How to: Ride the train for free

Life is hard and money is short.

There are alot of different reasons why someone might want/need to gain access to public transit in Tokyo Japan without paying.  Maybe you lost your wallet during your all night Karaoke bender.  Maybe you’re the victim of one of these mystical pickpockets I keep hearing about when a co-worker is late to work (see Karake bender above). Or maybe, you are trying to save some money and since your company pays for your transportation, well, anyway I am NOT condoning this behaviour in any way shape or form. This is simply an exercise in instructional readiness and all this is purely informational.

  • While approaching the ticket wicket (the one furthest from the ticket counter where the train staff are located) take your cellphone or wallet or card case in your right hand and your briefcase, backpack or gym bag in your left.
  • Picking someone to follow behind  with a back pack or gym bag  is best.  The busier the station the better.
  • Follow closely, about 1-2 feet behind the person in front of you. You will be just a bit closer than normal but not too much or it looks odd and can be obvious.
  • As you enter the ticket wicket bring your bag forward to gently make contact with the bag or coat of the person ahead of you and casually run your useless cellphone  or empty wallet over the scanner. Simply cruise through with the person in front of you as if your card scanned.

The laser system detects a break in mass and thats how it calculates when someone has passed through. Present no such break and you can glide through without incident.

Hypothetically with practice this is very easy to do. It is also very easy to muck up.  If you find yourself with  a ticket wicket gate slamming shut and bells and whistles going off just charge through and on the other side look dumb, confused, and slowly meander over to the ticket counter.  If its busy and nobody is paying attention just walk off and get on your train, if  you’ve been busted however you can either pony up the cash or play dumb and walk back outside to find another means of transport.

Oddly enough, several stations including Shibuya and Ikebukuro have Ticket Wickets that are consistently on the fritz and you can just walk right through as many people do, particularly in Shibuya.  Keep your eyes open to find these.

Remember this is all just informational folks!