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  • English Signs at Train Stations

    What's it like travelling around Japan on the train, I was thinking mainly about if there are english signs at the stations or not?

  • #2
    Mainly in Tokyo, there are English signs, and in the train, there is electrical sign board, which can show you where you are now, which direction you are going to etc ,by English. But I am not sure about country side.
    You can get English subway map and JR map from Narita Airport and Main station. I think it helps you a lot.
    In addition, Japanese people are friendly and helpful, so you can ask them anytime.

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    • #3
      I have found that along the Shinkansen train routes there are plenty of English signs, it's very easy to get around. However if you start to take local trains, there's a good chance that there is no English at all, the train station names are in Japanese Hiragana so its a good idea to learn this alphabet (around 46 basic characters) if you think you will be travelling on local trains, plus it is also very useful for other situations.

      I can assure you its not much fun especially when your hiragana skill is a bit low, trying to catch the hiragana station names whizzing past in the evening light, and you don't know which one is your station

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      • #4
        In my personal experience, I find train stations have directions with English signs almost everywhere, especially in Tokyo. Additionally, in trains, they have some displays showing the directions in English (as well in Japanese).

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        Every train station has information center and the responsible person, at the information center, makes sure to provide you sufficient information with directions and maps (in English). This trend can also be seen at outskirt of Tokyo, especially near the tourist place. Additionally, Japanese people are friendly enough to help you.

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        • #5
          There are still stations on local train routes in rural Japan that only have those vertical hiragana signs, I remember a couple of years ago on the local line through Tokoname all the small stations had only those hiragana signs. I guess eventually they will all be replaced with English/Japanese signs.

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          • #6
            I agree. Big, main stations that are popular with tourists usually have English signs. However, the more rural you get, the less I would expect to see them. I would plan ahead and find the names of the stations in Japanese so you can write them down for reference.
            I agree that Japanese people are friendly, and my friend has had a good experience in a train station when she needed directions. However, not all Japanese people are confident speaking English, so they may be reluctant to help, especially if it's not part of their job.
            If you have a smartphone, keep it close and you can use it to translate some things!

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