Below is an introduction to regular JR train tickets. Note, that other railway companies use different rules and fares. Also, check our page about how to use trains, if you are not familiar with Japanese trains.
Below are the various fares and fees, which make up a regular JR train ticket:
Base Fare (jōsha ryōkin)
This is the basic cost to get from A to B, which applies to all regular train tickets. The basic fare depends on the travel distance between your departure and destination station. The cost per kilometer is around 20 yen for short distances, and decreases to under 10 yen for long distances.
Limited Express Fee (tokkyū ryōkin)
This is a supplement fee which has to be paid in addition to the base fare, if you use shinkansen (bullet trains) or tokkyu (limited express trains). The limited express fee depends on the distance traveled and on the train.
Limited express fees for shinkansen range from around 800 yen for short distances to around 11,000 yen for long distances. For tokkyu, they range from around 500 to around 4,000 yen.
Green Car Fee (gurīn ryōkin)
This is a supplement fee which has to be paid, if you use a green car, i.e. first class seat. The green car supplement costs between 500 yen for short distances and 8,000 yen for long distances.
Seat Reservation Fee (shiteiseki ryōkin)
This is a supplement fee which has to be paid, if you use a reserved rather than a non-reserved seat. The cost of a seat reservation depends on the season, and is typically 530 yen during the regular season and +/- 200 yen during high and low seasons respectively. Seat reservations can be made, starting one month in advance of the departure date.
Night Train Berth Fee (shindai ryōkin)
This is a supplement fee which has to be paid, if you use a berth or private compartment on a night train. There are several categories of berths and compartments, ranging in cost from around 6,600 to around 14,000 yen. Please visit our night train page for more details.
Entering The Station Ticket (nyūjōken)
If you want to pass the ticket gates of a station without taking a train, for example, to wait for somebody on the platform or to get to the other side of a large station complex, you have to purchase this type of ticket. Depending on the region of Japan, it costs between 130 and 200 yen, which is basically the price of the cheapest train ticket available.
The duration of validity of a base fare ticket depends on the travel distance covered by it. Tickets for 100 kilometers or less are valid on one calendar day. Tickets from 100 to 200 kilometers are valid on two consecutive days. After that, the duration of validity increases by one day for every additional 200 kilometers traveled.
Note also, that a stop-over, i.e. getting off at a station (and passing the gates), between your departure and destination station is not possible with a ticket that covers 100 kilometers or less; but it is possible with tickets that cover more than 100 kilometers. Backtracking is not allowed.
Supplemental fees, such as limited express, express and green car fees apply only to one continuous trip. If you make a stop over, you will have to pay the supplemental fees separately for each section traveled.
Adult (12 years and older)
Adults pay the full fare.
Child (6-11 years)
Children (kodomo) pay half the price of the base fare, (limited) express fee and seat reservation. However, no child discount applies to the green car fee.
Young Child (1-5 years)
Up to two young children (yoji) per accompanying adult or child travel for free, while the child fare applies to any additional young child. The child fare also applies to young children who occupy a seat in the reserved seat section.
Infant (0 years)
Infants (nyuji) travel for free, unless they occupy a seat in the reserved seat section, in which case the child fare applies.
The following are some of the discounts, which apply to regular tickets:
Round Trip Discount
10 percent off on round trip tickets, if the trip covers more than 600 kilometers one way.
Multiple Ticket Discount
Eleven one-way tickets for the price of ten on routes 200 kilometers or shorter. The tickets must be used within 3 months and can be used in either direction.
20 percent discount on tickets that cover more than 100 kilometers. Students must be registered as student with JR in order to be eligible. It includes junior high school, high school and university students as well as students of other recognized schools.
10-15 percent discount to groups of eight or more adults and 30-50 percent discount to groups of eight or more students. Additional discounts apply to groups of more than 30 people. Group tickets must be reserved at least two weeks in advance of usage.