Anyone in Tokyo can tell you transportation is expensive. The trains follow their schedule to the minute, are nicely climate controlled, run smoothly, and are almost always quicker than travelling by car. Unfortunately , these comforts come with a monetary cost.

However, there is a way to pay less for each train ticket: get off the train at certain key points along your route. Don’t worry, this is perfectly legal, I stumbled upon this phenomenon last month while commuting to work.

Let me explain: Every Sunday, I ride the train to MusashiSakai (where I live) to Nakano, to teach two lessons. Then, I hop on the train to Tokyo station, teach two lessons, and take the train home to MusashiSakai.

Suggested Activity
Tokyo Night Foodie Tour in Shinjuku
Taste Tokyo's "must-eat" foods — omakase sushi and wagyu beef yakiniku, in Shinjuku. Offered by MagicalTrip, a top tour operator in Japan with 5000 TripAdvisor reviews.

You don’t need to know about my commute, I’m telling you to make a point. My ticket price was cheaper overall if I stopped in Nakano (to teach a lesson) before going to Tokyo Station.

Here is visual proof:

MusashiSakai to Nakano: 210 yen

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

 

Nakano to Tokyo Station: 210 yen

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

MusashiSakai to Tokyo Station: 450 yen

Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Each trip uses the same JR Chuo Line, on the same tracks, at the same time frame.

For some reason it is cheaper (by 30 yen) to get off the train half-way through my commute, swipe out of the gate, turn around and swipe back in, and re-board the train. When I do this, I am always able to board the next train right away, so I only lose five minutes time – less if it is during rush hour and trains run more often.

For a round-trip ticket, I save 60 yen. That alone is not much, but when it is a regular commute, the savings add up. Let’s say I commute to Tokyo Station three times a week (which, to be fair, sometimes happens). That means I save 180 yen.

This method doesn’t save a lot of money; it’s only a little loophole. However, it’s a perfectly legal loophole, and here at Cheapo, we believe that every yen counts. Honestly, I don’t quite understand how or why it works, but it does. If you find yourself making a weekly, or otherwise regular, commute, use GoogleMaps to try to figure out the optimal place to get off the train.

Suggested Activity
Get Tickets To the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku [11% OFF]
Experience one of the craziest, most colorful places in Tokyo — the all-new Samurai Restaurant, from the creators of the Robot Restaurant. Get your tickets and sit back for a wild show of lasers, lights, samurai, dancers and other uniquely Japanese weirdness. ...
Photo by Grace Buchele Mineta

Now, even if I don’t have a lesson in Nakano, I make a quick stop, swipe out of the gate, swipe back in, and get on the next train to Tokyo.

Take a closer look at your commute. Play around on GoogleMaps. There might be an easy way to save a bit of yen with each trip.

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next