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Reserve the seat for luggage on Shinkansen beginning May 2020 in Japan

Reserve the seat for luggage on Shinkansen beginning May 2020 in JapanJapan Rail Pass
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Do you know the new luggage rule of Shinkansen coming up in May of 2020?

Passengers who have over-sized luggage must reserve the seat which has the baggage space behind or on the deck.

Except for Shinkansen cars in some lines, there is no luggage space on most of Shinkansen, unfortunately all Shinkansen cars have it on Golden route.

Many foreign tourists don’t know about it, and troubles have been increased between tourists and other passengers.

  • Occupied empty seats with their belongings
  • Blocked aisle with their baggage
  • Passengers couldn’t use a reclining because of suitcases behind the seats

For the temporary measure, the Central Japan Railway Company announced the new rule and will be fined in case you don’t follow the rule.

This is why you should know about luggage regulation to Shinkansen if you travel to Japan.

Reservation for the over-sized luggage

Passengers MUST RESERVE a seat with a *space for over-sized luggage beginning May in 2020, no needed extra fee. You will be charged ¥1,000 fine If you bring over-sized luggage without the reservation.

*In case all seats in the last row unavailable, you can book the special baggage storage on the deck. (you still have to book the space.)

*The seat with luggage space means seats in the last row and you can use the space behind seats.

The Central Japan Railway Company, JR Tokai Line, is the railway company owe Tokaido Line that covers popular sightseeing cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.

All Shinkansen cars of JR Tokai Line don’t have baggage storages so far, and most foreign tourists really don’t know what to do. (The Japanese either!)

Therefore, they use the space in the last row or block the aisle, then other passengers have complained to the company.

The company got concerned about more tourists are visiting Japan for The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so they made up the new rule for temporary measure until the coming the new design of Shinkansen car.

There are 32 seats with the luggage space in the last rows on Shinkansen car, and the company plan to create temporary baggage storages on the deck for the passengers who can’t get seats in the last rows.

Which Shinkansen lines are issued the new rule?

Shinkansen map wikiSouce;The map of Shinkansen/Shinkansen/Wikipedia

  • Tokaido Line (Tokyo – Osaka)
  • Sanyo Line(Osaka-Hakata)
  • Kyusyu Line(Hakata-Kagoshima)

How big is called the over-sized luggage?

How big is called the oversized luggage

The total dimensions ( length, width, and depth ) are over 160 centimeters (62 inches).

This is mostly the same recognition as oversized baggage for *international flights. (depends on airline companies)

How to reserve the seat and the space?

ticket office

You can reserve a seat when you purchase the Shinkansen ticket at the ticket office called “Midori no Madoguchi” (みどりの窓口), travel service centers at stations or using a “smart EX” app.

Once you are at the ticket office, you will be asked the destination and the departure time that you like. Also, you need to tell the staff to reserve the seat with baggage space.

If you are a Japan Rail Pass holder, you have to stop by the ticket office called “Midori no Madoguchi” (みどりの窓口), travel service centers at stations to reserve the seat and baggage space. You need to pay an extra fee to reserve the seat. Japan Rail Pass is not included in the reserving fee for the seat.

Why the company didn’t make baggage space?

When Shinkansen was introduced as the main transportation system for the first time in Japan, the company didn’t expect passengers like international flight users. It was expected as the transportation for business people who wanted to save time for travel between Tokyo and Osaka back and forth.

Major users of Shinkansen were business travelers and domestic short-term tourists at that time, and “Boston bags” were used as typical travel bags in the 60s and ’70s of Japan.

This is the history why Shinkansen cars don’t equip with the big baggage storage.

Finally, JR East company has introduced Shinkansen cars equipped with baggage storages on the deck, in Tohoku, Hokkaido, Jyoetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, AkitaLines.

Types of Shinkansen that are equipped with baggage areas

E2 / E3 / E5 / H5 / E6 / E7 / W7 ( in Tohoku, Hokkaido, Jyoetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita Shinkansen )

  • E2(Each cars except for car10)
  • E3(Car14・15・16)
  • E5/H5(Car2・4・6・8・9)
  • E6(Car13・15・17・11)
  • E7/W7(Car2・4・6・8・10・11)

On the other hand, the Central JR company is going to rebuild the current restrooms to baggage spaces partially by 2023.

The luggage issue Today

overhead shelf on Shinkansen

According to the company, we should put “carry-on bags” on the overhead shelf, or keep it in the legroom. Shouldn’t block the aisle because it is inconvenient to other passengers and the food cart.

Indeed, even among Japanese passengers, they have been discussed where we should hold large-sized luggage.

What the Japanese do today.

  • Ask the passenger who seats in the last row whether he/she doesn’t mind to put the luggage in the space behind the seat.
  • Upgrade the seat on “Green car” to get more legroom and hold luggage in the leg space. (because the Japanse are shorter…)
  • Reserve the seat in the front row or for a wheelchair if it’s available.

Using delivery service

If you can’t get seats with the baggage space, you might want to think about sending luggage to the hotel or next destination by the delivery service company.

It is a not bad option because you can skip any annoying situation, such as reservation for the seat and haul around baggage in crowed, many steps and stairs in Japan.

What I do

My husband and I always send 2~3 large suitcases to the hotel from the airport and bring 1 large suitcase and 2 carry-on bags with us(and each backpack) to Shinkansen.

We reserve the “green car” seats (because he is kind of big ) and I will take the seats in the last row if it is available. But getting seats in the last row is very competitive so that hardly get them.

I ask the passenger if we can put our baggage behind the seat in the last row, and we put up 2 carry-on and backpacks on the overhead shelf.

If we have 2 suitcases, I put one in my legroom( I am tiny) and one in the space in the last row.

Our large suitcases are not over-sized according to JR company’s rule, but they are still big to hold in the legroom.

We talk about the new rule, and we might have to keep suitcases in our legroom or send 3 suitcases every time after May in 2020.

You can also reserve the seat and space even though your baggage is under 160cm (62inches) if you don’t want to keep it in the legroom.

I am sure it causes chaos when the new rule starts, hoping you read this and prepare the travel to Japan!!

Reserve the seat for luggage on Shinkansen beginning May 2020 in Japan

Another New Rule started In July 2020.

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