Mobile Ticket Basics
The JR East online train ticket reservation system comes in 2 flavors: Japanese only Eki-Net for domestic users and the multi-lingual JR East Train Reservation for inbound visitors. Both of these differently branded services share the same basic system, internet domain name and similar account registration process.
Despite the common backend accounts are not compatible: ticket options, discounts and related services are different for domestic Eki-Net users and inbound tourists. This guide only covers domestic Eki-Net. See the JR East Ticket Reservation intro video by One Good Dream for a good overview of the inbound version, and the JR East Ticket Reservation pages: buying a ticket without using a pass and how to register your IC card.
Welcome to world of Eki-Net
The domestic targeted Eki-Net is a sprawling travel service portal that covers everything from train tickets to package tours and car rentals, far too large and messy to cover here. This guide is limited to setting up and using Shinkansen eTicket and Express Train Ticketless services of the Eki-Net Japanese web site and app, and using them with Apple Pay Suica which gives you the best value with JRE POINT integration.
To understand how and when to use Eki-Net, it’s important to know the basic categories of JR East mobile ticketing:
- JR East Regular Train Lines
- Suica (and compatible Transit IC cards) pays the station to station distance based fare using the Stored Fare balance (SF) of the Suica card.
- Eki-Net Ticketless: are separate online only Limited Express reserve seat tickets (Narita Express, Azusa, Kaiji, Odoriko, etc.) used in combination with Suica to pay basic fare and the reserve seat.
- JR East Shinkansen Lines
- Touch and Go: a ticketless non-reserve Shinkansen option that uses Suica • Transit IC card SF for non-reserved seat travel on JR East Shinkansen lines. It works exactly the same as Suica for regular transit, no discounts but there are JRE POINT transit rewards with Suica which basically gives Suica users a discount. Free pre-registration of the Suica or other transit IC card is required.
- Eki-Net eTicket: a Shinkansen mobile ticket that bundles Shinkansen distance fare + Limited Express seat reservation or unreserved seat in one eTicket attached to a registered Suica or Transit IC card. Suica users also get the benefit of earning JRE POINT rewards, other Transit IC cards do not. Eki-Net eTickets do not use the Suica SF balance but attaching an eTicket to Apple Pay Suica for example, makes for extremely convenient and seamless local train to Shinkansen connections with just iPhone or Apple Watch.
Eki-Net Tokudane discounts
One of the nice things about Eki-Net is that it offers the same discount rates to all Eki-Net users unlike the 2 tiered EX service which has smartEX with small discounts and EX-Press Reserve with large discounts.
Eki-Net discount eTicket and Ticketless are called ‘Tokudane’ and are reserve seat only. Tokudane eTickets are also limited in number for each train and can disappear quickly. During big vacation periods such as New Years, Golden Week and Obon, they are almost always unavailable due to hight demand. The rule of thumb is, the bigger the discount, the faster they disappear. Tokudane Tickeless discounts are limited to reserve seat capacity of the train and are easy to get at the last minute.
Eki-Net • JRE POINT Integration
Eki-Net is highly integrated with the JR East JRE POINT system and just like any ‘mileage club’ out there, ticket purchases come with JRE POINT rewards that can be turned around and used for ticket purchases and Green Car seat upgrades. Basic point rewards are earned with any Eki-Net registered credit card purchase. JR East VIEW CARD purchases earn extra JRE POINT rewards.
Registering and managing an Eki-Net account can only be done via the web site.
The Eki-Net registration YouTube video has a quick visual explanation of the steps:
Steps 3~5 (0:33~0:53) enter email address to receive the registration URL.
Step 6 (1:07) register name, address, phone number, account ID and password.
Step 7 (1:29) register a credit card. Foreign issue credit cards can be registered if 3-D Secure compliant.
Step 8 (1:50) register Mobile Suica or plastic card ID numbers (up to 6).
Step 9 (2:17) sign up or decline Eki-Net promo emails, confirm info and tap register (2:48).
Eki-Net Ticket Purchases
You can either use the Eki-Net website or Eki-Net app to search trains and purchase eTicket and Ticketless train tickets. You can bypass manual login with Eki-Net app that supports Face ID / Touch ID login, download Eki-Net from the Japanese App Store.
It’s helpful to know to know a few basics.
- You can purchase Eki-Net tickets up to one month in advance.
- You can apply to purchase Eki-Net tickets up to month plus one week in advance but there is no guarantee the application will be successful. You will be notified by email the day tickets are available for purchase and application result (success/fail). If successful you have a limited purchase window to complete the purchase.
- eTicket purchases can be cancelled but refunds come with cancellation fees.
Step 1~2 (0:37) enter station points, date, departure time, number of people and tap search.
Step 3 (0:51) select the train.
Step 4~5 (1:05) select the seat type: eTicket non-reserve, Tokudane discount (reserve), Green Car, JRE POINT Green Car upgrade, etc., then select having a seat assigned or select via the seat map. Tokudane availability is indicated by a green banner next to the car number.
Step 6 (1:49) select your credit card, enter security code and purchase you eTicket.
Step 7 (2:27) link eTicket with Apple Pay Suica or other registered IC Transit cards.
Here are screenshots of the steps using Eki-Net iOS app.
Apple Pay Wallet and Suica App do not have any of your mobile ticket information and you do not need to launch an app to use eTickets or Ticketless. Just get on your train.
The only notification you will receive is a reminder email from Eki-Net before departure. Eki-Net app is handy for confirming eTicket seat assignments and attached Transit IC cards, just tap the your ticket to view details.
Your eTicket is linked to the registered Apple Pay Suica, all you do is tap the Shinkansen transit gate and go through as show in the above video using Apple Pay Suica on Apple Watch. Your eTickets are validated online, there is nothing you need to show to the conductor or station staff.
Once you have your Ticketless seat reservation, simply get on assigned train car and take your assigned seat. Conductors already have your seat information and do not check or validate your seat assignment.