JR East Freezes Plan to Mothball More Station Ticket Offices; Partly Due to Surging Number of Overseas Visitors to Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Midori-no-madoguchi ticket office is seen at JR Sendai Station in April.

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has paused its plan to slash the number of ticket offices that sell Shinkansen bullet train and other tickets, partly due to the surging number of overseas visitors to Japan, the railway operator has announced.

JR East planned to shut down about 70% of the Midori-no-madoguchi ticket offices by 2025, but customers have complained that these offices often become congested due to the influx of visitors from abroad.

Currently, 209 stations have the ticket offices. JR East said it will reopen some of the shuttered offices during busy periods.

“Online purchases of train tickets haven’t progressed as we had anticipated,” JR East President Yoichi Kise said at a regular press conference Wednesday. “We’ll temporarily pause the closure of any more offices.”

In May 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, JR East announced it would reduce the number of stations with Midori-no-madoguchi offices from about 400 to about 140 to reduce the number of tickets sold at stations and encourage passengers to purchase tickets online.