How to make a seat reservation with the JR pass

The idea of travelling by train in Japan can be slightly daunting, but we assure you that it is very exciting. There are next to no language issues when travelling on the Japan Rail train network with your Japan Rail pass. As Japan welcomes more and more foreign visitors the level of English spoken by Japanese train staff and people in the hospitality industry in general is vastly improving.

Your Japan Rail pass entitles you to travel on the huge JR network, including most Shinkansen bullet trains. Seat reservations are always free to make and can be done at any JR ticket office (or Midori-no-madoguchi) in most train stations. Alternatively, you can go to a Travel Service Center or a Travel Agency ticket sales office.

At the ticket office you’ll be asked your preferred departure time and destination, and the train staff will help you choose the best route for your trip. They will then hand you a reserved seat ticket like below, identifying the train number, car number and seat number.

You can make seat reservations up to one month in advance so it only makes sense to book seat reservations once you have arrived in Japan and have exchanged your voucher for a JR pass. It’s worth noting that you can reserve some trains online via the JR East Train Reservation Service (Ekinet).