Private train lines in Japan   日本の私鉄

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The entrance to Meitetsu Nagoya station

Travel in Japan with ease

In Japan, several railway companies operate the various rail networks. The main company, Japan Railways (JR), covers the vast majority of Japan, but there are also private companies serving some tourist areas.

In Japan, several railway companies operate the rail networks. The main company Japan Railways (JR) covers the vast majority of the territory and is well known for its special tourist pass offering 7, 14, or 21 days of unlimited travel: the Japan Rail Pass. For 30 years it has been divided into 6 departments: JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Hokkaido, JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku.

But there are also private companies in some regions that serve tourist areas, and whose services often go beyond mere rail transport. They often operate the local bus network, one or more hotels, and even the area's main attractions.

Private lines by region

In Tokyo, a network of subway lines and several railway companies make up the JR network. For example, Seibu Railroads connect Tokyo to Saitama Prefecture to explore Chichibu, and Tobu will take you from the Tokyo Skytree to Chiba and Gunma Prefectures. Finally, the Keikyu and Odakyu trains connect Tokyo to Yokohama, Kamakura, Enoshima and Hakone.

In Nagoya, the Meitetsu Railway Company connects Nagoya Station with Chubu International Airport. The Kintetsu and Keihan companies have networks in Kansai, including the Kyoto-Osaka route. Kintetsu trains also run from Nagoya to Ise, where you can go on to explore Nara or Wakayama Prefecture.

Osaka and Kobe are connected by local Hanshin and Hankyu companies, and there are many convoys of this company running in Japan.

A train on the Fujikyu Line, which runs to Mount Fuji

Private tourist routes in the west of the country

So to get to the Five Lakes Region and Mount Fuji, travellers must leave the JR network at Otsuki station and complete the trip with the Fujikyu Railway company. The company also operates a direct line from Shinjuku to Mount Fuji's fifth station, the Kawaguchi Lake cable car, the local bus network, and local attractions such as Fuji-Q Amusement Park.

Not far from there, in Hakone, the Odakyu company dominates the region. They offer services that go beyond just the train connections between Tokyo, Hakone-Yumoto, Kamakura and Enoshima. Want to book a hotel? The establishments run by the group are listed on their website, as well as on the main tourist sites.

Read: The Hakone Free Pass

To access Mount Koya in Wakayama, you'll take the Namba-Gokurakubashi Line run by the Nankai Company before taking a cable car up the mountain. In the case of Nara or Nikko, two lines exist for each destination: the JR line and the Kintetsu line for Nara, and the JR line and the Tobu line for Nikko. Finally, Kintetsu runs to Ise by direct trains from Kyoto, Osaka or Nagoya.

Inside a train on the Tobu-Nikko line

In train stations

In major railway stations in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, private companies often have reserved spaces in the same building as JR trains. In some smaller cities, such as Nara and Nikko, each company's trains serve their own stations.

The train schedules provided by the website take into account all the possible journeys by any train company.

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