HOME 2023 Shinkansen Travel Advisory: Book Your Seats Early for a Stress-Free Journey!
2023 Shinkansen Travel Advisory: Book Your Seats Early for a Stress-Free Journey!

2023 Shinkansen Travel Advisory: Book Your Seats Early for a Stress-Free Journey!

Date published: 27 November 2023

Starting from the end of 2023, all Nozomi trains operating between December 28 and January 4 will exclusively offer reserved seating. This policy aims to enhance comfort and reduce congestion during peak travel times.

Originally announced in September 2023 by JR Central and JR West, this measure will impact travelers using the Nozomi service during Japan's busiest travel periods: Golden Week, Obon, and the New Year holidays.

(Main image: PIXTA)

Table of Contents
  1. Last-Minute Travelers, Beware!
  2. Takeaway: Plan Ahead for a Smooth Ride

Last-Minute Travelers, Beware!

If you haven't reserved a seat on the Nozomi during peak periods, you might find yourself standing or unable to board your desired train.

Standing in the deck area of ordinary cars is possible with an unreserved ticket, however, it's not guaranteed, especially during the congested year-end and New Year period.

Japan Rail Pass holders ought to take notice of this change as well.

While Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen will be unaffected and will continue to offer unreserved seats, travelers can expect trains to be very full during the New Year season from the end of December through the beginning of January.

For this reason, to avoid inconvenience, JR Pass holders are recommended to reserve their seats as well.

Why Book Early?
  • Guaranteed Seating: With Nozomi trains transitioning to all-reserved seating between December 28 and January 4, securing your spot in advance is crucial, especially during the already congested year-end and New Year holidays.
  • Avoid Peak Prices: Ticket prices vary by season. Booking outside the 'busiest periods' can save you up to 400 yen compared to regular prices (details below). So, consider traveling on off-peak days for a more comfortable and economical trip.
  • Multiple Booking Options: Tickets can be purchased one month before your travel date from JR's various online services, station ticket offices, and vending machines. You can also book JR Shinkansen tickets via our service here.
Seasonal Surcharges (Applicable to the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen)
December 24-27
Normal price
December 28
200 yen surcharge
December 29-30
400 yen surcharge
December 31
200 yen surcharge
January 1
Normal price
January 2
200 yen surcharge
January 3-4
400 yen surcharge
January 5
200 yen surcharge
From January 6
Normal price

Takeaway: Plan Ahead for a Smooth Ride

To ensure a comfortable and hassle-free journey on the Shinkansen, especially during the busy year-end and New Year holidays, early reservation is key. Keep in mind the changes to the Nozomi service and choose your travel dates wisely to avoid the rush.

Written by:

Timothy Sullivan

Timothy Sullivan

Timothy Sullivan is a senior English editor who has worked with LIVE JAPAN since 2017. Originally from New York, USA, he has over two decades of experience in Japan and more than 15 years in the digital media sphere. Timothy has played pivotal roles in assisting Japanese enterprises and regional authorities connect with international audiences. When he isn’t traveling, he is helping producing polished copy for LIVE JAPAN, one of Japan’s largest tourism platforms. He received a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/tsulliv. Instagram: @thetimsullivan.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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