Shinkansen Ticket Online Booking : Reserve Without the Hassle

The Best Time to Travel on Shinkansen: Peak, Regular and Off-season

There are infamous crazy travel seasons in Japan as shown below, based on official calendar provided by the Shinkansen operator Japan Rail Way (JR).

 

 

 

If you plan on traveling on Shinkansen during peak periods, around national holidays or weekends, we strongly recommend booking "reserved seats" in advance.

It's a standard cultural behavior for Japanese locals to book their transportation a long time in advance to secure seats. Please expect ultra long lines and uncomfortable standing train rides without your reservation! If you would like to travel like local pros, plan and reserve ahead, which our booking specialists can help you with.

If you are still in your planning stage for your travel to Japan, choose off-season or standard period for a relaxing Shinkansen rides. During peak times, tourist destinations and hotels could also be packed.

Please keep it in your mind that the idea of "crowded train" in Japanese people's mind might look like "trains from hell" for you visitors from abroad! It could also be considered a pure crazy cultural entertainment for traveling in Japan, if you are really into that sort of thing.

 

Peak Seasons (Hanbou-ki, 繁忙期)

These are the times Japanese citizens travel like crazy! We recommend riding Shinkansen bullet trains with unreserved seats in peak season if nightmarish wait in line to secure your seats is not your idea of fun! Make sure to buy Shinkansen tickets online from us in advance. JR, the shinkansen operator, publishes official calendar to show you when the trains are crowded. It’s much more difficult and expensive to book hotel rooms too during these periods. Shinkansen tickets are a little more expensive during peak seasons, but we at Shinkansen Ticket online shop do not change ticket prices.

  • Spring break period (March 21 to April 5) Japanese business and school year start in April with cherry blossoms. There’s a spring break between the end and start of the year.
  • Golden Week (April 28 to May 6) The entire country moves during the Golden Week with many national holidays.
  • Summer holiday period (July 21 to August 31) It's vacation time like many other countries. It’s especially busy in mid-August during traditional “Obon” period when people head to home towns away from big cities for spiritual traditional ceremonies. 
  • New Year period (December 25 to January 10) Entire Japan shuts down at the end of the year and during New Year days. It’s a very quiet, spiritual and beautiful winter season of Japan. But the trains are really packed. Everybody heads back to their home town or for vacation by train, air, car and bus. The most crazy peak travel season in Japan.

  

Off-Season Period (Kansan-ki, 閑散期)

Japan Rail Way defines periods below as “off-season.” If you plan on traveling on Shinkansen often, it may be wise to choose off season for your travel, not just to secure your seats, but also for your peace of mind.

  • January 16 to 30
  • Entire February
  • Entire June
  • Entire September
  • Entire November
  • December 1 to 20 

*Fridays, weekends and national holidays are considered Normal Period.

  

Normal Period (Tsujou-ki, 通常期) 

Any period other than peak and off-season is considered Normal Period by Japan Rail Ways.

  

Other Factors to Consider

Time of the day

Shinkasen is generally more crowded in early morning and evening when people move to other cities after work and sightseeing.

The days of the week

Shinkansen is a lot more crowded during weekends and around national holidays.

Seasonal Events for Major Tourist Destinations

For example a lot of Japanese people visit Kyoto in autumn for beautiful red and yellow leaves, and in spring for Sakura. During these times, trains and accommodations are very crowded and hard to book them.

Seat guide

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

Reserved Seat

Your seat is reserved and secured when you book your tickets. Head to the station with a peace of mind.

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 dedicated unreserved cars. 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