Japan. Slower than the premier Nozomi but faster than the all-stations Kodama, the Hikari is the fastest train service on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen that is covered in the Japan Rail Pass.


  • Kodama こだま

    Kodama is one of the three train services running on the Tōkaidō/San’yō Shinkansen. Kodama trains stop at all stations, making Kodama the slowest Shinkansen service for trips between major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. The Kodama trains are used primarily for travel to and from smaller cities such as Atami.



Japan Railways Group, JR


The Japan Railways Group, more commonly known as JR Group, consists of seven for-profit companies (6 passenger lines) that took over most of the assets and operations of the government-owned Japanese National Railways on April 1, 1987.


  • Hokkaido Railway Company
    JR Hokkaido
  • East Japan Railway Company
    (JR East)
  • Central Japan Railway Company
    (JR Central)
  • Central Japan Railway Company
    (JR West)
  • Shikoku Railway Company
    (JR Shikoku)
  • Kyushu Railway Company
    (JR Kyushu)


Tokyo Metro and Toei Subways 東京メトロ & 都営地下鉄


The Tokyo subway is a part of the extensive rapid transit system that consists of Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway in the Greater Tokyo area of Japan. While the subway system itself is largely within the city center, the lines extend far out via extensive through services onto suburban railway lines.


  • Toei Asakusa Line 都営浅草線
  • Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line メトロ日比谷線
  • Tokyo Metro Ginza Line メトロ銀座線
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line メトロ丸ノ内線
  • Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line メトロ東西線
  • Toei Mita Line 都営三田線
  • Tokyo Metro Namboku Line メトロ南北線
  • Tokyo Metro Yūrakuchō Line メトロ有楽町線
  • Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line メトロ千代田線
  • Toei Shinjuku Line 都営新宿線
  • Tokyo Metro Hanzōmon Line メトロ半蔵門線
  • Toei Ōedo Line 都営大江戸線
  • Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line メトロ副都心線


Tokyo Yamanote Line 東京山手線


The Yamanote Line (山手線 Yamanote-sen) is a railway loop line in Tokyo, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It is one of Tokyo’s busiest and most important lines, connecting most of Tokyo’s major stations and urban centers, including Marunouchi, the Yūrakuchō/Ginza area, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno, with all but two of its 29 stations connecting to other railway or underground (subway) lines.


  • Shinagawa 品川
  • Ōsaki 大崎
  • Gotanda 五反田
  • Meguro 目黒
  • Ebisu 恵比寿
  • Shibuya 渋谷
  • Harajuku 原宿
  • Yoyogi 代々木
  • Shinjuku 新宿
  • Shin-Ōkubo 新大久保
  • Takadanobaba 高田馬場
  • Mejiro 目白
  • Ikebukuro 池袋
  • Ōtsuka 大塚
  • Sugamo 巣鴨
  • Komagome 駒込
  • Tabata 田端
  • Nishi-Nippori 西日暮里
  • Nippori 日暮里
  • Uguisudani 鶯谷
  • Ueno 上野
  • Okachimachi 御徒町
  • Akihabara 秋葉原
  • Kanda 神田
  • Tokyo 東京
  • Yūrakuchō 有楽町
  • Shimbashi 新橋
  • Hamamatsuchō 浜松町
  • Tamachi 田町
  • Takanawa Gateway 高輪ゲートウェイ


Tokyo Chūō Main Line 中央本線

Between Tokyo and Shinjuku 東京駅ー新宿駅


The Chūō Main Line (中央本線), commonly called the Chūō Line, is one of the major trunk railway lines in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Nagoya, although it is the slowest direct railway connection between the two cities; the coastal Tōkaidō Main Line is slightly faster, and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the fastest rail link between the cities.


The Chūō Main Line connects Tokyo to Shinjuku by direct route instead of having to go around the loop, Yamanote Line.

  • Tokyo 東京 Chūō Line Station
  • Kanda 神田 Chūō Line Station
  • Ocyanomizu 御茶ノ水 Chūō Line Station
    • Suidobashi 水道橋 Local Chūō Line & Sobu Line Station
    • Iidabashi 飯田橋 Local Chūō Line & Sobu Line Station
    • Ichigaya 市ヶ谷 Local Chūō Line & Sobu Line Station
  • Yotsuya 四谷 Chūō Line Station
    • Shinanomachi 信濃町 Local Chūō Line & Sobu Line Station
    • Seandagaya 千駄ヶ谷 Local Chūō Line & Sobu Line Station
  • Yoyogi 代々木 Chūō Line Station
  • Shinjuku 新宿 Chūō Line Station