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Shinkansense 101: Updates on luggage rules onboard Japan's bullet trains (May 2023)

Shinkansense 101: Updates on luggage rules onboard Japan's bullet trains (May 2023)

Riding the shinkansen (新幹線) between Japan's major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka with luggages? There's a new luggage reservation service in town.


Starting from 24 May 2023, you can now reserve the space in the oversized baggage compartment with no extra charge onboard some reserved cars of the "NOZOMI", "HIKARI", and "KODAMA" services of the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen. 


(Image credit: JR Central)


The oversized baggage compartments are located at the deck at ends of the train cars, and with upper and lower racks. Passengers who wish to use the upper racks of the oversized baggage compartment are recommended to reserve an aisle seat, while passengers who wish to use the lower racks are recommended to reserve a window seat.


The upper rack can be used for baggage with maximum dimensions of 80cm x 60cm x 50cm, while the lower rack can be used for baggage with maximum dimensions of 80cm x 60cm x 40cm.


You will need to use your own contactless IC card such as a transportation IC card to lock your baggage in. Do note that certain IC cards and mobile terminals cannot be used to do this.


In May 2020, Japan introduced a baggage reservation system to allow for a more systematic flow for luggage storage onboard Japan's most popular shinkansen route. Passengers who intend to bring luggages with overall dimensions between 160cm to 250cm onto the Tokaido-Sanyo-Kyushu Shinkansen (Tokyo — Shin Osaka — Kyoto — Hakata — Kagoshima-Chuo) will need to reserve a seat with an oversized baggage area. Failure to do so would result in a ¥1,000 penalty fee per luggage piece onboard each ride. 


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(Image credit: JR Central)


The seats in the oversized baggage area are located at the back row end of each car. Passengers whose luggages exceed the maximum dimensions in the compartment racks will need reserve the seats with an oversized baggage area instead. 


To make a reservation using a JAPAN RAIL PASS or when purchasing your tickets from a JR station ticket office, simply tell the station staff that you would like to reserve a seat with an oversized baggage area or racks.


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Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machine.(Image credit: JR East)


You can also make a reservation via the station's vending machines or online* when purchasing your reserved seat tickets—simply select "Seat with an oversized baggage area". *JAPAN RAIL PASS Reservation, Tokaido Sanyo Kyushu Shinkansen Online Reservation Service, JR-WEST ONLINE TRAIN RESERVATION, JR-KYUSHU Train Reservation


Travelling between Tokyo to the Tohoku area or Shin'etsu area? These luggage rules do not to apply to the Tōhoku Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Jōetsu Shinkansen, or Hokuriku Shinkansen routes.


Shinkansense 101 is an informational series where we share the latest news, features, and tips regarding the Japanese bullet train, or the shinkansen (新幹線)—a marvel of engineering that has made it possible for millions across the years to travel city to city with remarkable ease. 


Header image credit: photoAC


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