Japan runs the world’s most efficient and convenient rail service. This speedy and punctual train service is one the most popular ways of seeing Japan. High speed and safety are features of the Japan railway network where 300 km/h Shinkansens (bullet trains) connect Tokyo with Japan’s major cities at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. Long distance trains provide convenient access to all parts of Japan.
Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)
Japan Rail Pass is the easiest and most economical way of travelling all around Japan by train, and is only available to people travelling from abroad who wish to visit Japan as “temporary visitors” for their holiday. As a comparison, the cost of a single Bullet Train journey from Tokyo to Kyoto can cost as much as half the price of a whole week-long JR Pass. You can buy different types of Japan Rail Pass according to your length of travel (7 days, 14 days or 21days) and class of travel. Standard class is called Ordinary Car and 1st Class is referred to as Green Car. You have unlimited travel on all Shinkansen Super Express trains (except Shinkansen “Nozomi”*), all limited-express and all express trains. It also allows unlimited travel on Japan Rail trains, buses and ferries.
During peak season (Christmas & New Year, Golden Week at the end of April to early May and Obon season in mid August) you cannot be guaranteed a seat on a specific train. If you want to secure a seat on a specific train then we can arrange a train ticket instead.
Ordinary Car and Green Car
Ordinary Car relates to the regular seats found on all Shinkansen trains. Although the size and foot space varies between trains, the seats are comfortable with a decent amount of foot space.
Green Car has reserved seat only and tends to be quieter with larger seats that can recline 40°. footrest, wider aisle, more space between the seats, bigger table (with power point plus light) , integrated radio set, travel magazine and space for your luggage. Green Car seats are usually set in rows of 2 x 2 and you will need to make seat reservations for each trip you take. This can usually be done just before you board, except during crowded periods like cherry blossom season and the August Obon travel season, as well as around New Year’s.
Booking and obtaining your JR Pass
The cost of your JR Pass will be included in your tour price and shown under “Price Includes”. We will send you an Exchange Order along with your travel documents. You will take this and your passport to a Japan Rail Pass Exchange office in Japan to receive your JR Pass. It is important to remember that only those who receive the entry status “temporary visitor” stamped in their passports are eligible to obtain the Japan Rail Pass.
The validity period of a Japan Rail Pass is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days beginning on the date the Pass is first used. You must exchange your Exchange Order within 3 months from the date it was issued to obtain your Japan Rail Pass. At that time, you have to specify the date that you want to start using the Pass. It can be any date within one month from the date the PASS is received. Once the Pass has a starting date entered on it, the date cannot be changed.
Can I make a seat reservation?
Once you have exchanged your JR Pass in Japan it is possible to make a seat reservation. There is no charge for this. To make a reservation, apply at any Travel Service Centre (View Plaza) or a reservation office (Midori-no- madoguchi) at a JR station. There, show your PASS, and obtain your reserved-seat ticket before boarding.
There is no restriction on taking luggage on board the Shinkansen (Bullet train). If you only have one suitcase you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. If it’s not much bigger than aircraft “hand-luggage” size, it should fit on the storage rack above the seats. If you can get a seat at the end of the carriage, there is a little space behind the last row of seats where a suitcase will fit. If you have a reserved seat, it’s quite possible that the carriage won’t be too full, and you can fit your suitcase on a spare seat next to you or nearby. If you travel in Green car (First class), there should be space between you and the seat in front for your suitcase to stand on the floor.