I am asking because e.g. in Germany you can get tickets a lot cheaper, read 29€ instead of 130€, if you book them 3+ days in advance. And in general the earlier, the better. Also when traveling a lot, a one time investment to buy a "Bahncard" will give you discounts on further ticket purchases.

What procedures should I follow to get the cheapest inter city fast trains tickets in Japan?

I don't know what kind of trains there are in Japan, so "fast" for me would be any train that needs at most 150% of the time a Shinkansen would need. For example if Shinkansen needs 4 hours from A to B, then a connection taking 6 hours would be still considered "fast", but 8 hours would be not.

Of course this question includes the Shinkansen itself.

If it is relevant: I will be traveling from Osaka to Yokohama in the middle of September.

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    You looked into a JR pass, available for tourists outside of Japan? If you're taking the shinkansen it can make a huge difference for unlimited travel for say a week.
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 20, 2017 at 8:55
  • By "train", do you mean Shinkansen or are you willing to spend 10 hours in ordinary commuter trains?
    – fkraiem
    Aug 20, 2017 at 9:47
  • @MarkMayo: Will check it out. Aug 20, 2017 at 9:47
  • By the way, the question as it is is too broad, there are many discount options with various limitations. Narrowing it down to a single Osaka-Yokohama trip helps somewhat, but you should still clarify what exactly you are after.
    – fkraiem
    Aug 20, 2017 at 9:49
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    I think this question should stay open, it is not too broad in my view. The question is aimed at one country, with nation wide rail systems, even if there are a few systems running next to each other.
    – Willeke
    Aug 20, 2017 at 9:57

3 Answers 3


While these are mostly not an option for people just visiting Japan, there are a few ways to get cheaper shinkansen tickets. This answer probably belongs on expats, rather than travel; but, the first two options are mildly applicable to travelers.

1) Go to a discount shop. Several of these near Ueno, Shinjuku, and other hubs. They buy/sell tickets, but the discount is usually only 5-10%. If you luck out and the shop is stuck with a soon-to-expire ticket that meets your needs, you might be able to save around 20%.

2) Buy the JR "回数券", or ticket book. This has 6 tickets of the same route in a 3-month window, at a mild discount (again, only 5-10% I think). If you have three people, you can do a round trip with these six tickets. But, if you are doing a very long round-trip, the Japan Rail Pass will likely beat this deal.

You may be able to get by with no Japanese language for 1) and 2); but, for the next two options, you'll definitely need someone who can speak/read at a high level.

3) Yahoo Auctions. A slightly-less-expensive version of the discount shop, with a more limited supply, and longer lag time between purchase and ticket delivery.

4) The JR East online system (Eki Net) sells some shinkansen tickets for as much as 35% off the normal price. These are for trains with more stops at the smaller stations (and, sometimes they wait for the super-fast train to zip by). You need to register an account, and the page is only in Japanese. I think the other JR companies have a similar system, but I am only familiar with this one. To get the 35% ticket, you pretty much need to book it the morning it goes on sale (one month before the departure). Some smaller discounts are available up until 2 weeks before departure.

  • This belongs here, not on expats. ;) Domestic travel in the country you live in is on-topic here, and this would be off-topic on expats since it is not specific to expats (Japanese people like a discount too).
    – fkraiem
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:08

For a single trip on the Tokaido Shinkansen (between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo, which includes Shin-Yokohama), the cheapest option is almost certainly the Platt Kodama plan. Things to note:

  • The savings are not as big as what you mention in the question (such big discounts simply do not exist in Japan for single trips): instead of 13,810 yen, you pay 10,400.
  • You have to use one of the designated Kodama trains, which are the slowest category (the trip takes about three hours and a half).
  • Platt Kodama tickets cannot be purchased on the day of departure.
  • Contrary to what the English version of the website implies, you can purchase it at Shin-Osaka station. Just go to a JR Central (not JR West!) ticket office and say you want a Platt Kodama ticket; they will know what to do.
  • Using the Kodama may violate OP’s prerequisite of using a train no slower than ‘150 % of the Shinkansen journey time’ depending on how they meant it, since a Nozomi does the same distance in 130 minutes and 215 is larger than 195 …
    – Jan
    Aug 20, 2017 at 14:14
  • @Jan The Kodama is a Shinkansen.
    – fkraiem
    Aug 20, 2017 at 19:40
  • I know. I don’t know if OP was aware that Shinkansen can have journey times that different. (See also my comment on the question; when I wrote it, I wasn’t sure which one was the slowest so just used Hikari as an example.)
    – Jan
    Aug 21, 2017 at 1:55
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    @Jan OP was very probably not aware of it; this indicates insufficient research effort since this is a well-documented fact. I provided what I believe is the best possible answer to a very poorly asked question; though one may argue it would have been better to not answer at all
    – fkraiem
    Aug 21, 2017 at 1:59
  • Indeed, hence why I voted to close (as too broad) ;)
    – Jan
    Aug 21, 2017 at 2:18

While not terribly useful for the OP's case of going from Osaka to Yokohama only, in general the one way to get significantly discounted tickets is to purchase the Japan Rail Pass before arriving in Japan.

For a flat price of ¥29,110 for the 1-week pass, roughly equivalent to a single full-priced Tokyo-Osaka round trip, you can travel all you want on all JR trains throughout the country, including all Shinkansen (except the very fastest Nozomi service) and the Narita Express (N'EX). This extends even to local train services like the JR Yamanote line, although subways and private railways are not covered.

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