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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I reserve a seat on the JR trains?

JR Pass holders can book a seat on all Japan Rail trains free of charge. All seat reservations should be done before boarding the train. As per JR Group's policy, once you have boarded the train you may not change your seat reservation.

To reserve your seat, please go to any Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi), located in all Japanese train stations. Alternatively, you can also book your seet at a the ticket counters located in a Travel Service Center or a Travel Agency ticket sales office. The kind Japanese staff will ask for your Japan Rail Pass, which allows you to book seats for free. State your destination and preferred departure time and let the staff member find the best option for your trip.

From February 2017, passengers can make seat reservations online for certain trains at the JR East Train Reservation Service. Eligible trains include the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kanazawa), shinkansen and major limited express trains in the JR East area north of Tokyo, and shinkansen, limited express and rapid airport trains in the JR Hokkaido area (some exceptions may apply).

After arriving in Japan, passengers can collect their seat reservation tickets at their chosen location. These include designated JR East and JR Hokkaido stations and JR travel service centres and information desks, as well as JR West Kanazawa and Toyama stations.

Those who wish to take any of the Limited Express or Shinkansen trains and book a private compartment will be required to pay an extra fee. Traveling in a sleeping car also requires additional payment.

Japan Rail Pass - Am I guaranteed a seat on a JR train?

Available seats are not guaranteed on the busy commuter trains going to and from Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. There are no crowds in the intercity trains so seats tend to be available. However, it is recommended to book a seat before boarding any train during the following high seasons:

April 27th through May 6th

August 11th through 20th

December 28th through January 6th

All of the dates mentioned above refer to the most popular holiday season and peak travel season. Should you decide to go to Japan during the high season, make sure always to book your seats in advance. Learn more about Japanese train stations in our blog.