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Tips for Using the Shinkansen

Shinkansen Bullet Train 502
Tips for Using the Shinkansen
For Ordinary Seats in Shinkansen, there are usually 5 seats in a row. In rare cases, it is possible to have 4 or 6 seats in a row. Seats are not only accompanied with a collapsible tray table and luggage rack, but it can also be reclined. Newer Shinkansen cabins usually have installed outlets by the seat or on the armrest. 

For Green Car Seats, there are 4 seats in a row. In addition to extra space in the seats, Green Car Seats usually have a leg rest, reading lamp, outlet, and seat heater, depending on the specific carrier. All seats can be rotated 180 degree for staff to adjust to the new direction at the terminal.

Signs and announcements are delivered in both Japanese and English, but for some cases Korean and Chinese are also available. Some Shinkansens have vending machines, pay phones, and mobile carts selling snacks, beverage, and meal box. As of now, only the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station) provide Wifi service, which has to be purchased in advance. However, most Shinkansen will provide free Wifi starting 2020. All the Shinkansens have public bathrooms, and some even have gender separated restroom and accessible restroom.

According to Shinkansen policy as of 2022, each passenger can bring two luggages, not including small bags.  Each luggage may not exceed 30 Kg, and the sum of the length, width, and depth may not exceed 250 cm.  Even if your luggage meets the criteria for a carry-on, for a comfortable ride, we still recommend checking in your luggage if you are carrying many pieces of luggage.  Overhead luggage storage is spacious and is suitable for small to medium size luggage.  Additionally, you may keep a luggage by your leg if you do not mind. 

Starting in May 2020, Tokaido/Sanyo/Kyushu Shinkansen will implement a new restriction that a large luggage, with the sum of length, width, and depth exceeding 160 cm, will incur a 1000 Yen fee for extra storage space.  Important to note, large luggage is not eligible for carry-on for non-reserved seat.  So if you are carrying a large luggage during your ride to any of the above Shinkansen, please book a reserved seat plus extra storage space.  For Shinkansens other than Tokaido/Sanyo/Kyushu, there is no such restriction on large luggage until further notice.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

  • How far in advance can I purchase a Shinkansen ticket?
    Tickets can be purchased one month before your travel date (regulation by JR), and we will ship your tickets on the day we purchase your tickets.
  • Are there any child fares?
    For reserved seats, child fare for children ages 6 to 11 are available.

    If you have children under 5 years old who need their reserved seat, then please purchase the "CHILD (6-11 years old)" seat for him/her.
    You do not need to purchase a ticket for children 5 years old or under if they will be seated on your lap for the whole train ride.

    For unreserved seats, children under the age of 5 can travel free of charge.
  • I lost my Shinkansen ticket. Can my ticket be reissued?
    No, we cannot reissue tickets, even at JR if you have lost your ticket. It is your responsibility to keep your tickets safe. Any problems that occur after the delivery is made is the responsibility of the customer.
  • Which station can I use my Shinkansen ticket to/from?
    If your ticket's origin/destination is "City Zone", your Shinkansen tickets include local train rides within the big cities before or after riding the Shinkansen on the same date.

    The "City Zones" are valid to Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kita-Kyusyu, and Fukuoka.

    For example, you can start using your Shinkansen ticket from any stations in central Tokyo, like Shibuya or Shinjuku, and use the local JR train to go to the Tokyo station. Then you can ride the Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka station, and switch to the local JR train to any station within the central Osaka area.
  • Are there non-smoking seats?
    Yes, we reserve seats in non-smoking cars as many trains have non-smoking cars only.
  • How can I be seated if I am in a wheelchair?
    There is a seat designed for wheelchairs in some of the cabins of the Shinkansen and some Express trains. The actual seat can be removed for a wheelchair to be parked and the one regular seat next to it is also booked for that person. You can either be seated in the wheelchair for the whole ride or can be seated in the regular seat. The price will be the same as the regular reserved seats.

    There are no seats designed for wheelchairs in green reserved, so please book with the regular reserved. Please leave a note in the comment field that you request a seat for a wheelchair when you place the order so we can arrange your seats accordingly ahead of time.
  • Can I bring luggage on Shinkansen? If so, how many?
    Yes, there are spaces available above your seats where you can put small to medium-sized items (such as carry-on luggage and coats). However, please remember that spaces are limited, especially during busier times. There is no charge for taking luggage onto the Shinkansen.

    To be specific, each passenger can bring up to 2 pieces of luggage weighing less than 30kg and is shorter than 250 cm, and length should not be more than 200cm.

    Depending on the cabin, there may be designated spaces to put bigger luggage. If you will have bigger luggage to bring on board, please request the seats in the last row upon placing your order.
  • Can I eat on the Shinkansen? Is there a meal service?
    Yes, you can both eat and drink in the Shinkansen. Shinkansen tickets do not include meal services. There are onboard sales in the Shinkansen, but the selection is very limited.

    It is recommended that you buy food and drinks at the departure station beforehand, where there is a larger selection of bento boxes and other food and drinks.
  • Where does the Shinkansen go?
    The nine Shinkansen lines all go in different directions around Japan. From Tokyo to south of the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connects the capital with Osaka. The Sanyo Shinkansen line connects Osaka with Fukuoka and the Kyushu Shinkansen line runs north to south through the island of Kyushu.
  • Is there food available on the Shinkansen?
    Some Shinkansen trains are served with small food carts with a selection of snacks, drinks, and boxed meals (bento), which periodically pass along the aisle. There are also vending machines available on some trains with drinks.
  • Are there toilets on the Shinkansen bullet train?
    Yes, most of the Shinkansen trains have three choices (marked in Japanese and English):
    1) "Western Style"- sit down toilets (also ones for the handicapped)
    2) "Japanese Style" toilets
    3) Urinals for men
  • Is there WiFi on the Shinkansen?
    At the end of 2019, free WiFi will be available on all 2,096 cars of the 131 trains.

    Free access to WLANs (Wireless local area networks) will soon be available on the Tokaido Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Osaka. Since the Sanyo Shinkansen line from Osaka to Fukuoka is connected, it will most likely provide WiFi access. In addition, in the waiting rooms of all 17 stations along the Tokaido Line free WiFi access will be offered.
  • Can I drink alcohol on the Shinkansen?
    Yes, you may drink alcohol on the Shinkansen and long-distance "rapid" trains in Japan. You will often see businessmen enjoying a can of beer on their journey home at the end of the workday. Drinking is not allowed on local trains and transportations and it is best to avoid strong odor foods like kimchi or curry.
  • Is bento available for purchase on the Shinkansen?
    The ekiben is a bento, Japanese lunch box that can be bought at the Shinkansen station. It is available for purchase in shops at the terminal or even on the platform.
  • Can I take a bicycle on board the train?
    Only folding bicycles can be carried on board. Please put it in a specific bag before taking on board.
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