Unmanned Stations and Trains

Traveling through rural Japan

"one man cars"

Sometimes, to see the natural beauty of Japan's flora, fauna, and rolling mountains, you may need to travel on small trains. "One man cars" (literally wanmanka in Japanese) are small trains, usually a hybrid between a street car and a very tiny regular train, with only a single conductor and one or two carriages. Occasionally, these rural trains do not have the clearest instructions. Here's a quick overview of unmanned stations and trains so that your journey into the countryside is smooth and straightforward.

before taking the train

These days, even the smallest train stations will have an automated ticket machine. For instructions on how to use these machines, please see our article!

entering the train

If the station has a ticket gate (sometimes it will not actually keep anyone in or out and will just be a place to insert a ticket), feed the ticket into the machine. If not, hold on to the ticket until you get to the train.

Enter the train for the rear doors; if there is a box to stamp a ticket, do so now.

exiting the train

When exiting, you will need to exit from the very front of the train (however, be sure to listen for any instructions announced in English). There are several possibilities: drop the ticket in a box inside the train as you are stepping off, or hand it to a ticket collector/drop it in a ticket box on the platform after exiting.
For an example on how to ride a "one man car," be sure to check out our video on visiting Kurama using the Eizan line train in Kyoto!

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