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Travelling by Shinkansen/Reservations

Numark

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Hey, I am going to Japan this summer for 3 weeks and will have the 21 day JR rail pass. Because of this, I cannot reserve shinkansen seats until I arrive in Japan. Will I have to reserve them right when I get there, or is there usually open seats on shinkansen? How do you go about getting open seats on the spot? (I will be travelling From Tokyo, down through Osaka, making stops at fuji, nara, etc.) I really don't know much about shinkansen travel. So anything you know about reservations, seating, and stops will probably help.
 

MeAndroo

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Most shinkansen have a couple of cars reserved for unreserved passengers, in the front if I remember correctly. If you need any help with the schedule, ask an attendant, but the best way to ensure you get a ticket is to just get there early. Keep your load light, if possible, since shinkansen aren't well known for their cargo space.
 

Bob in Iowa

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There is no need to reserve seats ahead of time. On the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen trains there are five cars for unreserved, some smoking and some non-smoking. You will see signs on the platforms showing the train configurations and markers for the various cars. Just get in a line that forms for the car you wish to board. It is first come first serve, so if the line is already long, just check the schedule for the next train, and if it is not too much of a wait, then let the first train pass and get at the front of the line for the next train.

As, MeAndroo stated, keep your load light because storage is limited. Also, go to the JR website, and you can download schedules for the shinkansen. Please note that your rail pass is not valid for travel on the Nozomi class of service, therefore limit your plans to travel on the Hikari or Kodama. The Nozomi trains are the fastest, in that they stop at fewer stations, and the Hikari is the next fastest. The Kodama stop at all stations. If you are travelling between Osaka and Hakata, there is another type of train called the Hikari Rail Star, and these trains have more space between the seats.

I love travelling by train in Japan. My wife and I were there in February, and travelled from Tokyo to southern Kyushu and back via rail.
 

Iron Chef

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Yeah, the other posters are right. You should have little trouble securing a seat in an unreserved car as long as you que up ahead of time a few minutes early. I always ride in the unreserved and have never had a problem so far. Have a great trip! :cool:
 

BruceHall

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I took a train from Kyoto to Tokyo and reserved a seat an hour before I left, and it was a rush hour. You should be fine. There is a Shinkansen running on that route every ten minutes or so. They are very frequent. Like buses. And have the feeling of buses inside, or at least a well-used airplane. Again, at least the route I am not. I would get a seat because some are full and you may not want to be stuck in a smoking car or between two people since it is a 3-2 seating arrangement. There is not a lot of leg room, says this 6 ft 1 in guy.
 
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I used many times shinkansen between Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo and I always booked reserved seats shortly before taking the train (20 minutes or even 10 minutes) and I always found a place in a no smoking car. I always used the ticket machines: thay have an english menu and they are very easy to use. You can pay both with credit card and cash.
 

kamuizero

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Hey guys! nice post about shinkansen travelling! I have a little question, I'm planning to go to japan next year around february and I'll be arriving in tokyo, I'm taking one normal sized suitcase, not as small as a carry on bag but one you won't take with you into the plane...

My question is, if I want to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya will there be any problems with taking this suitcase? there's no space for luggage in the shinkansen? and if there'd be any problem what other options would be good for me? maybe bus or other kind of train?

Sorry if they were too much U^_^ hehehe I have to do some research before going there =P!

Thanks in advance!
 

ArmandV

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Hey guys! nice post about shinkansen travelling! I have a little question, I'm planning to go to japan next year around february and I'll be arriving in tokyo, I'm taking one normal sized suitcase, not as small as a carry on bag but one you won't take with you into the plane...

My question is, if I want to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya will there be any problems with taking this suitcase? there's no space for luggage in the shinkansen? and if there'd be any problem what other options would be good for me? maybe bus or other kind of train?

Sorry if they were too much U^_^ hehehe I have to do some research before going there =P!

Thanks in advance!

Your "normal-sized" suitcase should be no problem. I have a big roller-type black suitcase (that I call my 2001 Monolith) that I bring and I manage to find a place to put it.

I don't like taking chances, so I reserve my Shinkansen seats in advance. I also smoke, so I make sure I get a seat on a smoking car. You can make your reservations when you trade in your JR Railpass voucher for the pass when you get there. It's easy. Just request your departure times.
 
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Dogen Z

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My question is, if I want to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya will there be any problems with taking this suitcase? there's no space for luggage in the shinkansen? and if there'd be any problem what other options would be good for me? maybe bus or other kind of train?
Thanks in advance!

The best alternative would be to use the baggage delivery service at the airport. It's not expensive (for one bag) and your bag will arrive at your hotel the following day (so you should carry a small bag for overnight necessities). This also beats hauling the luggage around the airport to the train station.
 

kamuizero

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OK thanks a lot guys! Actually the suitcase is maybe a bit bigger than normal sized. But when I board the Shinkansen I'll try to find a place to put it hehe, usually what times are the less-crowded?

I read about the JR rail pass, I didn't know that it existed hehe so I'll try to buy it before going to Japan, I want to visit tokyo, nagoya, osaka, kyoto, and maybe other city, I was planning on travel a whole week or two weeks around japan, if I want to visit more cities with the all-japan JR rail pass will be no problem right?
 

ArmandV

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OK thanks a lot guys! Actually the suitcase is maybe a bit bigger than normal sized. But when I board the Shinkansen I'll try to find a place to put it hehe, usually what times are the less-crowded?

I read about the JR rail pass, I didn't know that it existed hehe so I'll try to buy it before going to Japan, I want to visit tokyo, nagoya, osaka, kyoto, and maybe other city, I was planning on travel a whole week or two weeks around japan, if I want to visit more cities with the all-japan JR rail pass will be no problem right?

Right.

Also, you can't buy the Railpass in Japan, you have to buy the voucher in your home country and trade in the voucher at the JR office in Japan to get the Railpass.
 

spicytuna

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What size is your suitcase?

I used a 110L rolling duffel bag (46x79x36cm) and although I was able to fit it in front of me while riding the shinkansen, I wouldn't want to try that with anything bigger.
 

ArmandV

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There's usually enough space between the wall of the train car and the very last row of seats to squeeze a big suitcase in. That's what I do with my "Monolith."
 
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