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I'm going to pick an item up from someone in Tokyo. Problem is, it's about an hour away and therefore the journey is quite expensive. So he's agreed to meet me at his station on the platform so I don't need to 'tap out'. This is on the JR Chuo-Sobu line. How much does it cost for me to tap back out at my entrance station (I know it's not free, but I have no idea what to search online to find this information).

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    People wish to do this often enough in the SF Bay Area that there is indeed a fare for a round-trip where you don't exit the gate at the far side. It's called the Excursion Fare. Three hours maximum, currently $5.55. That's about 2.5 times the lowest possible one-way fare, but significantly less than the longest one-way fare. I think investigating whether Tokyo has a similar fare is more productive than suggesting the OP is attempting to evade the fare entirely. (I wish I could -1 a comment.) – Andrew Lazarus Oct 25 '15 at 5:12
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    There is no such fare in Tokyo. Agree with fkraiem's -1 ... Might as well suggest to the OP to buy the children's version of the platform ticket at half-price the adult fare. – Kent Oct 25 '15 at 11:37
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    While it may seem 'dodgy', it's perfectly legal in many other countries which is why I asked if it is possible in Japan as well. The platform ticket says it is. Either way, best method I've found so far (as I do not want to leave the station on the other end, hence I don't want to pay a round long trip price) is to return to one stop before my departure station and exit there - 1 stop 1 way price. – Keir Simmons Oct 27 '15 at 15:29
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    @KeirSimmons As someone who takes some variation of Japanese trains daily (Tokyo Metro, JR, Tokaido Shinkansen, Kobe Metro Railway to name a few in the last week), I can tell you that it all depends on how you approach it. I have had to go from my home station all the way to the end of the line to retrieve lost property and the office was outside of the gates. Explaining this to the Station Staff usually gets you through the gate without tapping off / using your ticket. Returning to your station and explaining the situation to the guard there, usually results in negation of your trip cost. – The Wandering Coder Dec 12 '16 at 9:34
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    cont... However in this case as you are not retrieving something from the train company themselves, when tapping out at your origin station, the gates will automatically block you from leaving. When you present yourself to the guard they will ask what your situation is. Depending on what you tell them (however honest / dishonest it is) is in most cases, what they will deduct from your card before letting you go. – The Wandering Coder Dec 12 '16 at 9:39
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It should go without saying, but since some people seem unclear on the concept, I state explicitly that riding a train without paying the correct fare is not just "dodgy" or any other euphemism you can think of, but a violation of the Article 29 of the Railway Act (not to be confused with the Railway Business Act) and also constitutes fraud under Article 246 of the Penal Code.


That being established, what is the correct fare when you enter and leave from the same station? It depends on the actual departure/arrival station and route you take, so it is impossible to answer the question without knowing them (but it can certainly not legally be done with just an entrance ticket)

Now, the general principle is that the fare is to cover the costs of you riding the train, not of you passing through the ticket gates, and so whenever you ride a train, you must pay the corresponding fare, regardless of whether you exit the gates. Note for example that "station entrance tickets" very explicitly state that you may not ride a train*.

旅客運賃・料金は、旅客の実際乗車する経路及び発着の順序によつて計算する。

The fare is calculated based on the route actually traveled by the customer, as well as the order of departure and arrival. (link)

However, the usual exceptions apply, including the one that says that if your route is contained entirely within one of five "large city" zones, then regardless of the route written on your ticket, you can use any other route that you want between the same departure and arrival points. In practice, this means that you can buy a ticket for the cheapest possible route, and actually use any other one that you want.

Example 1: suppose I want to make one round of the Yamanote line starting and ending at Tokyo station. A possible route from Tokyo to Tokyo is via Kinshicho and Akihabara, so I can buy** a Tokyo-Kinshicho-Akihabara-Tokyo ticket and make my Yamanote circle trip, no problem.

This is further complicated by the fact that not every route is a route, so to speak. In particular, for ticketing purposes a route may not contain any loops or duplicated sections, and in your case you may well have at least one of those, since you want to go to some particular station and back.

Example 2 (loop): Suppose I want to do Kinshicho-Ochanomizu-Kanda-Ueno. Because this has a loop (Akihabara-Ochanomizu-Kanda-Akihabara), the correct fare for this trip is Kinshicho-Akihabara plus Akihabara-Ueno and not just Kinshicho-Ueno. In general, when you complete a loop, your trip is automatically "cut" into two separate trips at the last station of the loop.

Example 3 (duplicate section): Suppose I want to go from Tokyo to Atami and back. Because this will require duplicating the section between Atami and Chigasaki, I must pay both Tokyo-Atami and Atami-Tokyo. In general, when you "backtrack" at a station, your trip is automatically "cut" into two separate trips at that station.

Example 4: However, I can go from Tokyo to Chigasaki and back with my Tokyo-Kinshicho-Akihabara-Tokyo ticket, because it can be done without any loop or duplicate section: I can go from Tokyo to Chigasaki via Shinagawa and Yokohama, and then back via Hachioji, Shinjuku, and Akihabara.

Note that all those examples are if you do not exit the ticket gates, as per OP. As I have mentioned elsewhere, tickets for travel within the five large city zones do not allow exiting the ticket gates before your arrival point (stopovers).


* Now, like many other things that are in principle not allowed, you may or may not be able to talk an agent into letting you get away with it, possibly by feigning ignorance (especially if you are a foreigner). Personally, I find this practice abhorrent.

** A ticket with the same departure and arrival points can be purchased at ticket offices only. Not at ticket machines, online, or via an IC card.

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    @KeirSimmons Again, this is fare escape and unequivocally illegal; flagged as such. – fkraiem Dec 12 '16 at 6:19
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    No it's not. Put yourself in the shoes of a completely unsuspecting mother (as a random example) taking her kid to eat at Tokyo station. There are many restaurants there which are within the barriers. After eating she decides to hop back on a train en-route to DisneySea. She stopped off at Tokyo but never tapped out - it wasn't part of her journey to. This sort of thing is quite common with the number of shops/ restaurants within ticket barriers. Do you expect the mother to tap out of tokyo station, and then tap back in to continue with her journey? Of course not. It's rather a flawed system. – Keir Simmons Dec 12 '16 at 8:05
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    @TheWanderingCoder Possibly a bad example then. I'll return to the unsuspecting mother boarding a Chuo train from Koenji, taking her kid to Tokyo station to eat, and then going back on a Chuo to Nakano to take her kid to Nakano Broadway. In essence, they've only gone from Koenji to Nakano (1 stop) and never tapped out in Tokyo. Is it her job to go out of her way to tap out at Tokyo and back in to eat, or is it JR's to police the possibility? For example in London we have Oyster tapping points within barriers to tell the system of the specific route you're taking without exiting the barriers. – Keir Simmons Mar 2 '17 at 3:35
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    @KeirSimmons Technically it is her job to tap out at Tokyo and according to "apparent" customs the honest citizen will do this (in practice I would argue this doesn't happen). Further, if noticed (extremely unlikely chance) JR can and will confront someone. Although fines can be issued, the normal reprimand is a stern talking to. Getting back to your question, when attempting to exit the barrier, the ticket gates will stop you from leaving as you will have an invalid fare (you can not enter and exit from the same station unless you have an unlimited travel pass). – The Wandering Coder Mar 2 '17 at 4:34
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    ...You will have to go and speak to the ticket gate employee who will usually ask where you have been and charge you to and from that station. Obviously if you lie there is no way of telling what happened short of calling the station you claim to have gone to and checking surveillance, however they do take time taken (your entry time is printed on your ticket / stored on your IC card) and if it doesn't roughly match up, they will usually phone your apparent arrival station to confirm your story - and they do do that). – The Wandering Coder Mar 2 '17 at 4:34
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First up, this is a bit dodgy and I'd suggest perhaps just paying the fare...

As for the technicalities - you won't be able to tap out with Suica at the same station on JR, you'd need to go to the attendant and ask them to do it manually. If it's 2 hours after you tapped in, they may ask questions.

You can buy paper 'platform tickets' to see off people at some stations without traveling, and as there aren't conductors on trains you could get away with this also.

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    This is not "dodgy", it's fare escape and probably illegal. – fkraiem Oct 25 '15 at 4:17
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    How is it up there on your lofty steed? – codinghands Oct 25 '15 at 8:00
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    Not great because I'm among those given a bad name by tourists breaking all kinds of rules. – fkraiem Oct 25 '15 at 8:40
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    Note that JR platform tickets are generally valid for two hours. – jpatokal Oct 25 '15 at 9:52
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    With my pasmo 定期券 (commuter pass), I am able to go in/out of stations along the route freely; even exiting the same station. I don't know if this is pasmo-specific, railway specific (I ride a smaller line, not JR) or if all passes operate similarly. Of course, using a pass to travel in the other direction and back could result in the confiscation of the pass; whereas if you're caught using the platform ticket the penalty is likely limited to some small multiple of the normal fare. – Kent Oct 26 '15 at 2:30
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A platform ticket is called a 入場券 (nyuujooken), it allows you to enter the platform area to see people off.

Suica unfortunately cannot be used as a platform ticket. If you try to tap out at the same station, it won't let you.

Platform tickets can be bought at the paper ticket vending machines -- and you can use your Suica to buy paper tickets. They are ¥140 for most of Japan (see https://www.jreast.co.jp/kippu/18.html).

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    However, departing the station with a platform ticket is technically not allowed. In practice, of course, there's no enforcement as long as you stay within the ticket gates, since (local) Japanese trains do not have inspectors. – jpatokal Oct 25 '15 at 9:52
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    If the OP is outside of Tokyo at a smaller station, it might be very hard to convince the station master that over two hours were spent at the home station when exiting. But FWIW, if the two hour limit is surpassed they can sell you a separate platform ticket for every two hours. – Kent Oct 25 '15 at 11:31
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    Did it several times on Chuo line in Tokyo (Higashi-Nakano St.) - the procedure was to buy the cheapest ticket, give it to man-at-the-gate who stamped the ticket, and leave also through a manned gate. I guess the 入場券 would be specifically sold in areas where the fare to the nearest station exceeds the amount specified on the linked page. There is no such need in Tokyo or Osaka where stations are densely packed. The other time I had to return to my company just after entering Tokyo Metro. Also no problem at the manned gate, got Suica charged for the cheapest fare (160 yen at the time). – macraf Oct 26 '15 at 15:20
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First of all, this is not dodgy.

It is legally fine to ride a train without paying anywhere you want unless you exit the station or ride in reserved cars.

All you need is to visit the guy in the window near the gates when exiting and explain that you did not exit the station on the other end. They will remove the 入場券 price (about 140 yen) from your Suica/Pasmo and that's it. You do nothing illegal, so even if they ask why did it take 2 hours, you could kindly explain.

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    You only pay at the moment you check out of the train system. If you check in and check out at the same section within the same day you only pay 入場券. It does not matter where you travel. I am not sure what sources are possible here. If you are trying to press on the moral side of this action I would say that riding somewhere without checking out is pretty useless thing in most cases, so there is very little incentive to abuse this for anyone. And that's why no one really cares. – Rilakkuma Dec 11 '16 at 15:18
  • I link to a website where the railway company states that you only need to pay for entrance and exit would be a good start. I have never seen one of those, I have seen plenty websites stating that you pay for the distance traveled. (But I have never tried to look for any Japanese ones.) – Willeke Dec 11 '16 at 15:28
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    @rilakkuma I frequently ride to Tokyo for some ramen within the barriers and then return home. I guess you could say this is abusing the system, but I guess that's down to one's moral compass. – Keir Simmons Dec 12 '16 at 6:10

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