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Japan Rail Pass: Green car or ordinary car?

Japan Rail Pass: Green car or ordinary car?

Jan 18th, 2010, 07:04 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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You can do your schedules and pricing here:


Simple answer to your question is about 13,320 yen one way

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Feb 19th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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We found regular cars to be very comfortable, and I'm 6 feet tall and 225 pounds. We couldn't find anyplace to put suitcases, so we just left them in an empty seat space.
Paul1950 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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If there aren't any luggage racks at the ends of the cars then you should put luggage on the overhead rack or behind the seats at the end of the passgenger compartments.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 03:55 PM
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Just came back from a short but sweet 10-day trip to Japan. I had the same question and I read some forums before purchasing the pass and here is my (hindsight) feedback…and that is to go with the ORDINARY CAR!! Here is why: I bought the 7-day unlimited JR pass for the green car thinking that my 6’2 boyfriend could use the extra leg room on the bullet train. Our routes on the bullet train consisted of 4 separate routes: Tokyo to Hiroshima, Hiroshima to Osaka, Osaka to Kyoto, lastly Kyoto to Tokyo. All the routes were direct except the Tokyo to Hiroshima (that route had a train change in Osaka.) Keep in mind that “direct” still means there are multiple stops along the way, since the JR pass was limited to the Hikari lines. The important thing to know is that NOT all the routes have green cars - so do your research!! For us, only 2 routes had green cars, and it was the ones connecting to and from Tokyo. The other ones to and from Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima only had ordinary cars.

The cabin differences that I noticed is that the green cars have fold out foot rest, slightly leg room, and are generally less crowded. However, if you are worried about the leg room on ordinary cars, you should know that the leg rooms on the ordinary cars are similar to that of first class seats on an airplane, if not better. I would say it’s about 2.5 feet or more in front of your seat cushion in the ordinary cars. So if you think paying extra for green cars for the leg room is worth it, it’s not, because the ordinary seats were already very very spacious to begin with. You mostlikely won't even use the addition of just a few more inches on the green car. I didn’t use a measuring tape, but the legroom could very well have been the same for all I know! My 6’2 boyfriend had no problem clearing his knees on the ordinary cars, as a matter of fact; he had his legs stretch out in front of him most of the time. Also, the green car seats did not recline any further than then ordinary seats (they all just reclined slightly; none of them lie flat or come close to it). While the fold out foot rest on the green cars were comfortable, especially if you like your feet elevated a few inches of the ground, but it wasn’t a huge priority for me. I did notice the green cars were generally less crowded (between 5% to 50% occupied) and it did help on our return trip (Kyoto to Tokyo) on Saturday morning because when we went to reserve our seats that morning, all the ordinary spots were taken and we would have had to wait for the next next train (30 mins later, which I don’t think would have been a big deal anyways). But when the attendant realized that we held green passes, we got seats on the next train without a problem (from my count, our green car cabin was, at the most, 50% filled while the ordinary cars looked packed). As for storage space, its best to travel with no more than carry-on luggage sized items. There was ample overhead rack storage for those items. Overhead storage space was the same on both types of cars. But statistically, if you had to travel with huge check-in sized luggage, maybe you should consider green cars because you have a better chance of an emptier cabin and you can just put you luggage at an empty seat – but long distance travel on public transportation with large lugguage on is not reccomeneded)

Over all, if I had to purchase my JR rail pass for the same routes, I would have saved a few bucks and bought the ordinary ones. I would consider buying the green pass only if capacity is an issue (peak travel period with last minutes reservations) or different/longer routes that actaully had green cars available.
eyk is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 07:24 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Posting this while riding the Hikari Shinkansen from Kyoto to Atami. Again, if the price difference makes you balk then the green car is not for you.
Seat measurements are as follows:

Green car
26 inches between seats
Seats are 18 3/4 inches wide
Car seat are 2x2

2nd class car
22 inches between seats
Seats are 16 3/4 inches wide
Car seats are 2x3


Car seats are 2x3
Seats are 16 3/4 inches wide
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 09:21 PM
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Posts: 15,659
Seat pitch in economy on an airplane is typically 31 inches and seat width of 17 inches.

Here is some info from a flyertalker that is similar to info at wikipedia:
"If it matters on a standard Hikari series 300 Shinkansen:
Green cars have 1160mm seat pitch.
Ordinary cars have 1040mm seat pitch.

Green cars have 475mm seat breath.
Ordinary cars have between 430-460mm seat breath."

So if the website that did the conversion for me is correct then the green car has 45.7 inch seat pitch and 18.7 inch wide seats. The ordinary cars would be 40.9 inch seat pitch and 17 to 18 inch wide seats.

The cushions on the seats would be better in the green car.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 09:23 PM
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Hope you are having a wonderful trip, ht.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 10:35 PM
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Hey Bill long time no see. Yes we are having a great time now at Odaru onsen. We were riding a 700 series Shinkansen and that is where I took measurements from. Hope all is going well with you. Returning to Japan anytime soon?

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 04:04 AM
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HT must be measuring from the front of his seat cushion to the back of the next seat. I could not sit down if there were only 22 inches of room as measured in a plane (measured from the back of one seat to the back of the seat behind, the measurements being taken from the same position on each seat).
colduphere is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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Cold, yes the measurement I took was from front of seat cushion to back of seat in front

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 05:13 PM
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My substantial butt much prefers Green Car.
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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Have travelled extensively in Japan on Shinkansen, and, I prefer Green Car.

2 x 2 seating, compared to 2 x 3 seating.
Better seats, and less people in car.

Just like comparing Economy and Business in planes
gearsau is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 09:33 PM
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That comparison is an exaggeration.

Business class on a plane is more like 55 inches seat pitch and 20.5 inch seat width. Compare with 31" by 17" in economy. The green car seat is almost 10 inches shorter and 2 inches narrower.

Domestic first class on a United 757 is 38" by 20,5". An ordinary JR seat would have 3" more seat pitch but 3" narrower. And less cushion. But still a fine seat with very good leg room.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
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The point I was trying to make, is that seating in both classes is completely different. I have done enough travel in Asia to know the difference. Have covered all of Japan during my 5 years there to know the difference between regular car and green car.

You want peace and quiet, take business class in a plane or Green Car in Shinkansen.

Fly UNITED..have done that a few times, and I tell you. Never again,would I fly on any American airline by choice.
Have flown NW from Tokyo to Detroit, three times back in the 90's, and United from Korea to Chicago and return in 2005.
Flew Melbourne to LA and return in 2007.
gearsau is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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But I don't want the peace and quiet and would not shy away from spending the yen for a green car if I thought it was worth it.

Maybe it is worth it, but a rail pass for the ordinary car is such a great bargain and experience (except for one or two short Sanyo shinkansen rides during rush hour on trains that didn't have green cars anyway) that I don't see any reason to for improvement. My only experience in a green car was in Tohoku and the only other passengers in the car were two British soccer hooligans (fans, jolly good chaps). It was during the World Cup. I regretted sitting in that car because it was empty and quiet!

The main reason that I like the ordinary car are the experiences with the Japanese and other travelers. I travel solo, so I enjoy talking with (or otherwise communicating) seatmates that stay a while, or come and go.

Like the time that I had returned to Nagoya station and decided to go to Tokyo Dome for a baseball game. My Japanese seat mate spoke English well and we had a fun and interesting conversation. When we got to Tokyo, the man escorted me to the gate for the train to get to the game.

Once, I had a good conversation with a Brit who was living in Japan. We talked about life in Japan, Japanese women, traveling, two peoples separated by a common language.

I was on a train that made a stop and four ancient Japanese women came aboard in a big fuss. They were all talking excitedly at the same time, stowing their things, claiming seats, and turning one seat bench around so that they could face each other. It was a riot.

On a JR local (no green car) three precious little schoolgirls sat with me while the woman who chaperoned them sat across the aisle. One bold girl asked me "what is your name?" The other two giggled. Next question was "where are you from?". More giggles. The last question was "What do you?".

On another JR local (no green car) I sat with three high school boys and had a hilarious discussion about the brace I had on my wrist. I showed them my meishi, with Japanese translation on back. They were suitably impressed and this enticed more "conversation".

There is more, including the opportunities to just watch the Japanese being Japanese.

The only picture I have of riding in a green car is one of me, sitting alone, with a businesman over there reading a manga and a salaryman over there glued to his cell phone.

YMMV, and your experience or enjoyments may be different, esp. if you are a traveling couple or have lived in Japan.

The comments about UA are OT and better suited to the Air Travel forum where you will find many who agree with you (but no problem ranting about UA on a Japan thread: this is Fodors).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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Yes I guess traveling alone may be a different experience and loneliness usually wants for company. It's pretty obvious from what you write that your bad experience has tainted your taste for traveling in the green car.

We also have had numerous precious moments meeting with people in the green car and many conversations with locals as well as other travelers that will stay with me forever. You make it sound like rich snobs, drunk sports people and trolls are the only people using the green cars. There is one conversation in particular that I had with an older gentleman on the green car in Shikoku that lead to a months trip to Hokkaido for the koyo which ranks as one of the best trips I have ever done.

Even the Sanyo Shinkansen is now starting to add green cars and all will have them soon. Reader should keep in mind that the shinkansens are only a small part of the JR train systems and if you do any extensive train travel in Japan then second class seating on locals and the ltd express trains are smaller and in most cases side facing bench seating as they have on buses.

Like I keep saying, its just a matter of how you like to travel and that seems to be the case here. BTW, I could not find the breadth measurments on the seating on wikipedia so I assume the measurements are from the FT website which imho have good members and then some who always seem to stretch a story but thanks for the info as they do confirm that at 16.92 inches the second class seating on shinkansens more narrow than the seats on UA economy class. Can't imagine how narrow the seats are on the locals, ltd, ltd express and the various other JR trains.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
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