Should I Reserve a Seat?

  • Published on : 26/06/2016
  • by : Japan Experience
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Making seat reservations with your JR Pass

Can you make reservations with a JR Pass? When should you make them? Your questions answered. Buy your Japan Rail Pass online today!

Which trains have reserved seats?

All shinkansen have three cars of unreserved seating either at the front or the back of the train, and will be marked as such in both English and Japanese. The rest of the cars are reserved seating only, with conductors stopping by to check your ticket.

Limited express trains also have unreserved cars, although the number varies depending on the line (ranging from one to three). 



©chester adams, unsplash

Do i need a reservation?

Your Japan Rail Pass entitles you to free seat reservations on all trains that are valid with your rail pass. 

If you are making a reservation with a rail pass, only you (the passholder) can do this, and it must be done once you are in Japan. After activating your rail pass, take it to any JR ticket office and present your pass to make a free reservation. You can do this as far in advance as you would like/is possible, or even just before you plan to get on a train. 

Reservation Shinkansen

Reservation Shinkansen

©Tzuhsun Hsu,CC BY-SA 2.0,

Trains where you don't need a reservation

Trains that are just called "express" are different from a Limited Express, and most likely have only unreserved seating.

These are commuter trains that skip over some of the smaller stations, rather than trains that travel long distances.

Some examples include the "JR Rapid Express" that carries students and workers between Osaka and Kyoto cities in Kansai, or Tokyo and Yokohama cities in Kanto.

You do not need to make reservations for express trains, although you may find that these are very crowded during peak rush hours.

Japan Train

Japan Train

©liam-burnett-blue, unsplash

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