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Japan Rail Pass: Green car or ordinary car?

Japan Rail Pass: Green car or ordinary car?

Feb 27th, 2009, 08:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 71
Japan Rail Pass: Green car or ordinary car?

We will be in Japan March 23-30 and plan to buy a Japan Rail Pass. Should we buy a green car pass or ordinary car pass? With schools in Japan on Spring Break, will we have trouble getting reservations on a green car if that is the pass we buy?

Thanks for your input.
Helen_in_Hawaii is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 09:02 PM
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This topic is endlessly discussed on many Japan forums.

The question is, how much do you value your money?
My personal opinion is I find ordinary cars to be just as comfortable, ordinary cars have more leg room then airplane coach, infact it probably has more leg room then what you find on *domestic first class sections on domestic airplanes.

Green cars are smaller in number, the seats are slightly wider, but it all depends on which trains you ride as green cars are designed a little different on trains.
Other places don't have green cars at all so it depends on where you are traveling to.

There are no major holidays happening during that time period you are traveling, so as long as you make reservations a day before departure I don't forsee any major problems. Also if you are at end stations you can use unreserved seating and have a good chance of getting a seat that way if you had no reservations.
tokyosubway is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 09:42 PM
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As tokyosubway says the 2nd class seats are comfortable and just fine.

The choice is a matter of personal preference in how you like to travel. I happen to like the green cars as they are less crowded, more and bigger pillows and blankets, the seats are more spacious and comfortable, usually comes with a free beverage and sometimes snacks, a dedicated lounge area for green car only, etc

Its all up to how you like to travel, like I mentioned before,lol

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 09:57 PM
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There are a few things I noticed about differences between ordinary and green cars.

Green cars, at least on Shinkansens I have taken, seems to be located near the stairs/escalators.

Also getting last minutes seats to sit together was easier on green cars. By last minutes, I mean the very next train. This happened mostly on late afternoon departures

Unlike airplanes, there are minimum differences in comfort .
nickn is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 11:23 PM
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Like I said before all green cars are created different, I don't recall there being a dedicated lounge area for green car only, at least not on the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka at least, nor any free drinks. That service might be provided on other green car trains. Again, they aren't all the same. Trains like the Hikari Rail Star and certain other Shinkansen services in West Japan (ShinOsaka-Hiroshima/Hakata) don't have green cars at all. So it depends on your routing as well.

If you have an ordinary car pass then reservations shouldn't be a problem if you didn't wait until the last minute. Or if you aren't traveling at the peak hours. But if you reserve at least a day a head you should be fine.

Comparing ordinary car on the Shinkansen to say something like coach on an airplane, the Ordinary car is first class!
tokyosubway is offline  
Feb 28th, 2009, 11:17 PM
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Lets see if I recall correctly..... JR Kyushu,JR Hokkaido and most JR East green cars have dedicated green car lounges and all serve one free drink and snack. The JR Kyushu green cars even have leather slippers for every seat which are changed when someone leaves by the dedicated green car attendants. JR Hokkaido also has slippers but they are not leather. You are right about JR West not having green seats on most of their routes, but more are showing up all the time. They all offer newspapers and magazines but I've never seen one in English.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 11:42 PM
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Not much difference between green-car and ordinary cars..
Not worth the extra money.
navnov is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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Is there a difference in luggage space between the cars? I will be travelling in November, but not sure yet whether I would use the luggage shipping services.
speckles is offline  
Apr 20th, 2009, 06:10 AM
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Luggage space is essentially nonexistent on the trains (other than the airport trains). Our carry-on size suitcases would not fit in overhead racks and there were no designated luggage "bins" in the cars. However, there were plenty of empty seats so we just put our suitcases in one of those empty areas.

However, our "carryon" size suitcases were stuffed quite full, so a smaller "non-stuffed" carryon might fit in the overhead.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Hi: we'll arrive in Tokyo during Golden Week (end). As we plan to go to Kyoto, should we buy rail passes here in the US? I've gotten conflicting advice: one person says yes, another says that, since the pass doesn't include the Nozomi, we'll have a hard time using it to go to Kyoto during that week. (And there are more Nozomi trains than the other types.)
Any thoughts would be most appreciated.
Jim0884 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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Whether to buy or not buy rail passes in the U.S.:

For passes like all encompassing JR Pass, you don't have a choice. You cannot buy it (the exchange order) once you get to Japan.

For other passes like JR East Pass, you have an option of buying it once you get there. So study carefully.
nickn is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 11:22 AM
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The person that said yes doesn't know much about Japan. You have to purchase your JR rail pass voucher outside of Japan. They DO NOT sell them in Japan. When in Japan you will activate your voucher and get you pass at the nearest JR station. See site below for details of buying and activating your passes. Also scour this site for all the rail questions you have including the schedules between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Yes you will have a hard time traveling on the trains during Golden Week but you already knew that.



hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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thanks for the help. I wasn't clear though on my initial post: Since the JR pass does not cover Nozomi trains, and because it's golden week, isn't there a good chance we'll have to shell out full price for a Nozomi to Kyoto anyhow (since they are the more frequent train and non-Nozomi will be booked)? Therefore we'll have bought the JR pass for nought. A bit of a gamble...guess I'll just have to flip a coin!
Jim0884 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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Actually most Japanese want the Nozomi. The Hikaris' should be ok, but try and book a reservation as early as you can when you get to Japan.
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 04:58 PM
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Jim, why would you need a JR Pass. You are going from Tokyo to Kyoto. What else? Returning to Tokyo? What else?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 05:07 PM
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mrwunrfl: good point. I think we'll also go to Kamekura but that's not expensive. thanks.
Jim0884 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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The ordinary JR Rail Pass should be fine as there is not much difference.

The odds are both Hikari and Nozomi will be fully booked during Golden Week and that you will have to get a open seat ticket. While this is not ideal it is better than nothing.
JapanRoads is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 05:21 PM
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JapanRoads, we're going to Kyoto near the end of GW (May 5) so maybe we'll have a bit of luck.
Jim0884 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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no luck this year as golden week travel will peak on the 5th and 6th


I'm pulling for you though
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 17th, 2010, 10:42 PM
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If I don't buy a pass...how much is a one way green class from Tokyo to Kyoto?
awinner is offline  

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