Most public transportation discounts are only available if you’re a tourist without a visa or buying a multiple trip ticket/commuter pass. This can be a bit of a bummer if you’re a resident and would just like to save a little money on a one-time trip out somewhere. Luckily ticket shops have the perfect answer, in the form of discount ticket vending machines. 🙂
Recently an ABC Ticket opened up shop on both sides of the station nearest me, and my friends and I used their discount pass to save more than 1,500 yen ($15 USD) per person on our round trip shinkansen tickets to Kyoto. It was like getting comped a free meal for traveling. 😉
You can recognize these kinds of shops from the ticket vending machine out front. These vending machines sell same day tickets to a variety of locations. Some of them even sell discounted passes to popular attractions like Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea. If you’re like me and like to go ahead and buy your tickets in advance, just go inside and give the person at the window your travel dates. Sometimes discount tickets are unavailable during high traffic periods like during the New Year holidays.
So how do these shops work? Basically they buy passes and tickets to a number of popular destinations in bulk from JR and other companies or attractions, and pass along part of the savings to you, the customer. There are a few caveats, though. One is that discount tickets are usually for unreserved seats only, so if you’re looking for reserved or green car seats you might be out of luck. Another is that most shops only accept payment in cash.
Ticket shops are often located in bigger cities, outside or near train stations. Before, the nearest station with a ticket shop was an hour commute each way. Needless to say my wallet is a lot happier now that these two shops have opened up”