Translated by Hilary Keyes
Missed Your Last Train? How To Spend The Night Safely In The City
Missing your last train can be frustrating in your own country, but doing it while on vacation, in a place where you might not speak the language can be terrifying. But don't worry - here are some helpful tips to get you through the night in peace.
Written by Shinji Takaramura
It's around midnight, and you have been out with friends enjoying the nightlife in Japan when suddenly, a wave of panic hits you. When does your last train leave? Uh oh.
Most forms of public transportation in Japan do not run all night long - buses tend to finish in most areas by around 23:00, and the majority of trains will have reached their last stop by 01:00 at the very latest.
The hours of the last train are roughly the same on weekdays and weekends, although in areas outside of Tokyo, on smaller train lines, and on national holidays, these hours may differ. Most of the last trains, in fact, will have only traveled part of their route during their final runs of the day.
You might even make it to your nearest station only to find that that particular exit has closed - many smaller exits on train stations in Japan close before the last train, and this can make you miss your last train too if you're not sure where the next closest exit is.
What can you do? Here are some helpful tricks and tips to help you get through the night safe and sound when you miss your last train.
First Step - Check for Alternate Routes
If you notice the time just before midnight, you might not be out of luck! Use the wi-fi and check Google Maps, Jorudan, Tokyo Rail Map (iPhone), JR East (Tokyo area) or Hyperdia (Android) for an alternative train line or route to take - you may not reach your desired station, but you could end up much closer to it than you are at present, which means that you can take a taxi home or to your hotel for a slightly more reasonable price.
Alas, it is after midnight and you aren't able to take an alternate route home. Don't give up hope - there are a couple more options open to you!
Sing the Night Away in a Karaoke Box
Wanting to stay out all night in Japan often leads to many exciting rounds of bar and izakaya visits, but one place that's sure to be included in a full night out is a karaoke box.
Karaoke centers come in different forms, but in general, they have a private booth or room, with sofas and a drink/light meal menu. Nowadays most also have free wi-fi for customers too. A karaoke booth will cost you anywhere from 1500-5000 yen, but this all depends on what type of place you go to and how much you order as well. These are a great option when you are out with friends and miss your train.
Cafes, Restaurants, and Net Cafes Near the Station
If you aren't a big singer or just want some peace and quiet for the rest of the night, then visiting a nearby net cafe might be best for you. Most internet cafes are open 24 hours a day, and the vast majority of them have drink and food service, and some newer ones even have pay-per-use shower facilities too. Look around near the station and you're sure to find at least one.
People who are taking the night bus around Japan know that they may be arriving at their destinations well before most standard businesses are open for the day, so there are a number of facilities near major hubs that are available 24/7. You can get something to drink or eat, or even take a hot shower. If you are stuck near a major station like Tokyo, Shinjuku, Osaka, or Nagoya, then any of the places mentioned in these articles will be a great option for spending the night, or at least part of the night, until your first train in the morning.
Staying at Capsule Hotels
If you're too tired to head back to an izakaya, bar, or club for the rest of the evening, you do have the option of spending the night in a capsule hotel.
A capsule hotel is, as its name indicates, a small, capsule-like sleeping space where you can sleep, charge your phone and usually use a shared shower/bathroom facility. Capsule hotels are often men or women only facilities, but there are some that provide accommodations for both genders, usually with these rooms being divided by floor. Only one person is allowed per capsule - they can be a tight fit if you are taller though.
There are many different types of capsule hotels, some have their own unique themes, others are very simple and have a no-frills approach to accommodations, but most tend to cost in the 2000-5000 yen a night range. In most cases, this is significantly less than that what a taxi ride may cost you for a trip across the city, so they are a reasonable, safe alternative if you are working on a limited budget.
Bonus - Stay in a Love Hotel
If you can't find a capsule hotel but have found yourself in an area full of garishly colored buildings with signs indicating things like "rest time" or "short stay", you're still in luck. Love hotels are another alternative if you are in need of a place to stay for a few hours or overnight, and the prices for the room are indicated clearly on their signs, ranging from about 3500 yen all the way up to 20,000 yen, depending on the room and its facilities.
While mainly designed for couples to have some private time together, love hotels can also be convenient, fun places to spend the night by yourself too. Please note though, not every love hotel will be willing to let a room to an individual, and most will not accept groups in a single room, especially mixed gender groups.
A Bad Idea - Sleeping in Public
While Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, this doesn't mean that there isn't any crime, so please don't sleep in a public place like a park or inside a train station unless you absolutely have to - which, with all of the other options in this article, you really shouldn't!
If you have any problems while in Japan, please take a look at: 14 Japanese Phrases To Use When You Run Into Trouble.
It Doesn't Have to be Scary
Missing your last train overseas can be a really frustrating thing, but in another country where you might not be able to speak the language, it can be pretty scary. But it doesn't have to be! Just keep these tips in mind, and find the easiest and safest means for you to spend the night. Who knows, your misadventure with the trains could end up making for some pretty fun memories of your trip to Japan!
For Your Reference:
Apps and Wi-fi
Places to Stay
Internet Cafes And Luggage Storage Around Tokyo Station
Helpful Spots Around Osaka Station For Night Bus Riders
Helpful Spots Around Nagoya Station For Night Bus Riders
Traveling By Night Bus? Shinjuku Cafes Where You Can Rest And Shower