If you are planning a trip around Japan using only local trains and you bought the famous Seishun 18, this guide can be for you!
(If you do not know what Seishun18 is, the link below can be useful to get some information)
My first trip using local trains took me from Tokyo to Kanazawa. It was long, tiring, but an unforgettable experience. Perfect also for those who want to save money and love to travel!
I traveled alone when my level of Japanese was less than basic, and I managed it without problems. So do not be intimidated by the language barrier!
First of all, choose your destination! The Seishun 18 allows you to reach any corner of the country as it is issued by the Jr railway line, the largest company in Japan (I’m talking about the company that owns the famous Shinkansen – “bullet trains”).
Obviously, if the destination you want to reach is isolated, more time will be required to get there. If instead, you opt for big towns, you will see that even the travel time is not too excessive!
Again, to get all the information regarding the rules of Seishun 18, take two minutes to read this article.
It wasn’t easy to find a site that would show me the route of trains that I could actually take using this ticket.
The rules, in fact, allow you to just use local and express JR trains (with some exceptions). Between them, you can not use trains with reserved seats.
Therefore, it becomes difficult to plan a trip using Google Maps filters and the JR website, but thanks to Yo experience, Iìve found a solution through this site called “Jorudan.co.jp“. It’s in Japanese but don’t let it scare you. With a bit of patience, you will see that it is easy to understand.
Personally, I’ve found it really useful: it indicates in detail on which trains you have to get on and off, the number and name of the stations, the times you must respect and the tracks from which you have to leave.
100% recommended also because you can select the “Seishun18” ticket type. In this way, it will just suggest trains where the ticket is valid.
Here is a simple guide that will give you some guidance on how to move around the site. I hope it can help you!
Select the orange button and your travel itinerary will be provided!
You will see that everything is written in Kanji, but do not be intimidated! With a little ‘patience and google translator by your side, everything can be resolved!
The Kanji of the “Station of departure” 東京 corresponds to Tokyo while that of the “Station of Arrival” 京都 indicates Kyoto. All the remaining black circles identify the “Change Stations”, that means all the stops you will have to get off and change trains. From Tokyo to Kyoto you have to make a total of 7 changes.
Circled in green you will find the name of the line to follow when you are in the station!
Let’s take a closer look at how to get around the station:
Circled in black you find the names of the first three stations. If you are not a master with Kanji, I advise you to translate the name of each station without leaving the respective Kanji (they can always be helpful).
Circled in yellow you find the departure and arrival time with the respective travel minutes. Circled in orange the number of the track from which your train will leave and circled in blue the track on which you will arrive at the next station.
Ex: in the example, the journey starts at 04.41 from platform 6 of Tokyo station and finish at 4:52 at platform 5 of Shinagawa station (11 minutes journey). In Shinagawa, you need to go to platform 11 from where you will get on the train that goes to Odawara. It will leave at 5:10 and will arrive at Odawara 6:21 (71 min journey) on track 3 or 4.
1) It may happen that the arrival track (whose Kanji is 番 線 着) is not marked on the file. Instead, you will only find the train departure track (marked with the Kanji 番 線 発).
2) In other cases, you will not find either the departure track or the arrival track. This is the case of very small stations in which there is only one line and a few trains pass. In order to know the track, My advice is to look at the departure time of your train and the name of the destination where you have to go (again I recommend to always have with you the names of your destinations in Kanji because in small stations everything is in Japanese, no English!).
3) In case of difficulty, print a copy of the itinerary and ask the head of the station for information! If he sees the itinerary written in Kanji it will be easier for him to give you an answer (personal experience).
That said, if you plan everything in advance, you will enjoy for sure a nice travel experience!
Ready to go ?!