I stayed in Osaka Bay area and did a train ride to the city center. My plan was to visit Kuromon, Denden Town and Nipponbashi area. Our rental car was parked at the hotel thinking that it may be a lot of traffic and hard to get a car park in Osaka city center.
The hotel is called Osaka La’gent Hotel at Osaka Bay which offers good value, new and spacious and good breakfast, the bonus point is just next to the Universal Studio Japan. I usually prefer to stay away from the city area to enjoy the wider room and better value of the hotel. Having said that, the hotel is still very accessible via train. There is a JR train station called Sakurajima Station within 5 mins walk from the hotel.
There are few companies running the railway network in Japan
Taking a train in Japan can be complicated when you look at the countless lines on the map. But over here in Osaka is much lesser lines compare to Tokyo. The first thing you need to know is there are few companies run the railway network. My experience is with JR (Japan Rail -also the biggest) and Osaka Subway.
Purchase ticket from the machine
There are machines at the entrance of the train station for you to buy your ticket. The train station at Sakurajima Station is very small and the machines look super old, over 30 years I suspect. I could not find any staff who sell the ticket at the entrance but only ticketing machines. But don’t worry, you can press the language you are familiar and purchase your ticket. There are English, Japanese and Chinese language. I can’t remember if there is the Korean language to choose from.
Step to use the Ticketing Machine
1. Find your destination and the corresponding fare, you can refer to the map above the ticketing machine. There are ticket prices shown beside each station.
2. Choose how many tickets you want to purchase, the default is one.
3. Insert the money into the ticketing machine, it accepts coins and notes up to 10,000 yen (USD 90.30) notes.
4. Press the button to show the total amount
5. Collect your tickets and change.
What if I do not pay enough fares?
Do not worry if you do not pay enough fares as there is a fare adjustment machine before you exit your destination. Let’s say if your ticket won’t let you pass through the gate, go to the fare adjustment machine and put the ticket through the machine and pay the difference. You will be issuing a new ticket and use that to exit the gate.
This can be a dangerous place if it is in the peak hour in the city area. Sakurajima Station is a small station outside the city center, so there is minimal risk of falling down to the platform. In peak hour especially in the Tokyo area, there are staffs who will help to push the commuters inside the train. Yes, that crowded and you are packed like sardines in the cans. You won’t be able to raise your hand and read your phone, I can assure you that. I experienced that when I was in Tokyo commuting daily from Chiba to Shinjuku area for my Japanese language course.
Japanese are a considerate nation as they always think of others so the same goes when they ride on the train.
1. They do not speak loudly or talk on the mobile phone. Best is to keep quiet.
2. You see most people are either reading or looking at their mobile phone or sleeping.
3. Avoid eating and drinking unless it is a long journey train.
4. Put your bag between your legs or on the rack above you.
5. No smoking
6. Do not sit on priority seats unless you are one of them – mummy with small children or pregnant or senior citizen or disable person.
Changing from JR to Subway
Changing from JR to Subway can be confusing. You need to pass the exit ticket gates to get from one area to another. Once you get off the train, look up at the signs above you at the platform. It has some direction written both in Japanese and English.
Osaka has 9 subway lines and the main hub station is Namba station which connects with 3 lines – the Midosuji Line, the Sennichimae Line, and the Yotsubashi Line. Subway fare starts from 180 yen(USD 1.60) to 370 yen (USD 3.30)
At bigger Metro station, you find staff who speak English to assist you with buying the ticket. Anyway, it is pretty much the same as buying the ticket from JR ticketing machine.
One of the important train station in the heart of Osaka shopping district. If you are visiting Kuromon and Nipponbashi, you can get off from Namba station.
Train Station Shopping
Usually, there are shopping inside the train station complexes, it allows you to do some shopping while catching and transferring train. You also find standing noodle shops and bento set shop for the busy Japanese “salaryman” aka white collar office male workers. Women usually refer to “OL” aka office lady. Below is my favorite shop, the “Totoro shop”.
Worried of “Chikan”? – Use Women Only Cars
Japan subway have this pink area, women only car due to the problem of “chikan”, women get harassed by “hentai” /pervert on crowded train especially during rush hour. This is solely for women only.
Overall a good experience for me to try out Osaka train ride, not my first as I have been living in Tokyo and they have more complicated train lines. Do I like it? No, I don’t, too tiring navigating from one station to another. I still prefer driving my rental car to reach my destination. Is it advisable to drive in Osaka city area? Why not. I notice that there are not many cars in the city center and plenty of car parks near Kuromon, Nipponbashi and Denden Town or Namba area. The only downside is the parking fees may be slightly higher compared to the outskirts so do your homework and check out the rate for the car park.