Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) FAQ

How to make seat reservations?

Japan Rail Pass holders are entitled to book a seat on all Japan Railways trains free of charge.

All seats should be booked before boarding the train. The JR Group does not allow you to change to a reserved seat once you have boarded the train. Before booking a seat, it is necessary to first have traded the Exchange Order for the JR Pass and selected an activation date.

Here’s how to book a seat:

  • Take your Japan Rail Pass to any JR Ticket Office (at any train station) or go to a Travel Service Center or a Travel Agency ticket sales office. You can also make reservations at the ticketing machines in any train station (available from July 1st, 2020).
  • Once at the ticket office, you will be asked about your destination and preferred departure time. You can also look up the train times in advance, or get help from one of the friendly staff members to find the best option for your trip.
  • You are given your reserved seat ticket, stating departure time, arrival time, train name, car, and seat. For example: Nagoya - Kyoto / 14:19 - 15:11 / Hikari 513, Car 11, Seat 5-B.

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.

When should I reserve a seat?

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

  • April 27 to May 6
  • August 11-20
  • December 28 to January 6

All the dates mentioned above are holiday periods during popular travel seasons. Should you decide to go to Japan during this time of year, make sure you always book your seats in advance.

Green Pass holders are also advised to book a seat in advance to guarantee traveling on a green car, otherwise, they may be relocated to a standard car.

Can I book a seat online or by phone?

Booking a seat over the phone is not possible. However, seat reservations are available online for certain trains at the JR East Train Reservation Service (Ekinet).

Eligible trains include the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo-Kanazawa), Shinkansen, and major limited express trains in the JR East area north of Tokyo, as well as Shinkansen, limited express, and rapid airport trains in the JR Hokkaido area (some exceptions may apply).

Can I book a seat in advance?

Yes, you can book a seat on a JR train up to a month in advance. This means that if you already have your itinerary mapped out, you can make seat reservations for your entire stay in Japan.

Note: Seats can only be booked in person at any Travel Service or a Reservation Office (Midori-no-madoguchi). You will be asked to show your passport and your original Japan Rail Pass.