[Japan] ~ Surviving its Railway System

It’s not the first time that I survived a railway system but with idea of Japan not as tourist-friendly as Korea, I was initially scared with this Osaka trip.

But I did survive and I am happy (and proud) about it that I am breaking rules with this entry. One – I am writing this when I should be working on those backlog entries. Two – I am not into anything as close to what could pass as informative.

GOPR0903_1444382592364_highRailway entrance at Kansai International Airport


But then again, I may have been too happy and proud. (Do not read more if you wish to explore and get ‘it’ on your own.)


  • Make (rough) plan on places you want to go to (and you don’t have to limit yourself to a city) and research on which ‘pass’ would work best for you.

Japan has such a beautifully crafted train system that it is possible to hop to as many without having to spend on airfare. Train could still be expensive though and if you want to spare yourself from inconvenience of getting tickets every time, consider pass options.

In my case, I chose the Osaka Amazing Pass which gave me unlimited train rides and free entrance / tickets to some facilities within Osaka. It was only later though when I realized that for the kind of traveler that I am, there could have been a better fit – that is, those passes that extend to other areas in the Kansai region.

20151003_093818Many pass options (and a sample ticket from the vending machine)



Choices when in Kyoto


20151005_100926On that day, got myself a Hanshin Pass to get to Nishinomiya and Kobe


  • Almost impossible to get lost as long as you can read English, Japanese (and in some cases, Korean) and know your direction signs. Color codes help too.

 Signs are strategically located that these are helpful every step of the way. Just keep going straight until you see a sign that tells you otherwise. Knowing the exit gates closest to your destination helps but popular / tourist-y ones are listed in exit guides located in places in each station.

20151002_071333Helpful color codes 


20151002_130243With Osaka Zoo as a popular tourist destination, these helpful clues present too!


20151002_130442Hard-to-miss exit number


  • Japan loves printing stuff. Get yourself a map you can bastardize.

A comprehensive map is usually available at the tourism kiosk at the airport but one that is inconveniently big. Since I was on Amazing Pass, its map came in most handy and useful when exploring the city. When I explored Kyoto and Nishinomiya area though, I had no choice but to rely on the giant map.

Maps are critical as while there is a detailed one each ticket vending machine, no English translations of station names are available so one has to rely on station numbers and colors – which are practically useless if there is no legend as to which corresponds to which. Hence, the tourist-friendly maps.

20151004_074114One of the many maps and my ticket from Osaka to Kyoto

(Osaka Amazing Pass does not cover train to Kyoto)


  • Look for vending machines with English option.

This was a lesson learned for me as I initially used one in all Japanese. I kept on pressing buttons – like a headless chicken guessing until someone helped me out. In another incident did I realize that some machines have a button that translates everything in English.

But if you cannot find one – the process is easy actually. Know your destination’s station number, look up to know how much fare is, drop or insert money equivalent or more than such fare, press the amount, then voila – machine spits out ticket to your destination.

If you make a mistake, don’t fret. Every station has more vending machines that let you adjust your fare.

You drop your money, insert your ticket and it will automatically get from what you gave how much more you need.

20151005_223236Press that button for English


  • When all else fails, ask. 

Almost each station has an officer stationed beside the set of turnstile. Ask. Some do not speak good English as those manning the tourist kiosks but they would try their best to help.

Not a tip but might be helpful. When in an escalator, stay on the right if you intend to just stand up. On the right when you are in a hurry and you wish to overtake.


Here are more snapshots!


20151002_055503Crowdless station at early in the morning


GOPR0908_1444382592364_highRed line track



Break from the subway on my way to Kyoto



20151004_074839Inside train to Kyoto


20151004_082339Looks less complicated but other lines that extend to other cities present


20151004_193522On my way back to Osaka now


20151004_204331Lowest ticket denomination


20151005_102600Train to Nishinomiya


20151005_105315Again know your exit


20151005_105319Guide at Hanshin


20151005_105338English please


20151005_140138NIshinomiya Station, Hanshin Line


20151005_163139Ashiya Station, Hanshin Line


20151005_165053Where beer is allowed while on the train


20151005_173348At the station closest to Kobe


20151005_173449Chaos of colors


20151005_223055These colors on the floor add character to the stations


20151005_223259Lockers available at the stations


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