Japanese Trains

All you need to know about Japanese Railway: Train Map, Schedule and Tickets booking
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Japanese Trains Information

Types of trains


Railway Length

​30 625 km/ 19 029 mi

Crossing Japan Journey

under 12 hours

The longest railway line

674.9 km/ 419.3 mi

What Makes the Japanese Train System so Efficient?

No one questions that the train system in Japan is among the very best. In the 21st century, this is just an axiom. Japan is a country of progress, success, and ambitions, and the railway system is one of their greatest achievements and a source of national pride.

​Seems more like a statistical miracle than a real fact, but 45 out of 51 busiest train stations on the planet are located in one small country. So how exactly did Japan railway manage to be so cut above the train systems of any other corner of the world?

The secret is very simple. Most of the countries went through the process of privatizing the railway, but Japan handled it much more efficiently.
While the common scheme was to just hand the highest bidder the ownership of trains and hope for the best, the Japanese government offered control over everything even remotely related to train travel: rails, stations, scheduling, even the signals! But this generous offer didn't come for free. The new patron of the Japanese railway can get it all, but in exchange, the new owner won't get any government funds. Seems risky - yes, but fair.

The Japanese railways were privatized in 1987, and it wasn't scattered companies that bought the right to handle different regions of the country as the system is in the UK even today. No, a lion's share of all railway traffic in the country is the responsibility of JR Group, an assembly of seven very similar companies tightly working together.
If something needs to be changed, the decision has to go through a much smaller number of management teams (all within a single company!) than anywhere else, and it saves a lot of time and money.

​By taking a leap of faith and deciding to swim against the current, Japan took a big risk, which turned out to be the best possible way they could have gone. As the result, all the power to make decisions turned out centralized in one big company that is profitably motivated to keep relentlessly improving their services!

Local Lines & High-Speed Railway in Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun boasts not only one of the most advanced train systems in the world but also one of the most extensive ones. The web of the railway lines covers the whole country, so it's hardly a surprise that rail travel in Japan is extremely popular among locals and tourists alike. Legendary Shinkansen and limited express trains both boast incredibly fast travel times, and short-distance trains allow traveling to even small remotely-located villages. What is more, the Japanese famously value punctuality above all, and Japan's trains are no exception. The average annual delay of a train is just 54 seconds, can you believe it?

Japanese Innovative Pointing-And-Calling System

Japanese train stations might seem absolutely chaotic. The crowds, the train departure signals, and the general atmosphere of high-alert might be overwhelming when you visit the station for the first time. Seeing all railway stuff constantly pointing all over the place and loudly speaking to no one in particular definitely doesn't help. But like everything else train-related in Japan, this strange practice is meant to increase employees' efficiency. The trick is that when there are multiple senses associated with each step, it significantly increases the workers' awareness even during the routine actions they repeat several times throughout the day, erasing the possibility of workplace mistake by 85%!

Train Travel in Japan is Budget Friendly

As the Japanese government was very generous during the privatization, JR Group ended up owning not just rail lines but also the nearby lands in case they will need to expand them one day. Well, the Japanese Railway decided to go another way and were relentlessly building on their grounds. Now, they own countless houses, restaurants, and office buildings, which brings a good profit.

​All the money earned that way get invested in improving the railway system. As you can see, the biggest train company in Japan doesn't load up funding the system solely to passengers, so the cost of train tickets is very reasonable.

Japanese Trains Map

Q&A: Japanese Trains

Most Traveled Japanese Train Lines