Riding the Shinkansen in Japan

by Mieke - TripleLights travel specialist

The Shinkansen, or Bullet Train

Riding the Shinkansen in Japan

If there's one train that you should experience while in Japan, it's got to be the Shinkansen. As the fastest train in Japan and one of the fastest in the world, it takes you to your destination in just a flash. Especially for distances around 400/500 kilometres (about the distance between Tokyo and Osaka, for instance), the Shinkansen can be faster and more comfortable than an air plane because you don't have to be there ahead of time and wait for long. Also, you get to see a lot more of the country from the window. Make sure you book a window seat.

 Here's a video showing the Shinkansen Bullet train from the Japan Fan Youtube Channel:

How Can I Book The Shinkansen?

You have to make a reservation if you want to ride the Shinkansen, either on the spot, or in advance. Booking in advance is advisable when you want to travel during Japanese holidays, because all of Japan wants to travel at those dates, so the train is super full. Outside Japanese holidays seat reservations are not mandatory, except for the Hayabusa, Komachi and Hayate trains on the Tohoku line.

Many tourists ride the Shinkansen with a JR pass. Here's everything you need to know about the JR Pass. 

Methods of Booking

  • Ticket Desk Reservations
    You can make seat reservations personally at ticket offices of all major JR stations across Japan. Any shinkansen train can be reserved from any JR ticket office in Japan. There are special Shinkansen desks at some larger stations, but you can also visit the 'Byuu' (びゅう) counters for reservations when you have a Japan Rail Pass.
  • Machine Reservations
    If there are long lines at the counter, machines provide a faster way to book. A few types of ticket machines have English menus as well. Unfortunately, Japan Rail Pass holders cannot use the vending machines for their seat reservations. 
  • Online Reservations
    If you travel in the east of Japan, you can make use of the website of JR East. They operate an English website that allows regular travelers and Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass holders to make seat reservations for the Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen lines, but not for any other shinkansen lines. The other JR companies of Japan also operate websites, but unfortunately only for Japanese residents for now.

Need help navigating during your stay in Japan?

The Shinkansen passes can be quite heavy on the wallet if you are only staying in Japan for a short period of time. If you would rather take public transportation to navigate Japan, I recommend TripleLights as they have 1,000+ tour guides who are skilled and can take you around Japan using public transportation. Having a private tour guide or joining a private tour group can be a gamechanger when attempting to get around Japan because you will not have to deal with getting lost and wasting time trying to get to locations, as well as conveniently have someone who can take you to only the places you want to go to through a custom itinerary. Feel free to send a message to any of the local tour guides in Japan after looking at the large list of tours that they host, and you can immediately start planning efficiently for your trip to Japan. Furthermore, if you are not a fan of public transportation at all and do not want to take the Shinkansen, you can check out the various car tours that are on the website to hire a private vehicle to show you around Japan. Make sure to check out all the cool activities that you can find or do in Japan.

Blogs About Traveling to Japan

Japan Travel - 7 Days Itinerary Around Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka

Cool Things in Tokyo: 2019 Hidden Gems

Tokyo Walking Tours: 8 Great Options for Small Groups

Tokyo Itinerary: Tokyo up to 3 Days - First Timers

 5 Best Day Trips from Tokyo: All You Need to Know

 

Need help planning your trip to Japan ?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Japan, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Japan


Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews

“ Awesome virtual experience ”

Excellent
4 days ago Traveler: MELISSA -   Tour Guide: Richard

For our recent corporate team activity we did Richards virtual traditional Japanese tea ceremony experience. Our team is split across Australia, Japan and Singapore.. Richard did a phenomenal job of making our virtual experience unique that for the 1 hour we were with him it felt like we were all together in the heart of Osaka in this beautiful tea shop! Richard went the extra mile and had all the...
read more

“ Time well spent ”

Excellent
6 days ago Traveler: Ananya -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

Chizuru is an amazing and energetic guide - very familiar with the area, she made sure that I got the most out of both Naoshima and Kurashiki. She's thoughtful and sets the pace according to what suits you, which is perfect. She's well informed and gave me all sorts of interesting nuggets of information which I really appreciated. Would highly recommend you choose to spend your time with her :) T...
read more

“ Visiting Temples was easier with Guide ”

Excellent
1 week ago Traveler: Mercedes -   Tour Guide: Mitsuru(Mark)

I learned a lot about the history and culture of Kamakura. Mark explained all about the different shrines and the meanings. It made the experience of visiting the temples so much easier.
read more

“ Great tour of Chichijima ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: Michael -   Tour Guide: Shunsuke

Shunsuke is friendly and a good guide. He took time to understand what we wanted to see which was really great so we got to see a lot of interesting spots and learn about Ogasawara history, we would really recommend the tour :)
read more

“ Fantastic online tour at Angkor Wat ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: TOMOKO -   Tour Guide: Chansip

Since we were planning to visit Cambodia before this pandemic, we were so happy to find an online tour at Angkor Wat on Triplelights. Our tour guide, Chansip is very kind, pleasant, patient, and knowledgeable. He explained various aspects about Angkor Wat and showed us beautiful sceneries there including many detailed carvings. It was just like a real tour. I really recommend exploring Angkor Wat ...
read more

“ Excellent guide. Well prepared tour. ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Pobparat -   Tour Guide: Hideo

He is so friendly and very knowledgeable about local history and japanese mythology. His itinerary was well preplanned. I would not have been able to explore all the places we did on my own. Thanks Hideo san!
read more

“ Excellent Tour! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Windy -   Tour Guide: Matt

Sorry for my late review. We had a great day taking an online tour with Matt to stroll in the bush in Sydney. I was surprised by the quality of the tour and the view at the cliff was just spectacular! The only thing is that we had 3 young kids in the tour, I wish he could explain things in a more plain language.
read more

“ Amazing day full of a variety of sights ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Nancy -   Tour Guide: Fujiko

My tour with Fujiko-san was fantastic! She is a great guide - friendly, knowledgeable and always making sure her customers are enjoying their tour. She was very flexible when setting the itinerary, taking into account all of the places I wanted to see and my interests, resulting in a large variety of sights throughout the island. She knows a lot about Sado Island and it was so interesting to hear ...
read more

“ Eiichi was a pleasure. ”

Excellent
2 months ago Traveler: Scott -   Tour Guide: Eiichi

Eiichi was very friendly and came well prepared for everything I had communicated to him that I wanted to see and do. His English is excellent and I never felt embarrassed to ask him to repeat or to repeat my questions. I HIGHLY recommend Eiichi to anyone, especially those English speakers, that want a private guide and are interested in Japanese culture.
read more

“ in depth tour of Zojo-ji ”

Excellent
2 months ago Traveler: Prasanna -   Tour Guide: Kazuharu

We were looking for an in-depth understanding of Zojo-ji, and it is not one of the popular spots in Tokyo. Kazuharu prepared and came with lots of notes and tried his best to answer all our questions. He was patient and enthusiastic.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started