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Shinkansen (Japan bullet train) reservation question

Shinkansen (Japan bullet train) reservation question

Old Mar 28th, 2005, 06:45 PM
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Shinkansen (Japan bullet train) reservation question

American airfare US-Nagoya is too cheap for not to go, so I just a pair of tickets. I've been to Japan airports many times (stopover), so basically I'm a complete noob here. If you don't have a seat reservation on a shinkansen, can you take a seat if the train is not full even though you have a ticket? I'm planning to buy JR pass, but for a ew days I will w/o a pass so I need to buy some individual tickets. Thanks!
Old Mar 29th, 2005, 02:04 AM
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Yes, in non-reserved sections of the train. On Hikari and Kodama, there are always far more unreserved seats than reserved, and getting a seat isn't a problem most of the time - the only time when it can be difficult is when most Japanese travel, such as the Golden Week, Obon and New Year. Even then, on (relatively) slower trains, you can usually find somewhere, even if the seats aren't quite together when travel in a group.
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Old Mar 29th, 2005, 10:48 PM
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Just make sure that you get in line in the unreserved section. (I cannot remember where, but you will be able to distinguish the unreserved from the reserved section.

The Shinkansen trains arrive very punctually. As soon as the last train has left on "your" platform, get in line right away. The Japanese abide by these lines.

We realized now that we could have gone with unreserved seats, thus saving all the trouble to go to the JTB (Japanese Tourist Board) to make the reservation.
We know better now.....

Good luck in Japan. We came back in November from an 11-day trip and it was awesome!
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 06:39 AM
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Wow. I always considered (and still do) that free seat reservations with the JR Pass was a great thing. At 500 yen, it is worth it, to me, to pay for the res. seat

You don't have to go to the JTB to get seat reservations. You can get them at the ticket office. Better yet, you can go to the Reservation Office (midori no madoguchi). There is (often/always?) a separate line just for seat reservations. At Nagoya station, I remember that there were people in the ticket line but nobody in line to get seat reservations. I think I am remembering this correctly. It was quite convenient and sure beats having to get to the platform way in advance of your train to try (and maybe fail) to get a seat in a non-reserved car.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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Just want to make clear: with a JR Pass you don't pay extra for a reserved seat. I was just saying that if I did have to pay that I think it would be worth it. You can get seat reservations in advance, so you could make one stop and get seats for several trains on different days. If nothing else, the res seat coupon is good because it shows the track number, departure and arrival times, etc. of the train you will be taking.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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And I will add that I wholeheartedly believe in seat reservations. Two weeks ago we went to the JR office at Narita to get reservations for a shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto for a wk. later (w/JR passes). We were unable to get the 1st 3 trains we wanted, trains completely booked. We ended up getting reservations on a train much earlier in the day. But I was glad we got those reservations, because when we got to the station the train was packed and people were standing in the unreserved cars for a long trip. From now on I will get seat reservations for the popular routes on the online eki reservation system (30 days in advance) before we leave the U.S.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 07:15 AM
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Hi EMD, I'm really enjoying reading about your trip. What is the system that you can make reservations on in advance? I'm thinking I may try to make a reservation for my first trip from Nagoya to Kyoto. And, even if I don't have a reservation, I should still be able to get a seat right? When you say the trains were full, that was just full in terms of reserved seats, right? Not the entire train?

Thanks for your guidance. I look forward to more of your reports, especially Hakone . . . I'm curious what your experience was like there.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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No, the train was completely full, no seats and people were standing in the nonreserved cars. We were told it was because we were going to Kyoto in spring on a Sat. But Nagoya is on the way to Kyoto, so the shinkansen could be very full by time it gets to Nagoya w/people who got on in Tokyo or Shin-Yokohama, etc. I suppose there are also local express trains btwn. Nagoya and Kyoto that would be easier without a reservation? There were local exp. trains like that btwn. Kyoto and Osaka.

I did not get to Hakone. The day we were to go, it was rainy, and we opted for a last day in Tokyo. Next time...

I'm having fun doing the report, it is like reliving the trip.

http://www.world.eki-net.com/ is the site. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance. I have not used this yet but will in the future.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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I also think it is worth having a reserved seat as one can never tell when the train will be full. My father has traveled to Japan many times and is nearly fluent in japanese related an incident he experienced on the shinkansen.

A western woman boarded, all the seats were taken and she did not understand why she could not be given a seat. The conductor who spoke limited english was doing his best to explain she merely had a pass but no seat reservation. As the aurgument escalated the woman started becoming very loud and extremely nasty in her language, refusing to back down.

At that point my dad politely explained the ticket system and asked that she tone her language down. At my dads final destination he got off the train and the conductor bowed to him in gratitude and held his bow until my father reached the very end of the long platform and walked down the stairs.
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