Something we’ve noticed from running our site Tokyo Cheapo is that there’s not enough info out there about how to do rail in Japan.
The reason so many people have been coming to our site to research and to get information is simply because the Japan rail system is so difficult to understand. To give you an idea of the complexity, in Japan there is not one national rail company - there are 6! While they all have JR at the start, JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Tokai, JR West, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu all operate independently except for services that run between their zones of control which require complex revenue and cost sharing. Another case in point is the Tokyo Metropolis. If you arrive at Narita Airport, you have the choice of a either a JR train or a private railway train to get you into the the city. From there, you can jump onto one of two subway systems. If you need to go into the suburbs, you can catch one of seven different private rail companies - most with multiple lines!
Despite this complexity, it need not be so difficult for international visitors to understand. One of the main reasons it is, is due to the siloed nature of these companies - each puts out information about its own services.
The answer is to provide a simplified portal with the information that visitors need to know along with methods for them to purchase what they need. To this end, we’ve launched a new site in our portfolio - Japan Rail Tickets. Unlike the official sites, our focus will be on the user experience - focused, easy to digest information in an easily explored format.
If you’d like to work together with us on Japan Rail Tickets, please get in touch.