Traveling by train through Japan
On our way to Hamamatsu we had some trouble finding the right train. The subway and trainlines work a little different they do in the west.
The best know trainline is the Shinkansen. This train can go 400 kilometres in an hour. It is also the most expensive way to travel across Japan. As we travelled from Yokohama to Hamamatsu we took this train, it was a very luxurious way to travel. You can book tickets via their website or via the counter at the train station. If you want to make a seat reservation on their website, the best thing you can do is book the tickets three days in advance or earlier. Three days before the departure date, they will remove the option to book with seat reservation. You also will find tickets with a discount. This is the reason why our ride to Hamamatsu was in first class. On the trainstation we used our QR-codes on our phones to get through a gate with a QR-code scanner. The gate printed out a ticket and we walked to the train. This only works when you bought the online ticket. After our arrival at the station we used the same QR-code on our phones to get out. It was also possible to print our the tickets at the departing trainstation. We could use the counter to do this or the machines. If we used this, we could not use the QR-code on our phones anymore.
For a lot of places, you can use a rechargeable card. We used the Pasmo card, but there are more available. This card costs 500,00 Yen (the money of upgrading the card isn’t included) and is available at some vending machines at the metro stations in Tokyo and probably a lot of other places as well. It can be used on a lot of metro stations and JR-Lines throughout Japan. Some small metro lines are using local cards. Like the metro line we used in Hamamatsu. We had to purchase single tickets. Also, some trains on a line are more luxurious and are not included in the normal fair and you will have to buy a ticket for it. If you get a Pasmo card with you name on it, you can even attach the ticket for the Shinkansen to it.
The JR-Lines are divided in three sections JR-Central, JR-West and JR-Kyushu. These trains are less expensive than the Shinkansen, but more expensive than the normal subways. We could enter these trains with a Pasmo card except for the Rapid Express, this train is a little more luxurious. These JR-Lines run through the whole country. Sometimes these trains were a better option for us than the Shinkansen, because of our budget.
The subway is the cheapest way the travel and almost every big city has one. Sometimes traveling with the subway is better than with the JR-lines. The rate is much lower and the traveling time is also not that much slower. The subways are divided in a curtain number of stations. That means that a subway train can stop halfway the line or go over into another line. With some lines we could reach our destination even when Google Maps did not show it.
Hamamatsu Castle is a small castle on a hill. There is a nice park around it where we relaxed for a few moments. Inside Hamamatsu Castle there is a small museum about the build of the castle and its surroundings. Sadly, the castle was under renovation and we could not enjoy the outside of the castle.
For more information about our trip in Japan, you can go to Japan Travel Destination » Tim and Ellen’s Blog (timellen.net)