In this guide, we’ll go through the process of reserving seats with oversized baggage space on a ticket machine. Such reservations are now mandatory for Shinkansen services covered by the new rules on large luggage that took effect in 2020.
The information presented here is meant to be used in conjunction with my detailed step-by-step guide describing how to use a ticket machine with a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass).
In 2020, new rules governing large luggage were introduced for the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (run by JR Central), the San’yō Shinkansen (run by JR West), and the Kyūshū/Nishi-Kyūshū Shinkansen (run by JR Kyūshū). Passengers bringing oversized baggage are now required to reserve last-row seats with dedicated storage space before boarding.
Reservations can be done at manned ticket counters/offices, through select internet-based channels, or using ticket vending machines. This guide focuses on the ticket machine option.
For more details – including a definition of what counts as “oversized baggage” – please refer to my separate post about the new Shinkansen luggage rules.
Whether you’re paying for tickets by cash/credit card OR reserving them for free with a JR Pass, the procedure as outlined below should be essentially identical. There are major differences at the initial stage of using a ticket machine (different menu choices, extra required steps for pass users, etc.), but the process flow will be about the same by the time you reach the seat selection windows.
If you’re using a JR Pass, please go through my separate ticket machine guide first in order to know what happens before the part outlined here.
Once you’ve selected a specific train – i.e., after completing Steps 8-9 in the ticket machine guide – a notice will appear advising that the service you’ve chosen has “seats with oversized baggage areas”. You won’t see this unless you’re booking a journey on the Tōkaidō, San’yō, or Kyūshū/Nishi-Kyūshū Shinkansen.
Tap “Confirm” (lower right-hand corner of the touch screen) to proceed.
If you’re not travelling with oversized luggage, tap on the “Ordinary seat” button. The process will simply pick up from Step 10 of the ticket machine guide and you can continue on from there.
If you are travelling with oversized luggage – which is our assumption for this present article – tap on the “Seat with oversized baggage area” button.
A screen similar to the one below will appear. If you don’t particularly care which specific car number you’ll sit in, you can either [A] tap one of the buttons in the first row (A-E for the 5-abreast Ordinary Cars, A-D for the 4-abreast Green Cars) to make a general choice of seat position, or [B] tap “Any seats OK” and leave the choice completely to the machine.
However, if you’d like to choose a particular car and particular seat from a floor plan, tap the “Select from seat map” button instead.
Based on seat availability and your chosen class of travel, one or more cars will be available for you to choose from. A black button (like the one beneath Car 6 in the picture below) will appear under each car that can be selected. Tap on the button corresponding to your chosen car.
Vacant/available seats are marked with black buttons. Greyed-out seats are occupied/unavailable. In this case, since you’ve indicated earlier on that you’re booking a seat with oversized luggage space, the machine will only allow you to choose from amongst seats in the last row (whether or not there are vacancies elsewhere in the car).
Tap on the button representing your preferred seat.
Review the details of your reservation on the final confirmation page, and then collect your ticket/s from the printer slot.
Now you’re all set.
If you’re using a JR Pass, bear in mind that you cannot pass through station gates or board trains with seat reservation tickets alone. You’ll need to insert the actual JR Pass card into the turnstiles (remember to retrieve it when it pops up on the other side!) to access the platforms and to exit at the end of your journey.
Safe and happy travels, everyone.
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