There are three train lines in Yamanashi: The Chuo Line, the Minobu Line, and the Fujikyu Line. The Chuo Line connects Yamanashi with Tokyo and Nagano, and the Minobu Line runs south to Shizuoka. The Fujikyu line runs between Otsuki Station and Kawaguchiko Station.
Using the Train System
Before using a train station, please be aware that many stations do not have parking available while others only have paid parking lots nearby.
You can check train times and fares using many sites, including Hyperdia and Jorudan in English. There are also mobile apps available for smartphones and other mobile devices.
There are two types of train stations in Japan: Manned and Unmanned. Most stations in Yamanashi are manned, meaning that they have attendants. You can buy tickets from the ticket machines or ask the worker near the gates. Use this ticket to enter the gate, and when you leave use it to get out. If you need to adjust your fair, look for "Fare Adjustment" machines or ask an attendant.
Keep in mind that you may need to transfer trains. Within Yamanashi, the Chuo and Minobu Lines meet at Kofu Station and the Chuo and Fujikyu Lines meet at Otsuki Station.
Using Unmanned Stations
At unmanned stations, you can simply walk up to the train platform without a ticket. You usually need to line up at the point on the platform marked ウンマン (unman). This will be the only door through which you can enter the train. When you enter, be sure to get a white ticket from the machine to the right. If it is not dispensing tickets, there should be an attendant on the train. You may then purchase a ticket from the attendant.
If you have a white ticket, you will need to go through the attendant lane at the gates when you exit. If you hand them the white ticket, they will tell you how much you owe.
If you are exiting at an unmanned station, you should give your ticket to the conductor when you leave the train. If you have a white ticket, you will need to pay him (fares should be displayed at the front of the train). The machine at the front can provide change, so be sure to get exact change before arriving at your destination.
Limited Express Trains
Limited Express seats require a basic fare as well as an extra express fee. The express fee can be purchased at a ticket machine or attendant, or you can purchase it on the train when the attendant checks tickets.
There are two types of Limited Express tickets: Reserved and Unreserved. Reserved tickets can only be purchased ahead of time, but reserved tickets are less expensive. Each train cabin will be specified as reserved or unreserved and can only be used with the correct tickets. If you are traveling on an unreserved ticket, look for the kanji 自由 (jiyuu) to see which cabins are available for you.
Shinkansen work similarly to Limited Express trains, except that their platforms are through separate gates from other trains. You will have to buy the appropriate Shinkansen tickets at a machine near the gates or reserve a seat in advance.