Do you want to plan ahead and reserve Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train) tickets before you come to Japan? Yes, that’s possible but there are some restrictions you need to know in advanced not to waste your time and money. If you can clear the following 3 restrictions, you should be able to buy Shinkansen ticket with no problem. Oh, by the way, did you know that tickets are different between East side of Japan and West side of Japan?
Check Point #1: Is your travel date within the range described below?
JR EAST (as of April 2019)
Reservations can be made from one month before your travel date up until 11:40p.m. (23:40, Japan Standard Time) 3 days prior to your travel date.
JR WEST (as of April 2019)
Reservations are accepted up to one month (same day of preceding month) in advance of departure, beginning at 10:00 am (JST). If there is no same day in the preceding month, reservations will be accepted from 10:00 am on the first day of the departure month.
If YES, continue to Check Point #2.
If NO, wait until one month before your travel date if your travel date is more than a month later in the future. Or you can use a special service such as Voyagin.com for buying Shinkansen tickets where there isn’t such restriction of one month. Go to Other Option (Recommendation) section at the bottom of this page for more details.
If your travel date is within the next 3 days, tickets can be purchased at JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) or at Travel Service Centers (View Plaza) ticket service counter.
Check Point #2: Do you have a credit card?
If YES, continue to Check Point #3.
If NO, you will have to buy offline at JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) or at Travel Service Centers (View Plaza) ticket service counter to pay with cash.
Even using online site, you have an option of paying cash when you pick up your ticket. However, to be able to use online site, you will need your credit card.
Check Point #3: Will you be able to pick up your ticket at least one day prior to your traveling date?
If YES, continue to Purchase Shinkansen Tickets In Advance section.
If NO, tickets can be purchased at JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) or at Travel Service Centers (View Plaza) ticket service counter.
But actually this restriction seems to be only for JR EAST. At least I didn’t see such restriction for JR WEST.
“Please collect your tickets before 9:00 p.m. (21:00, Japan Standard Time) of the day before you ride the train. You cannot get your tickets on the day you ride the train.” <JR EAST>
Purchase Shinkansen Tickets In Advance
Good! Now you have made successfully to this step, it means you can buy Shinkansen ticket in advanced before you come to Japan.
Go to this page to make reservation
Here is step by step instructions for making reservation.
Reminder!!! For JR East you have to pick up your ticket at least 9pm of one day prior to your departure day. You cannot pick up your ticket on the same day!!!
Here’s information of where you can pick up your reserved tickets.
Other Option (Recommendation)
Buying Shinkansen ticket isn’t that user friendly. There is an option to use website like Voyagin.com. There are several benefits for using this type of site to buy Shinkansen tickets.
- Your tickets can be delivered to any hotel in Japan with a concierge service on your arrival day so you don’t have to pick it up yourself.
- You can buy tickets more than 1 month in advance.
- Site’s user interface looks a lot more user friendly than JR sites so it will make your life easier.
The site is available in English as well. It’s actually a site where you can buy different kinds of tickets such as attraction tickets, local tours, etc. and Shinkansen tickets are one of them.
Hope this was helpful! If you have any question, or if any part of my explanation was unclear, feel free to write a comment below! I would love to improve my blog based on your feedback!