How to Get on Shinkansen – Tickets, Baggage, what to Know

Trips from Tokyo

How to Get on Shinkansen – Tickets, Baggage, what to Know.

Shinkansen is a fast train service connecting different parts of Japan from northern Hokkaido to Kyushu in the south. It has a separate rails from other train rain lines, and Shinkansen is running as fast as 320 km per hour. Which is 198 miles per hour. Shinkansen opened as a first rapid transit system in the world, before the first olympic game in 1964. Even though there are highway buses and airplanes between Tokyo and Osaka, Shinkansen is still the most competitive way to travel especially to Kyoto. It’s a strong advantage that you can get off right in the middle of the city.

As usual, you can enjoy this contents on video format too on Youtube.

How to Get on Shinkansen

Tokaido Shinkansen

JR which is former Japan national railways are split to several different companies, and one in the Tokyo region is JR East, Nagoya is JR Central (which is called JR Tokai in Japanese ) And JR west for Osaka. There are also JR Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. 

Probably the most  major route is Tokaido Shinkansen operated by JR Central. You will take it when you go to Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka. And It directly connect to Sanyo Shinkansen that connects to Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Further from there, There are kyushu shinkansen to Kagoshima. 

To the north, there are shinkansen network going to Kanazawa, Niigata, and futher north to Tohoku and Hokkaido region. Today, I’d like to take the most major route – Tokaido Shinkansen to Kyoto, and show you how to get on the Shinkansen and what the trip would be like. 

So now I’m Tokyo Station and let’s go to Shinkansen gate. 

From Tokyo area, You can get on Tokaido Shinkansen or from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station.

You can get ticket at the ticket machines or at the counter. Some machines are just for the use of credit card. The price changes slightly depends on which train type you get, and which class you want to get. 

3 Types of Trains on Tokaido Shinkansen

First, Tokaido Shinkansen has three types of trains, Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. 


Nozomi is the fastest service, and it stops only major cities such as Nagoya and Kyoto. It runs frequently, and you see Nozomi is leaving to Osaka

Every 5 minutes or more in the morning. Even in the day time, it doesn’t open 10 minuets before the next Nozomi. 

It connects Tokyo to Osaka in exactly 2hours and 30 minutes, and 2 hours and 16 minutes to KYOTO. 


The next one is Hikari. Probably most of international travelers are familiar with this one, because if you have JR Pass, this is the fastest service you can ride without any additional cost. It makes 2 or 3 more stops more than Nozomi. The station Hikari stops is random depends on the timetable, but 2 hours 54 minutes to Osaka, and 2 hours and 40 minutes to Kyoto. So it takes 24 more minutes than Nozomi, but still fast enough. 


Kodama is a local shinkansen train that stops every station. It wait for Nozomi or HIkari pass by at almost every station, but the speed is actually as fast as other types of train because it has to open up rail for Nozomi that runs every frequently. 

Kodama takes about 3:40 min. To Kyoto, and 15min. More to Osaka. 

So there aren’t much reason to be on Kodama to go to Kyoto or Osaka speed wiese, but JR Central offers special discount ticket called Platt Kodama, 

And you can get on Kodama for much cheaper price, and it’s popular because you can get Green Car for cheaper than Nozomi’s regular car. 


3 Classes and Fares for Tokaido Shinkansen

Now that you decided which train to take, you have 3 choice of cars Green Car which is  a 1st class car, and regular reserved seat called SHITEISEKI(指定席), and non-reserved seat which is called JIYUSEKI(自由席).

The most common reserved seat on regular car is 14170 Yen to Kyoto, and 14720 Yen to Osaka. There are some more discount if you purchase online. If you missed the train you got your seat reserved, you can get on the non-reserved seat of the same day.

Non reserved seat is a little more cheaper, and your seat is not decided.  You have to line up at the platform to get seat, but you can GET seat for sure from Tokyo Station, especially if you are taking Nozomi as it runs frequently.  

All trains are 16 cars on Tokaido Shinkansen

All Tokaido Shinkansen train has 16 cars, and Car No.8 to 10 are green car which is a 1st class. 

For Nozomi, Car No.1 to 3 is non reserved car, and For HIkari, Car No. 1 to 5 is non reserved seat. 

For Kodama, 10 out of 16 are non-reserved seat. 

Luggage on Shinkansen

There is a new rule for luggage size on Tokaido Shinkansen. There are no luggage checkin in system on Shinkansen, so somehow you need to keep it with you. But 

From mid 2020, Tokaido Shinkansen started to limit baggage size that you can bring on the train. 

The total dimension of the suitcase has to be smaller than 160 cm , which means you can put up on the shelf above your head. 

In case you have a larger suitcases, you can book the seat with luggage space. You can book these seat without any extra cost.  So I checked with the ticket machine, and there is a way to specifically purchase that seat. 

In case you couldn’t get that seats with luggage space, and get on the Tokaido Shinkansen with large suitcases that can not be put above your head,  there are two things to expect what happens. One thing is, you cannot put your luggage on the back of the seat even if there is space. The space is only for passenger booked the seat right in front of that space. Train conduct wmight charge you 1000 yen and they will take your suitcase to the storage space.  (Since it’s a new rule and even Japanese users hardly know this rule, so it might take some time before they start charging)

Not many Japanese passenger travel with big suitcases, but as the international tourists increase, it might get difficult to get that seat especially on Hikari which JR pass users use. So you might want to make reservation when you know schedule.  You can book online too. (You might want to watch the Youtube video at 5:55 for better explanation)

This new rule is probably for safety of the passenger around, and understandable since I was on the window side by myself before, and the suitcase of the person next to me was occupying my front space. Also, they want you to keep your luggage near you, for security reason. 

Getting on Tokaido Shinkansen

In this trip, I’m using Nozomi to Kyoto in regular reserved seat, and coming back by Kodama Green car so I can show you different types of trains and cars. 

This time, I got my ticket on JR Central’s website called EX which I showed you earlier that you can book the seat for over sized luggage too. Based on the reservation information, I could get the paper ticket. Since Tokaido Shinkansen is operated by JR Central which we call JR Tokai, you cannot receive this paper ticket of online booking service at JR East counters which you see everywhere in Tokyo. In Tokyo, Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station is the only place you can get your paper ticket.

If you are purchasing at the machine, you can buy at any counter or machine in Tokyo even in Shinjuku.

The ticket says your Origin and Destination (The blue line above), Date and Departure Time / Arrival Time (Red line above) and Train No. (Green line above) and your car and seat.

Before Getting on the Train, Make sure to get foods and drinks

Since Shinkansen doesn’t have dining car on train, make sure you purchase before you get on the train. Nozomi and Hikari has wagon service that goes around seats with foods and drinks.

 Now fun part. Let’s get some foods and get on the train. 

At Tokyo Station, you see people are rushing to stores that sells “ekbien”. Which means station meal box. It’s common to get this bento box and eat it on the train. There are tons of selection from all over Japan.  So I get this salmon rice from Hokkaido. The ekiben cost around 1000 yen to 2000 yen, it’s a little pricy but it’s always fun to eat on train. 

Check the platform track number of your train

The plat of Shinkansen is decided when they decide the time table, so you don’t have to wait until it comes up. It seems my train use track No.19. 

Once you find your seat, probably you have your ticket in your hand until you arrive the seat, but make sure you keep that in your wallet or pocket. Unlike airplane, you need a ticket to get out the gate at the destination station. And some people forget the ticket on the train near the seat and get off.

Enjoy the Ride

Now let’s open the lunch box and enjoy the meal as you see the scenery. 

Shinkansen doesn’t have dining car or kitchen anymore, so you need to get things before you get on Shinkansen, but  Nozomi and Hikari,  they also sell drinks and lunch box and snacks at wagon. So I got ice cream and coffee. 

The ice cream and coffee is 600 Yen total.


Platt Koama

Now we arrived Kyoto. Now let’s go back to Tokyo with Kodama. 

This time, I used Kodama’s Green Car. As said before Kodama takes time, but if you are not in a rush, you can buy this ticket called Platt Kodama. This ticket has restriction that you can get only until the day before the train ride, but you can get on green car of Kodama 

For 12100 yen between Tokyo and Kyoto, and 12300 Yen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka.

Green Car

Now let’s see the major difference from regular seat. Green car’s seat is 2 and 2 low, so the seat is wider than regular seats. 

There is a foot rest, and you have reading light. 

Thank yo for reading! I hope you get some idea on what it’s like to be on shinkansen, and help you make decision. 


LINKS related to this article

Official Information about over sized luggage

Smart EX (Online Reservation of Tokaido Shinkansen):

Platt Kodama: JR Tours


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