As we all know, the transportation in Japan is very expensive. Traveling from where I stay, Yamanashi to Tokyo, a bus ride takes about 2 hours, a single trip cost 2000 Yen and a reserved seat on the Express Train is even more expensive (4000 Yen for a single trip). A trip to Tokyo really takes a toll on my wallet.
For those who are travelling in Japan you can purchase a Kanton Pass. However this service is limited to tourist, while foreign students, workers and even the local Japanese can’t purchase this travelling deal. Most of us have to compromise on our trip due to the expensive transport fees.
How can we save on transport fees in Japan? Today, we are going to talk about coupon (かいすうけん).
Coupon is the travel ticket which you can purchase with a cheaper price. Take Yamanashi to Tokyo as an example, a single trip cost 2000 Yen, but you can purchase the coupon with 1800 Yen. Not forgetting about bus rides (or JR), if you want to save some money, there are always requirements to it, you might have to buy a few coupons, and they have limited usage periods.
To travel from Yamanashi to Tokyo, the minimum amount you have to purchase is 4 coupons, a total of 7200 Yen, and you have to use it within 3 months. If you have a group of 4 travelling, then it can be solved easily. However, if you are travelling alone, it is risky to buy the 4 coupons with a 3 month usage period. Here comes the advantage of coupon stores.
The coupon store in Kofu sells a coupon at 1950 Yen, which is 50 Yen cheaper than the normal ticket, but 150 Yen more expensive than the original coupon price. These 150 Yen is the profit of the coupon store. The 50 Yen might not seemlike a lot but when it comes to Express Trains, the coupon only cost 2875 Yen, it is a lot cheaper than the original price 4000 Yen.
Each coupon store has different pricing, the Express Train coupon in Kofu is selling at 2875 Yen, while in Shinjuku Nishiguchi, it is only selling for 2808 Yen.
Most of the coupons are free seating. It does not has a travelling time limit, but the seats are limited, if it is crowded, you might have to stand in the train for 2-3 hours. Most of the Japanese would purchase reserved seat coupon. It is slightly expensive than free seating coupon (but you will have a seat), however, you can take the coupon to the JR Shinkansen ticket office to ask for a specified seat, upgrade to reserved seat tickets without additional charges. The Tokyo to Yamanashi coupons pricing are as follows:
Reserved seat： 4060
Free Seating： 3606
If you buy the coupon from Shinjuku Nishigushi for 2808 Yen, and you have time to upgrade it to a reserved seat ticket at the ticket counter, you can save 1000 yen to eat a bowl of ramen! I think the formalities and time can help you save some money!
Shinjuku Nishigushi is the king of coupon stores, there is rows of coupon store next to the UNIQLO Store, if you have time, compare them with the other two stores before buying. This yellow store is very obvious.
Besides transport coupons, there are many other types of coupons too. It includes yoshinoya, sushi stores, and internet points and so on.
Coupon stores also offer another service, where they would buy the unused coupons from you. For example, if you have purchased 10 pieces of coupons and you know you will not finish it, you can sell it to the coupon store (travelling coupons, prepaid cards, stamps). I haven’t tried it before, but I have seen the Japanese negotiate with the storekeeper.
When you are here in Japan, don’t forget to check out the coupon vending machine and coupon store, you might find some treasure there.