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Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 09:49
Have any of you experienced rudeness, especially as a tourist, at the JR (Japan Rail) office when coming to Narita along with experiencing discomfort and some hostility from the Subway kiosks?

I feel that I didn't say anything that would offend them nor request something egregious. So, I would come and redeem my JR Rail pass. However, the rudeness and hostility comes when I request to reserve advanced shinkansen tickets as from my experience, the people at the gates and perhaps even the ticketing agents of the stations I would ride the shinkansen from and to do not speak any English. They would act completely annoyed with their facial expressions and one time I had rudely received a "can you leave and do this elsewhere" with a glare as there too was a line. On the other situation where I had encountered this, I had came to Japan for the first time after the 3/11 Tsunami; I bring this up because people were really accomodating as foreigners were extremely hesitant due to ignorance of the nuclear distaster that had accompanied it. The lady, though had an annoyed facial expression, did all of my reservations anyways which let me to believe that the future lady would have done so but told me to leave.

Honestly, I really don't feel I was asking something much and nothing difficult as they could easily go on their computer and print out a ticket as they would reserve my spot on the shinkansen. To a foreigner who does his best to learn as many phrases as he can in order to be a respectful tourist while not being (along with not familiar with Japan) able to learn any hiragana, katagana, let alone kanji; it seems really stressful and especially fearful with loads of uncertainty. Don't these people at the JR rail know that? From my second time after being told to leave and nothing else, she didn't even tell me that I was able to get a seat at the time when I had wanted to leave as there were many trains coming and going even though when I had got to the station (especially outside of Tokyo), I could only say a few words and the names of the city I had wanted to go to, even though the attendant/ticket agent knew I had wanted a ticket to go to that city despite the great difficulty and struggle of communication that was obvious between us.

I hope none of you have experienced this but if you have, please share. In addition, could any of you please tell me not only how to avoid the rude confrontation (by requesting reserved tickets ahead of time - if at all possible), but also how to make advanced shinkansen reservations (at either Green or Regular car) ahead of time without knowing Japanese and only English. Once again, most foreigners want to get advanced reserved tickets for the shinkansen as they want to be certain that they have a secure method of transportation to get to their destination and back to the main city so that they could take the returning flight back home.

Thanks for reading this as I hope I don't get any hostility or flak for posting my experience (for some reason on the internet, there's always one or two people that posts a hostile, nasty, offensive comment that's rude towards the OP).
by mlbartender  

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 15:03
I have seen signs (I think it was at Narita) asking people not to make their seat reservations there (except the ones they need right away) because of the long lines. I wish they would explain this more politely.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 15:05
I have not bought JR tickets in Narita, but have purchased several (including seat reservations and some were well in advance) at different locations.

I have never experienced any rudeness or anything of that kind! Only a true willingness to help us out :)

One time it took around 30 minutes as we were purchasing all the tickets/seats we needed for a two-week round trip, and the clerk knew hardly any english, but was determined to tell is we were able to get a discount on our tickets. Both he and we smiled and laughed the entire 30 minutes. And that was with a large qeue in the ticket office :)

I always prepare the exact time and date as well as train name and bring it as a print out. This helps overcome the language barrier :)
by Meyana (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 16:11

I'm not a tourist but a Japanese resident here in Kanto Region, but may I?

First and foremost, I am sorry to read about your experience. But I'd like to mention that, when making train reservations, locals are politely asked to DIY at a (bilingual) vending machine, or if that doesn't work, to fill out a (Japanese) form to present to a reservation staff. Sometimes, a staff just comes out to assist me on the whole process at a vending machine. Also, stations often have different queues and offices depending on your purpose.

I don't know what exactly was the staff's intention in your situation, but sometimes humans look like they're annoyed at you when it's not really you that they are annoyed at but more at the system. For example, I travel to foreign countries a lot and have received annoying expressions when they can't communicate well with me. I've had uniformed people shout at me or just disappear to their office or share jokes that I couldn't understand. Once everything is straightened out, the expressions change to smiles.

I suggest that you either write to JR East or if you're still in Japan you can phone JR East Infoline in English to have a complaint filed.

When doing so, try to focus on the station staff's attitude as well as the fact you didn't understand why they seemed annoyed. Maybe JR can prevent similar things from happening in the future by putting up bigger signs or by studying about what expressions and attitudes may be more appreciated internationally.

Help us help you.
by Uco rate this post as useful

PS 2017/5/6 16:19
Also don't forget to specify which counters they were. For example, the Tokaido Shinkansen is JR Central while Tohoku Shinkansen is JR East, and of course what officially is called "Subway" is not JR.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 16:54
Having been to Japan many times (the most recent being two weeks ago and also have used JR Center Narita T1) I often find that incorrect use of intonation and incorrect/limited vocabulary in English can lead to misunderstanding or perceived rudeness.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 17:17
I loathe people that go to Japan and complain that no one speaks English.

I think you your situation you must have just had a bad day or something. Your negative experience is not normal. And the lack of communication skills between English speakers and Japanese has never really been a problem. Most Japanese know a little English of some description.

Chalk it up as a bad day. Move on and enjoy the rest of your holidays. Don't let one day destroy what should be a good holiday.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/6 18:14
locals are politely asked to DIY

Indeed, this does not work for rail pass users. It is not possible to make seat reservations for the rail passes at machines.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/7 15:18
Having travelled to Japan on numerous occasions and utilised the JR Narita booking office, I have never had a bad experience when booking tickets. Being polite (assumably you were) and smiling will generally allow for a smooth process.
However, sometimes we all have days where frustration creeps in. I cannot imagine the circumstances where they would ask you to leave. The offices at Narita are generally very busy and the staff occasionally have to deal with grumpy passengers arriving after long haul flights. (not saying you were though- but the people in front of you might have been). They do a great job so we need to cut them a bit of slack. Your experience is not indicative of Japanese service as they strive to provide very high standards.
Enjoy your stay.
by couldabeen rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/8 10:04
Having been to Japan many times (the most recent being two weeks ago and also have used JR Center Narita T1) I often find that incorrect use of intonation and incorrect/limited vocabulary in English can lead to misunderstanding or perceived rudeness.

Agree 100%. I see it often go both ways - from the foreigners trying to speak Japanese and the staff trying to speak English.
by SDJ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/8 14:15
I arrived at Narita T2 on Fri, April 14th about 2pm. After clearing immigration, customs, picking up luggage, forwarding my luggage...I then proceeded to the nearest office to exchange my JR Pass voucher. When I found the place, there was 2 female workers at the doors checking passport and vouchers then handing me a clipboard with the document to fill out while in line. I would say the snake line was already right to the door and maybe spent 15 mins + by the time I got to a counter.

The counter attendant was a trainee (tag on shirt) while her supervisor was standing behind her watching her and our interaction. Also, when I got to the window, there was a sign saying they can only accept shinkansen reservations for the same day. I had requested for immediate use (JR Pass) and she asked where I was going that day and told her to Shinjuku. She then proceeded to reserve my NEX ticket that left in less than half an hour. I then politely pointed to the sign and asked that if I can make reservations for Shinkansen when I arrived at Shinjuku Sta. She asked me when and where I wanted to go and proceeded to tell her early Sunday morning to Kyoto from Shinagawa Sta because I heard it was easier than Tokyo Sta. and she smiled and said yes. She then asked what time I wanted to leave and told her I wasn't sure but she pulled up the times and told me what times available. I picked a time and she then made reservations for me. While waiting for her to input all the info, I sneaked a glance out the door and line was already forming outside.

Since she was trainee, she was very pleasant and helpful. Was smiling throughout our interaction. And her supervisor also was nodding and smiling approvingly on the way how the trainee conducted herself. Also, would like to mention that while I was in line waiting I overheard at a window close to the line the attendant declining to make Shinkansen reservations only NEX for them to get to Shibuya I think. I believe they wanted to make Shinkansen reservations for Monday and there was 6 of them.

In Kyoto, I made reservations Tuesday morning for a day trip to Hiroshima for Thursday. In line, a woman attendant came around with scratch paper asking when and where. I told her I wanted to reserve Shinkansen to Hiroshima and back same day. Told her I wanted the one that leaved Kyoto early morning and leave Hiroshima between 18-1900. She left and returned with the scratch paper filled with the info to give to the counter attendant. While waiting in line, I decided to check Hyperdia again for times. When I got to the counter, I gave the lady the paper but showed her on my cell the return time I wanted. I gave her my cell while she looked and made my tickets. Throughout they were friendly and very efficient.

Later in Kyoto, I made reservations that Thursday evening after arriving from Hiroshima for Kyoto to Takayama. I already had Hyperdia up on my cell with different routes for Saturday morning. I gave my JR Pass (Grn) and showed my cell on the time I wanted. He informed me that route (train) had no Green carts and so on. We had a hard time communicating and I knew he was getting frustrated but he was still helpful. I kept apologizing in English and Japanese. I finally scrolled down on Hyperdia and showed him another time and he nodded and smiled and got me reservations for the Wide View.

My next reservation out of Kanazawa back to Shinjuku went without a hitch. All very helpful.

For reserving Shinkansen, from what I've read and experienced. Reserving for one day is prefered especially if there's more than one (I was solo) unless it's back to back days (which is crazy way of travelling but some do). I just made sure to reserve the day I arrive or at least 2 days before I travel. I didn't do all my reservations all one time knowing that it will inconvience a lot of people. This only inconvenienced me but easily taken care of since I'll be at any station any given time to make future reservations. Narita will always be busy so I would say don't do all reservations over there and do it elsewhere.

I'm not sure if me having a Green pass made a difference that they were helpful in making reservations. I'm glad I didn't have your experience. Like what another poster said...just chalk it up as a bad day and move on. Don't dwell on it. I've encountered worse at other places including my very own country from what you're describing. Sorry for the long post....but wanted to share my experience if it helps anyone.
by hibell77 rate this post as useful

Re: Rudeness at JR Office at Narita 2017/5/9 09:42
I notice you posted this during Golden Week. Did you happen to experience these problems during this time? If so, it's because Golden Week is the most busy and stressful time of the year as the entire country is on holidays at the same time. I don't think staff were rude, so much as overworked. I live in Japan and traveled to Kansai during Golden Week and noticed that train staff were a lot more abrupt than usual. So that's probably why. If your problem was during another time of the year, well sorry for that. I think it helps if you make the effort to learn a little bit of Japanese, like 'excuse me' and 'thank you', instead of expecting everyone to know English. Of course, people working in tourism industries should know English, but it comes across as arrogant to waltz into a JR office and expect it. A bit of humility goes a long way, and doing small things like using Google translate or writing things down in advance helps a lot.
by Jenn Jett (guest) rate this post as useful

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