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Friday, July 20, 2012

How To Buy A Subway Ticket In Japan

The following photographs blew my freaking mind.

I was watching the television show Departures on July 18, 2012, in which two young men from Toronto travel around the world - in this case, they visited Japan. Hence my interest in it. Go figure.

As the blog title suggests, the photo presentation below will show you how a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan can buy a subway ticket in Japan - oft times a confusing endeavor as there are many train lines, and you purchase your ticket based on the distance traveled from your point of entry to your destination.

In the photo above, our heroes are confused by the amount of money they need to spend to buy a ticket from an automatic ticket vending machine. Confused, they decide to hit the 'help' button which should bring a subway employee to help them sort it out.

If you follow the photographs (in order) that I snapped on my television, you'll see how to purchase the correct ticket for your journey on the subway lines of Japan.  Confusion reigns in Photo #1 up above. Down below, the solution:

You rang? Holy crap! A foreigner!
You put your money in here, says the man in the machine.
Let me direct you to our easy-to-use subway map.
It will cost you ¥260 (US/Cdn $3.35), says the legless man in the machine.
Thank-you for interrupting my day, stupid foreigner. I must get back in my box.
Back in his box, the subway employee knows Japan rules in efficiency.
And there you have it. Press the button and ask for help.No need to waste time asking a fellow passenger in the subway to help you. Japan's subway's have a person waiting in the ticket machine - waiting for months and months - for the privilege of helping you.

Makes you wonder if there's a guy in every ticket machine, as there are quite a few of them in the larger subway stations.

Also makes you wonder where they go to the washroom. And what do they do for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of their shift. Is this a part of Japan's limited living spaces? Do you tip him (no - you don't tip anyone in Japan, except to tell him he needs a better job)? 

Still... the boys got their subway ticket, so the system works.

Happy riding!
Andrew Joseph


  1. The human touch is greatly appreciated at the kiosks (thank the stars for "overemployment" but seriously, if there is the chance that a human is not there, most often there is a button that says "ENGLISH" and voila! The instructions/screens switch from Japanese to English. And on top of that, to begin with, the machines are laid out and designed to process a ticket purchase in a very easy-to-use, logical manner.

    1. I didn't know about the 'human touch' - any idea how long kiosks have had a person inside?
      As for the actual buying thing - agreed... if I could do it, anyone should.
      Look for your destination on the map, the price is beside it. Buy a ticket for that price. Voila!
      But how long has that poor man been sitting in that kiosk? Was it bequeathed to him?

  2. Now they just need a man inside those Loppi kiosks at Lawson. I spent nearly an hour trying to buy concert tickets yesterday.

    1. Funny! Sad, but true, I'm sure! Hope you got your concert tickets, though!

  3. Wonderful. Thanks for the visual. My daughter tried to explain the man in the machine, I just couldn't get it