How to Reserve Seats on the Train in Japan

Reserved Car Seats

Reserved Seats inside a Shinkansen Ordinary Car


Reserving seats serves as a great option for travelers in order to insure the optimal means of commute on Japan's famous railways, especially during the busy travel times during Spring, Fall, and Few Years. Read up on an in-depth guide to the many ways of reserving your train seats in Japan. 


There are a number of seat varieties available in trains in Japan, largely separated into reserved seats and non-reserved seats. As evident by the name, reserved seats are pre-determined for riders. Non-reserved seats are open to riders and are free to taken on a first-come-first-serve basis. Typically, individual cars on the Shinkansen are either fully reserved seats or non-reserved seats and such will be displayed inside each car. Making reservations for seats when using a Japan Rail Pass is free, allowing travelers to save even further. However, for travelers without a Japan Rail Pass, it will cost a bit more to book a seat than for non-reserved free seating. 


Shinkansen Seats

Shinkansen Seats inside the N700 model



Reservations for the Shinkansen can be made one month prior to departure and can be changed once prior to the day and time of departure. It's suggested to confirm all these travel plans well ahead and to have things prepared at least a few days in advance, but also note that reservations for seats can only made with a JR Pass after the voucher exchange and the activation date has been issued. Reservations can be changed for more expensive trips but you’ll have to pay the difference in price. When changing to a less expensive reservation, the difference in amount will be refunded. For reserved seats, unfortunately no refunds can be issued if you miss your reserved Shinkansen train.   


Kiosk Help

Station attendant assisting at a ticket machine


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