How to exchange your train tickets in Japan ?

  • Published on : 05/03/2024
  • by : Charley Zaragoza

In this article, we’ll detail where and how to exchange the QR code associated with your booking into physical train tickets in Japan - as the country didn’t yet take the leap to digital train tickets, paper tickets are unavoidable in Japan. 

Your train tickets in Japan in 4 easy steps

Find the exchange machines

Click to see how to identify where to exchange your QR code

Exchange your train tickets

Click to find a step-by-step detail of the exchange process

Read your train tickets

Click to find out what information is listed on your train tickets

Use your train tickets

Click for explanations on how to use your train tickets

Identifying the JR machines at stations

So you have received your QR code, are in Japan and are now looking to exchange your train tickets

Simply head to reserved seat JR ticket machines in stations, and scan your QR code to receive your paper train tickets! 

In Tokyo, look for JR East machines handling Shinkansen tickets, with the logo shown here (Midori-no-Madoguchi), also seen in the cover picture of this article. In stations, many signs will indicate this logo. Follow them and you'll be sure to find the right machines. In Kyoto and Osaka, look for the e5489 logo (shown here) on the JR West machines. The said machines also need to have a QR code reader. 

Do NOT try to exchange your train tickets at prepaid IC cards machines or fare adjustment machines. 

Read more below to find out how to identify machines in stations.

midori no madoguchi logo machine
midori no madoguchi logo sign station
e5489 jr logo online reservation

More information on how to find the right machines!

Exchanging your tickets outside of Tokyo

Regarding machines in stations, you need to head to JR East & JR West reserved seat ticket machines (green machines) in cities all across Japan. Ideally, different machines should be used for different routes, but you can still use any of these two types to exchange tickets for all our available routes. These machines can be found in any JR stations, not only main train stations, especially in Tokyo (read more below). 

  • JR East machines are best for trips departing or arriving into the Kanto region of Japan (Tokyo region)
  • JR West machines are best for trips departing or arriving into the Kansai region of Japan (Kyoto/Osaka region)

Please note that you should avoid JR Central machines (orange) as they are more restrictive and allow pickup for routes going through Central Japan - except if you are exchanging your train tickets in Nagoya, where only JR Central machines can be used.

jr east train ticket machine exchange shinkansen example

JR East machines with the Shinkansen logo and a QR code reader

jr west machine train tickets exchange

JR West machine with the e5489 logo and a QR code reader

jr central ticket exchange machine tokyo

JR Central ticket machine (orange background)

Our video guide to exchange your train tickets:

jr train ticket exchange japan qr code

jr central machine train ticket exchange qr code scan

jr central machine train ticket exchange qr code

jr central machine train ticket exchange phone number

jr central machine train ticket exchange phone number japan experience

jr central machine train ticket exchange issue tickets

train ticket modification process 1

train ticket modification process 2

train ticket modification process 3

train ticket modification process 4

train ticket modification process 11

train ticket modification process 5

train ticket modification process 6

train ticket modification process 7

train ticket modification process 8

train ticket modification process 9

train ticket modification process 10

However, on the express fare ticket where you will find the reserved trains info, there is information about the specific train being ridden, the departure time, estimated arrival time, and seat information

Seat information is specified by car number (i.e., CAR. 14) and then seat number (i.e., 2-E). The number correlates with the aisle number, and then the letter designates which seat the reserved ticket is for (aisle, middle, window). All of this information is clearly labeled inside the train car

train ticket in japan legend explanation

At the ticket gate, simply insert your tickets into the designated slot. For those with a reserved ticket, insert both the reserved ticket and fare ticket at the same time. The same tickets will be redistributed on the other side of the gate. Ticket holders will need to retake this ticket once it has been redistributed in order to fully pass through the gates.

Reserved seat tickets will have the name of the specific train that will be ridden. Sign boards inside the station will indicate from which platform the train will depart. On the station platform, car numbers will be displayed to aid in the boarding process. It is common to queue at these designated areas while waiting for the train to arrive or open for boarding. 

Upon leaving the arrival station, ticket holders will undergo a similar procedure, where tickets will be inserted into the slot at the gates, however, this time, tickets will not be redistributed for users to recollect. Proceed through the gates as normal. 

ticket gates train tickets japan new
japan train ticket exchange map

English translation of help message

-Dear JR staff

This customer wishes to redeem a QR Code voucher issued by an e5489 corporate agency account at a JR East or JR West ticket vending machine.

Please direct them to the ticket vending machine in the JR station (cannot be redeemed at the Shinkansen - local line transfer entrance).

 

-Dear Tokyo Metro, Odakyu and other private railways staff

This customer wishes to board a Shinkansen or JR Express train.

Can you please direct him to the reserved seat ticket machine at the JR station?

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