Types of railroad / how to get on the train
Japan's railroads can by broadly classified into three types, "Subway running in city center," "Private railway running in local area," and "JR running nationwide." JR is divided into six areas, Hokkaido, East Japan, Tokai, West Japan, Shikoku, and Kyushu; depending on the area, the ticket office may be different depending on the route you want to ride, but the basics are the same. Depending on the country, I think that there are places that use the subway exclusively for the transportation in the city center, but in many cities in Japan, private railways and JR are also utilized as a very convenient means of transportation in the city. By the way, the indication "up" or "down" is used to mean "a train heading for Tokyo" or "a train leaving Tokyo." This is an old-fashioned expression, which is derived from "going up" meaning going to the city center.
To get on, you buy a ticket from a vending machine every time you board a ride, or use a transportation IC card. There are various names of transportation IC cards such as "Suica," "PASMO," and "ICOCA," for each railroad company, but if you have one of them, you can use almost all modes of transportation, such as many JR lines, private rail lines, subways, and buses, so it is convenient to have one. You will pay a deposit of 500 yen per card and pay the amount you want to charge at the station and automatic ticket vending machine, but if you return it at the time of returning, the deposit and the balance will be refunded.
In order to enter the station premises, automatic ticket gates are installed in most cases. In the case of a paper ticket, the gate opens when passing a ticket at the slot, then the ticket comes out and you receive it and enter the platform. In the case of an IC card, touch the reading port labeled "IC," after which the gate opens, so you will enter the platform. When passing through the automatic ticket gate in this way when leaving the station of the arrival destination, the paper ticket is collected there and the necessary charge is deducted from the IC card. In the case of long distance trains in Europe, for example, there are cases where you can leave the station without having a ticket at the destination, but in the case of Japan you must have a ticket when you exit the ticket gate. Please be careful not to lose it until you leave the station at the destination, because there are times when you may be suspected of an unauthorized ride if you do not have it.
The crowds of stations in Tokyo and Osaka are famous, and there are a number of implicit rules. First, when waiting for a train at the station, wait in a line at the designated area and get on when the train arrives after passengers get off the train. Acts such as cutting in from the side without being in a line, getting in at the moment the door opens, rushing in at the moment of closing and securing a seat before anyone else does are regarded as annoying actions. When sitting on the seat, consideration is given to actions such as not throwing out your foot and not keeping baggage to save seats, and sitting without opening a gap, so as not to avoid taking extra space to the extent possible. If one is standing close to the door, when the train stops, he or she acts naturally to get off and get on again so as not to block the door where people get off. Regarding baggage, rules are set up so that pets are put in a cage, and bicycles are folded and put in a special case, so that other passengers are not annoyed in a crowded car.
It is convenient to use express trains such as Shinkansen for long distance traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto and other cities. To get on these, you need a limited express ticket and a designated seat ticket in addition to the normal fare. In some countries, the fare may be less expensive by purchasing it earlier, but basically the railway in Japan is fixed whenever you purchase it. It is safe to purchase a designated seat ticket in advance in order to secure the seat surely, but if there is a vacancy, even if you purchase it on the day it will not be more expensive.
One of the important points of long-distance trains in Japan is that there is no special space for placing large baggage, except for trains from some international airports. In case of Shinkansen bullet train, there is a way such as putting baggage on the shelf above the seat, or putting in the space behind the seat at the back of the car. If you have trouble, please consult the crew.