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Approach the ticket machines.
The local Iwakuni train station has instructions posted in English beside the machines for your convenience, but these are only at the Iwakuni station, so make sure you understand what to do if you plan to purchase tickets elsewhere.
Examine the destination panel (located directly above the ticket machines) to determine how much yen to insert into the machine. If you look at the closeup of the destination panel and locate Hiroshima (on the left side just above the red line) on it, you can see that there are two numbers above the Japanese word for Hiroshima (which is immediately above the English word Hiroshima): the top, larger, black number is the price in yen per adult traveling, and the smaller number below it in red is the price in yen per child. Children under 5 are free. Examining the closeup image, you can see that the cost for riding the train from the local Iwakuni station to Hiroshima is 740 yen for adults and 370 yen for children (ages 6-12).
Get your yen ready. 1000 Yen notes and change are accepted at all machines, and special machines may be posted that accept larger bills such as the ones in the photo of the ticket machines which take 5000 and 10,000 yen. Do not plan to use 2000 yen notes in machines, because though they may have provided you with some when you exchanged dollar for yen, they are as uncommon as our $2 bill so most machines do not recognize them! For a trip to Hiroshima, you will need 740 yen for each adult, and you can insert a 1000 yen note (or higher if the machine allows it) and the machine will give you change.
Insert enough money to purchase your ticket. The lights will illuminate under buttons on the machine as you insert enough money to cover increasingly higher fares.
Press the button on the left side of the panel that shows how many people you are buying tickets for with the corresponding age groups. The blue stick figures are adults, and the red are children. For example, if you are traveling alone, press just the button with one blue figure on it. If you are purchasing for two adults, press the button with two blue figures on it. If you are buying fare for an adult and a child, press the button with a blue stick figure and a red stick figure on it. Children 5 and under ride free, children 6-12 travel at the child fare, and people 13 and over travel at the adult fare.
Press the price button that corresponds with the price for your destination for a single ticke as stated on the destination board. For example, if you were traveling to Hiroshima, you would press the button with 740 illuminated. The price will be multiplied by the corresponding number of people for the button that you selected in Step 3. Be sure you inserted enough yen to cover the total amount.
Remove your ticket(s) from the slot, and don’t forget your change if you inserted more than the exact amount. If you are traveling round-trip, you will have two tickets, one for the trip to the destination and one for the return trip.
Walk through the gates, either handing your tickets to the attendant to have the correct one stamped, or inserting into the machine to be punched if no attendant is present. The tickets will be given back to you, keep them in case the conductor asks to see them, and you will need to give up your ticket as you exit the train station at your final destination.
Proceed through the gate and place your tickets somewhere handy but safe, so you don’t lose them. Remember, you’re going to need to surrender the ticket when you get to your destination!
Find the track number on the destination board as you walk through the ticket gate, and proceed to the track. There will be a display that switches between English and Japanese. Check the time against the platform display clock, and wait for your train to arrive. Be sure you board the train for your track, because if there are two tracks using the same platform (one on each side, for example) don’t get confused and hop on the wrong one! They are clearly labeled, just be sure to double-check.
As you travel, you will notice signs at every platform or train stop. The signs are labeled in English and Japanese, and depict which stop was the previous one, and which is coming up next, with arrows in those directions. The name of the current stop is larger and centered above the other two, so you will know which stop you are at, and whether yours is coming up next. If in doubt, find the current stop on the map inside the train car, and compare it with your destination (Iwakuni is located to the far left of the map, and the main Hiroshima station is located in the center; realize that this is a crop of the applicable area of the larger whole map, which didn’t quite fit in my camera’s view when I tried to take the picture).
When you arrive at your destination, hand the stamped (or punched) ticket to the attendant (or insert it into the machine if no attendant is present). You will not get your ticket back! Proceed out of the train station and enjoy your adventure! Remember, if you purchased round-trip tickets, keep up with your return ticket.
Retrieved from Iwakuni MCAS.