Vocabulary: At the Train Station

One of the scariest things to do when you are in a foreign country is using public transportation. It even happens to me in the city I grew up and using my native language. . .   Trains are pretty much what you are going to be taking to move around in Japan, and therefore, recognising signs around stations or on trains can really help you out. Taking into account that there are more than 10.000 kanji out there, chances are you are going to need help to know which direction to take. I found these few essential kanji that will help you make your way around the station and get in the right train right away!


E X I T S (*often written in English)

入り口いりぐち ー Entrance

出口でぐち ー Exit

北口きたぐち ー North Exit

東口ひがしぐち ー East Exit

南口みなみぐち ー South Exit

西口にしぐち ー West Exit

T Y P E S  O F  T R A I N

きゅうこう ー Express Train

準特急じゅんとっきゅう ー Semi-special Express

特急とっきゅう ー Special Express

快速かいそく ー Rapid

普通列車ふつうれっしゃ ー Local Train


You won’t be getting anywhere without a ticket, so look for these to guide you:

窓口まどぐち ー Service Window

切符きっぷ ー Ticket

改札口かいさつぐち ー Ticket Gate

If you’re using a Suica or Passmo, then look for the machines marked チャージ (chāgi/charge) to top up your balance. And if the cost to your destination is more than the ticket you bought or the balance on your card, you’ll need to head to…

精算せいさん ー Fare Adjustment

T R A I N  S E R V I C E S

For some train services, such as the Narita Express (airport service) or Shinkansen (bullet train) services, you will have the choice of reserved or non-reserved seating. Knowing the kanji will help you board the train at the right place and save you an awkward trip stumbling through the aisles after the train has set off.

指定席していせき ー Reserved Seat

自由席じゆうせき ー Non-reserved Seat


Keep an eye out for priority seats and women only cars. Although the pictures that usually accompany the signs are self-explanatory, being extra knowledgeable can’t hurt.

女性専用車じょせいせんようしゃ ー Women-only Car

優先席ゆうせんせき ー Priority Seat

Plus knowing the kanji for woman/women (女) is a good way to ensure that you visit the correct toilet…


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