Kintetsu

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Kintetsu (近鉄), officially known as Kinki Japan Railway (近畿日本鉄道 kinki nippon tetsudō) is the largest railway in Mie Prefecture and also happens to be the largest private railway in Japan. Connecting Osaka and Nagoya, it is the only private Japanese railway that serves more than one of Japan's major metropolitan areas.

With Kintetsu, one can easily go between the beaches and shrines of eastern Mie, the Daibutsu in Nara, the castle in Nagoya, the food in Osaka, the heritage in Kyoto, the modern charm of Kobe, as well as see various people and friends around not just Mie but the entire Kansai region. As an "inaka prefecture", we are truly lucky in (much of) Mie to have such a service available to us.

Train Types

The single-most important thing to know about the types of trains Kintetsu offers is to not confuse the terms "express" (a standard train) and "limited express" (a special train requiring an extra fee).

A Kintetsu local train (blue sign)

Standard Trains

For all of these trains, the price to your destination will be exactly as written on the giant price board you see when at a ticket machine -- there are no extra fees. One of the easiest way to differentiate between the different types of standard trains is sign color

  •  Local  (普通 futsū)
    Has a blue sign.
    Local trains are the plainest and most easy-to-understand train there is -- it stops at every stop. This makes it rather slow compared to other trains. Very early in the morning and very late in the evenings, locals are often the only types of trains running however they are faster at these times to the days because despite having to stop at every station they don't have to pull over and wait for passing expresses and limited expresses which have all finished their runs for the day. Locals are usually two or three cars long.
  •  Semi-Express  (準急 junkyū)
    Has a green sign.
    Semi-express trains are only available on the parts of the Kintetsu line that are closest to Nagoya and Osaka. At its core, the semi-express is basically halfway between a local and an express, not stopping at every station but stopping at more stations than the express does. However, the Nagoya-area semi-express trains are in fact very much like locals in that they stop at every stop within Mie, it is not until they get into Aichi Prefecture and closer to Nagoya Station that they begin skipping stops. The Nagoya-area semi-expresses run only as far as Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station and the Osaka-area semi expresses run only as far as Nabari Station. Semi-expresses are usually two or three cars long.
A Kintetsu express train (orange sign)
  •  Express  (急行 kyūkō)
    Has an orange sign.
    Express trains (kyūkō) are your friend. They take you where you want to for the same amount of money as a local. Other than the Kintetsu section between Toba and Kashikojima, express trains run everywhere that locals do and tend to run just as frequently as well so if you are traveling between cities in Mie these will get to your destination faster in the vast majority of cases. These trains are especially convenient if you live at an express stop and your destination is also an express stop. Expresses are usually six cars long, but tend to be only four cars earlier in the morning and later in the evening -- despite being longer, they tend to be far more crowded than locals though so be prepared to stand.
  •  Rapid Express  (快速急行 kaisoku-kyūkō)
    Has a red sign.
    Rapid express trains are almost identical to regular expresses however there are a few choice stations that they skip. However, of the few stations it skips most of them are closer to Osaka such as Kokubu Station and Fuse Station -- the only station in Mie that gets skipped by the kaisoku-kyūkō is Akemeguchi, west of Nabari. Rapid express trains tend to run at the same time as express trains but simply replace them at certain times of the day, particuarly during the morning and evening rush hours. In Mie, rapid express trains only run on the Osaka Line between Ujiyamada and Osaka-Uehommachi; they do not run on the Nagoya Line. Like expresses they are typically six cars and also like expresses they tend to be crowded.
Limited express trains. On the right is the standard all-orange train, on the left is the sleek yellow/white train known as the "Ise-Shima Liner"

Extra-fee Trains

What's important in distinguishing these trains is not the color of the sign, but of the train. The body of the train itself is generally colored orange or yellow, and they are noticeably sleeker in design than the standard trains.

  •  Limited Express  (特急 tokkyū)
    These are the top trains, the ones that always pass you when you are on the standard trains. They tend to go on longer runs than regular express trains, run faster, have reserved seating, and tend to cost about twice that of the standard trains. Their routes often connect the distant endpoints -- such as running all the way between Osaka/Nagoya, Osaka/Kashikojima, Nagoya/Kashikojima, Kyoto/Kashikojima, etc. They are a very pleasant ride, often smoother than the standard trains and noticeably faster, however you must pay more. The figure out how much extra a limited express will cost, there is often a second diagram listing prices at limited express stations. Most rides will cost an extra ¥780 or ¥1280.
    Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be picked up at ticket windows at any Kintetsu station (except unmanned stations, of course). However "advance" can be just one minute before the train arrives at the station. Bigger limited express stops have an automated machine on the platform from which you can buy tickets for the next incoming train so if you know a train is unlikely to be sold out this is a convenient way to pick up tickets. However, you do need a ticket -- if you just get on the train and pick an empty seat you will get caught and will be forced to pay the extra fee. All the seats on the train are reserved so if you do just hop on and pick a free seat, even after the conductor extracts the appropriate fee from you, you may have to give up your seat anyway to somebody who may get on at a later station and has already reserved the seat you picked.

Limited Express Stations

Limited express trains will go barreling through most stations at up to 120 km/hour.

An orange limited express passes through a railroad crossing in Ise

Of the 116 Kintetsu train stations in Mie Prefecture, only 17 are big enough and bad enough for Kintetsu limited express trains to stop there. If you live near one, consider yourself lucky.

Here's the list:

  • Kuwana
  • Kintetsu-Yokkaichi
  • Shiroko
  • Tsu
  • Hisai (sometimes)
  • Ise-Nakagawa
  • Matsusaka
  • Iseshi
  • Ujiyamada
  • Isuzugawa (sometimes)
  • Toba
  • Shima-Isobe
  • Ugata
  • Kashikojima
  • Sakakibara-onsen-guchi (sometimes)
  • Iga-Kambe (sometimes)
  • Nabari
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