If you buy tickets of August Shinkansen, we recommend you to read this article and purchase reserved seat tickets online ASAP.
Obon or just Bon is a Japanese Buddhist event to commemorate the spirits of one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
The festival of Obon lasts for four days and its starting date varies within different regions of Japan. However, the most commonly nation-wide celebrated time is around August 15th. These four days are not listed as public holidays but it is customary that people are given leave. The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons, accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates.
Every year exact Obon dates are different. The Obon in 2016 starts on August 13th and ends on August 16th.
Regarding the peak traffic, the busiest days are expected to be around August 11-13th with people leaving the big cities and August 14-16th with people returning to the big cities. Not only between August 11th and 16th but also between August 6th and August 21th would be the busy season for traffic and Shinkansen.
We highly recommend to purchase reserved seat tickets online in advance before they get sold out for that period. If reserved seat tickets get sold out, you can still buy unreserved seat tickets, but you may end up lining up for Shinkansen and standing during your travel.
Japan Railways Group sets their own definition and calendar for peak, regular and off-season. If you are interested, you can read it on the page below.
The Best Time to Travel on Shinkansen: Peak, Regular and Off-season
Regular seats used on Reserved cars and Unreserved cars of Shinkansen. Consider it as "economy class" seat.
Better seats with more space than ordinary seats. All Green Seats are reserved only. Consider it as "business class" seats.
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.
Better seats and free blankets. Popular among Japanese business persons, executives and people who
Know as "First Class" of Shinkansen seats. Only available on Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen lines.
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 http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/ticket/types.html