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How to ride bullet train, Shinkansen

October 01, 2016

How to ride bullet train, Shinkansen

This article tells you how to ride a bullet train/shinkansen in Japan.


A bullet train is different from local trains or limited express trains.

Firstly, the bullet train requires special train tickets.

Secondly, there are platforms only for bullet trains, separated from local/limited express trains.

Thirdly, there are special gates only for bullet trains.



It sounds complicated, but don't worry.

Here are steps to ride a bullet train:

  1. Get a bullet train ticket (You can purchase at this site!)
  2. Go to your departure station
  3. Go to a bullet train gate with your ticket(s)
  4. Enter the gate by putting your ticket(s)
  5. Pick-up your ticket(s) when you go through the gate
  6. Check a platform of your train
  7. Go to a platform
  8. Wait in front of you car number gate
  9. Ride

There are special gates for bullet trains.

Bullet train gate

 You can find them by finding signs to bullet train gates.

Please make sure that you have your ticket(s).


In order to go through the gate,

you have to put your ticket(s) to the gate.

Then, you have to pick the ticket(s) up when you pass through the gate.

(You need your ticket(s) when you get off the train.)


After entering the gate,

find a sign showing departure/arrival trains.

Find your train in order to check a platform.

At a large station, such as Tokyo, there are many platforms for bullet trains.

You have to check which platform your train leaves.

Usually, the sign is located near gates.


Then, go to a platform.

Bullet train platform


On the platform, you can find a car number sign like below.

Bullet train car number sign

Because a bullet train is very long,

it is better to wait in front of the gate of you car number.

For example, Tokaido shinkansen has 16 cars.


Most of the time, you will find a line in front of a gate.

You can just wait there for your train coming.


If your take a bullet train from a starting station, such as Tokyo,

you can usually ride the train 5~10 minutes prior to the departure time.



Seat guide

Shinkansen seats are available in four levels depending on the comfort and services your require.

Ordinary Seat

Regular seats used on Reserved cars and Unreserved cars of Shinkansen. Consider it as "economy class" seat.

Green Seat

Better seats with more space than ordinary seats. All Green Seats are reserved only. Consider it as "business class" seats.

Reserved Seat (Ordinary Reserved Seat)

Your seat is reserved and secured when you book your tickets. Head to the station with a peace of mind.
Seats are the same as Ordinary Seat.

Green Reserved Seat

Better seats and free blankets. Popular among Japanese business persons, executives and people who values comfortable travel. Consider it as "business class" seats.

GranClass Seat

Know as "First Class" of Shinkansen seats. Only available on Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen lines. Gran Class seats comes with airline-like amenities and meals.The most expensive of all.

Unreserved Seat

You can take any open seats in unreserved cars of any train on the departure date. (No departure time will be indicated on your tickets.)
The best seat type if your priority is the cost and are traveling during less-crowded season/time.



For further information and photos, please visit official page at