How to buy tickets in Japanese

japan train ticket
Before our last visit to Japan, I decided before we left, that I wasn’t going to purchase the Japan Rail Pass that gives you unlimited travel on Japanese Railways for a certain number of days. I had crunched the numbers and figured that I could get away a little bit cheaper if I just purchased the tickets that I needed at the time. It ended up being more affordable, but I did spend a lot of time at ticket counters purchasing tickets.

So here is some essential Japanese phrases for purchasing tickets. You will also find them very handy for purchasing tickets to any attractions you want to visit.

When purchasing a train ticket you’ll want to tell the ticket agent the destination you want to travel to followed by the number of tickets you want to buy. For example let’s say you wanted to travel to Kyoto.

You would say that as:

Kyoto made (Kyoto mah-day)

It basically means “Kyoto Bound.”

Now you just attach the number of tickets you want to the end along with “please.”

Kyoto made ichi-mai kudasai (Kyoto mah-day eechee-my ku-dah-sigh)
Which means “One ticket to Kyoto please.”

Now say you wanted to purchase a ticket to see Osaka Castle. Simple!

Ichi-mai kudasai

And if you want to purchase two tickets instead of one? Just replace ichi-mai with ni-mai.

Also, another handy lesson that I had to learn the hard way is, if you miss your train, you can just get on the next one that comes. So stay where you are and don’t move to another platform, because those trains are probably going someplace completely different. Most of the trains at that gate will be going to the same destination; some will just stop at more out of the way stops than others. This is especially true if you destination is a major city like Tokyo or Osaka etc.

I spent 2 hours on the Nagano train platform before I figured that one out :P

Reprinted from Green Tea Design. Photo by Andrionni Ribo.

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