Jump to content

Traveling green class between 3/27/16 and 4/3/16 how busy?


Recommended Posts

I'm traveling with another train enthusiast and we will both want window seats. How hard will it be for a japan railway reservations agent process the following request if it is typed and printed out before hand.


Thursday, March 30


Depart Tokyo 8:33 a.m. HINKANSEN HIKARI 505

Arrive Shin-Osaka 11:26 a.m.

Depart Shin Osaka 11:59 a.m. SHINKANSEN SAKURA 555

Arrive Kagoshima-chuo 4:03 p.m.

Depart Kagoshima-Chuo 4:30 p.m. SHINKANSEN SAKURA


Arrive Hakata 6:01 p.m.

2 green class window seats right side.

Link to post

If you wanna see Mount Fuji, windows seats facing north C/D/E depending on what class you are riding.


Between Osaka and Hakata, I would recommend seats A on the left side travelling towards Hakata.  The shinkansen lines run to the north of most of the cities it passes.  So you'll see the city centers, oceans near Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi industrial port areas.


Between Hakata and Kumamoto, seats A also are best to catch a view of the shinkansen yards just south of Hakata.


Between Kumamoto and Kagoshima, the west side is best to view the Yatsushiro Sea, seats D.

Edited by katoftw
Link to post

Oh wow you almost taking shinkansen the whole day! Interesting you arrive Kagoshima Chuo and leave in the next 30 mins...


Regarding seats reservations, katoftw has provided some very valuable information. As for the seat reservation at the Midori-No-Madaguchi itself, if you don't speak Japanese, it's useful to print out little chits of paper written in Japanese to the counter staff to book exactly the tickets you want. An example can be as follows:


新幹線さくら 544, 博多駅から, 神戸駅へ, 0943午前出発, 12:10に到, 二つグリーン車の座席お願い致しま (N700)


I tried this the last trip and it worked perfectly, only when seats are not available. You don't even have to speak a word of Japanese!  :)

Link to post
Guest keio6000

This request will not be hard to fill.   Book at least the hikari a few days in advance to be sure, but honestly i can't see it being a big problem, especially in green cars.


Pro tip: when writing on an international forum, don't use the (mostly) USA-only MM/DD/YYYY date format.  It's best to avoid the slashes all together and just write like this:  Jan 1 2016 or if you write like this: 1.1.2016 it is assumed to be D.M.Y.  As you travel, you will learn more about how useless american non-standards are.


You can expect mount fuji to be clouded over.  If you see it, consider it a bonus.

Edited by keio6000
  • Like 1
Link to post

Thank you for the feedback. I for got about the international format for writing the date. I'll do that. Not sure I'm comfortable doing the Japanese writing though. My handwriting is sloppy in English so not sure what would happen in Japanese.


I intend to have the entire 7 day itinerary printed before leaving home. It will also be on my iPhone. If I show one or two days with of plans to the agent, will they be able to understand this?


Will this be easy to do in Shinjuku station? Or is it better to do at Tokyo station?

Link to post

I did about 75% of my bookings at Shinjuku Station South Exit all in English without an issue for my last trip.  As long as you ask for the seats you want, then they will understand without problems.

Edited by katoftw
Link to post

Thank you Kaftow.


If I understand correctly the seat reservations are on little slips of paper. Do you have a system for keeping track of several of these at the same time? What happens if one gets lost?

Link to post

You get a ticket when you make a reservation.  Put them somewhere safe where you wont lose them.  They are easy to keep track off as they have the date, train, dep and arr time on them.


I forgot to add before.  If you are just rideing the train for the sake of riding the train and the view.  Then get off a Kumamoto and do a u-turn back to Hakata.  Save yourself 120 minutes for something else to do.


Examples for tickets:-



Edited by katoftw
Link to post

I used this system to monitor my planning.


I have the entire planning document in my phone, which I constantly view to keep track of the correct times and dates.


I printed out all my reservation requests n small chits of paper (example above) and sort them according to their dates. For example, my first trip is the sakura, followed by the hikari etc. Then the next day just sort them according to how your would travel on them. Pass the chits of paper to the counter staff according to the dates you have arranged in so that it makes it both easy for the counter staff and yourself, especially when you are making multiple reservations for many days at one go.


I made like reservations for 10 days at Shinjuku station, taking around 20 mins at the counter. It was easy as I had the chits of paper and the counter staff spoke some English and I spoke some Japanese. She got slower at the Kyushu portion as she was unsure of the trains there and had to use the JR timetable guide; understandable since she is a JR East employee.


If you have limited express joyful trains like the Yufuin-no-Mori or Aso-Boy, better to book them I advance as they tend to be sold out very quickly. Also, beware of Sakura especially for Green class. As there are much lesser seats for Green class in the Sakura (only half a carriage), securing them might be more tricky. Worse case be prepared to even use unreserved seats if the train is full.


Plus tip, keep a map of the areas you are going to visit on your phone. I have PDFs maps of JR East, JR West and JR Kyushu which are the areas I was visiting. They help to plan an know which train routes to take especially for commuter/ local trains as you don't have to reserve tickets with them and they tend to be confusing unless you have a map and know where exactly to board and align. It even helps you in directions at the station platforms if you ask JR Staff by pointing to them to the station and the train service you want to go to.

Link to post
bikkuri bahn

Don't expect much in the way of scenery either on the Sanyo Shinkansen or Kyushu Shinkansen, as many stretches are in tunnel.  If you have the time, I would get off at an intermediate station and ride the local trains until the next station that has a shinkansen stop, just to see more trackside scenery and the local passengers getting on and off, which is much more interesting, as is seeing freight trains (on the Sanyo Line).

Link to post

You should have a pretty good chance to have a full beautiful clear day as you pass Mt. Fuji around March 30. But yes, it is still a crap shoot. The earlier in the morning that you pass Mt Fuji, the better the chance of it not being obscured by clouds. For about three New Year's Days, I have taken the first train leaving from Shinjuku to go to the Gotemba Line.  With luck i was able to shoot Fuji without any clouds from Fujioka Station. It's not easy. Seen from Tokyo, a clear Fuji in the early morning (7:00ish) can be covered by clouds a couple of hours later.



Link to post

Thank you, this is great information.


I'll separate reservations request by day so that each page has just one days travel on it.


Looking forward to seeing mt Fuji.

Edited by Steve4031
Link to post

Hello Mr Steve4031,


Please allow me to provide you with further assistance with your shinkansen journey.


Firstly, rest assured that staff in the ticket offices of Tokyo, Shinjuku, and all major JR stations throughout Japan can speak English and are capable of providing you with all the assistance you will need.  It is not necessary to print out your plan in Japanese or English.  If you must print it, I suggest English because both parties will understand.  Place in format of Date, Time, Service Number, Class, Seat Number.  My advice is not to worry about language, but to be patient and deal with your reservations one at a time so as to not confuse staff.  For ease of booking, perhaps always try to book the same seat in the same car, if booking in advance.


Please consider this information on Rail Pass here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html   Note that the ticket office shown towards the bottom is at Tokyo Station, where all staff can assist you in English.


You will find the choice of Green Car Rail Pass exceptional value.  I always travel Green Car.  The only time Green Car is full is during vacation and festival season.  Thankfully you will be travelling between holiday seasons, so you can expect Green Car to be around 1/2 to 3/4 full.  West of Kyoto you will find even fewer passengers in Green Car.  However, if you are making reservation within 48 hours of travel you may find it difficult to get a window seat on services before 9:00am.


Here is general explanation of Shinkansen ticket: reserved_ticket.jpg


Green Car ticket is slightly different.  Here's one I prepared earlier.  I have circled the important word "Green", which is written in Katakana.  Please ensure you have it printed on all your shinkansen and express service tickets: 



Because you are travelling Green Car on Shinkansen, you will be in Car 8, 9, or 10.  The seating layout can be seen here: 

http://www.jr-odekake.net/train/hikari_n700/seat.html Unfortunately, it only shows Cars 1, 3, 7, 10, and 15.  You will need to reserve seat "D" to have a window towards Mt Fuji.


Finally, if you are spending time in Kyushu, please consider a day trip taking 787系Green Car to Nagasaki.  For me, it is my favourite Green Car experience.

  • Like 1
Link to post

If you wanna see Mount Fuji, windows seats facing north C/D/E depending on what class you are riding.


Between Osaka and Hakata, I would recommend seats A on the left side travelling towards Hakata.  The shinkansen lines run to the north of most of the cities it passes.  So you'll see the city centers, oceans near Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi industrial port areas.


Between Hakata and Kumamoto, seats A also are best to catch a view of the shinkansen yards just south of Hakata.


Between Kumamoto and Kagoshima, the west side is best to view the Yatsushiro Sea, seats D.

To see Shinkansen yards, just catch the RailStar that goes down to Hakata-Minami - all cars are unreserved - as I did a couple of days ago. As you have a railpass no ticket needed.


Be aware that the windows on most Shinkansen are not that clean so difficult to get a digicam to focus on the scenery and not dirt on the window. Also you need to play with settings to avoid speed blur (they go a bit fast...).


As part of Japan's drive for electric power saving, airconditioning on all trains is turned down or even off. Noticed that both JRK and JRW are putting film on windows to reduce heating of sun's rays. Makes taking photos difficult again as both similar to dirt, digicam will try to focus on the glass, not through it, and because of the tinting effect and uneven surface.post-265-0-07478100-1432554903_thumb.jpg

Link to post

Normally, as a foreigner, you would get a ticket similar to the ones above, but with station names and some other information like train name written in romaji (latin letters) and English. I have never had any problem booking in advance with Japan Rail Pass. Just write down as you suggested - but use 24 hour clock! You can do the bookings at any JR station.

Link to post

I greatly appreciate all of the detailed information. The seating diagrams and photos of the tickets are very helpful. Hopefully I'll get English ones. But dates and Train numbers would be enough for me to function. It is similar to reservations I used in Europe.


I do intend to go to Nagasaki as well as travel on several other limited express trains using green class. I get the impression that green clas is lightly used on limited express trains. Is this accurate?


My traveling busy is visually impaired and never traveled internationally. I'm primed to try bento boxes for lunch. He will be less adventuresome because it will be harder for him to see the food. What are some of the other food options in stations such as Nagasaki, kochi, or any other off the beaten track station. I'm assuming Shinkansen stations might even have a kfc or McDonald's.

Link to post

That AC issue is going to be a challenge to deal with on trains with big windows on a sunny day.


I've seen videos taken from bullet trains and the windows were not too dirty. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Link to post

If travelling with a visually impaired person, why the requirement for 2 window seats?


I would suggest trialing some Japanese food before you depart.  That way he might find something he'she likes before you depart.


A lot of the McDonald's or western fast food chains are hidden in the bowels of the station buildings.  The McDonald's at Shin-Osaka is 10 minutes of maze from the Shinkansen gates.  Hakata McDonald's is down 3 levels to the lower basement.  And the Kagoshima McDonald's is 4-5 levels down and outside the station gates.  So leading a visually impair person to these locations may become a mission in itself.


Places like Lawsons/7-11/Family Marts etc are all closer located.  For quick lunch options these are better options.  One of my favourite picnic lunch options from these is the Karaage Chicken sandwiches.  350 yen for chicken with a sprinkle of soy sauce on white bread with the crusts cut off.

Edited by katoftw
Link to post

Katowice, he can see well enough to enjoy the view out of the window. We've traveled around the USA quite well. We do ok in penn station in nyc which is the only station that might be line the stations in Japan.


He has harder a time in unfamiliar restaurants and would have a hard time with bento boxes where you look and point.


Your info on the size of stations is helpful. It sounds like 7/11s in japan are more comprehensive in japan then in USA. I appreciate the Info about Lawson's and the chicken place.


I've done google map searches and yep searches and they seem incomplete for what is near the station.


Based on your info I think we may need longer layovers or plan on getting lunch in the morning to take with us.

Link to post

I've done google map searches and yep searches and they seem incomplete for what is near the station.


Based on your info I think we may need longer layovers or plan on getting lunch in the morning to take with us.

Probably the reason why they are incomplete is because the fast food places are inside the station buildings themselves.  But these buildings can be 400 meters (quarter mile for you USA folks) long.  And then some are in underground basements etc.  So google map or google searches rarely show them correctly.


If you allowed yourself 60 minutes layover at the lunchtime places, then I think you'd be fine to move within your own pace to find lunch options.

Link to post

Thanks kaftow. I will rework my plans for to allow 60 minutes for lunch. Really, I would need that myself. Wasn't thinking clearly.


What about smaller statins line Akita and Niigata?

Link to post

Cannot help you out with those stations.  Others should be able to though.  Personally I'd allow 90 minutes layover.  30 mins for lunch, 30 minutes of platform train watching, 30 mins for walking/searching for food + platforms.


Wowzers!!!  You have a whirlwind 7 day trip planned eh?  So far I read Tokyo, Akita, Niigata, Hakata/Kagoshima, Kumamoto/Aso, Osaka, Kochi.  The only time you'll not be on a train is breakfast, lunch and dinner. haha


I know you probably don't wanna read this.  But I think you are spending too much time on Shinkansens.  My personal opinion and this differs greatly to others.  Is that they are there to get you from A to B.  The windows are small and everything moves past too fast and you don't see much.  Commuters and named Limited Expresses is where you see and do more fun stuff.  big windows, slower moving and you see everything.


The Akita leg for example. Tokyo to Akita on a Shinkansen is 4 hours 1 way.  60-90 minutes at Akita, then another 4 hours to return.  Day done almost.  Since you are running a very tight itinerary, I would have a few back up plans just in case you options aren't available.


I'm doubtful for example you'll be able to book the Aso Boy 7 days out.  Hopefully for you, I hope you can.  But if you cannot, I'd suggest riding the Hisatsu Line from Kumamoto to Kagoshima-Chuo on the Kyushu Odan Tokkyu, Isaburo/Shinpei and the Hayato no Kaze.


And if said example happens, then you wont need to use the Shinkansen on the Tokyo-Osaka-Hakata-Kagoshima-Hakata day you had planned.  You can just go as far as Hakata, and enjoy more time on trains around Fukuoka and Kita-Kyushu.

Edited by katoftw
  • Like 2
Link to post
bikkuri bahn

Similar opinion wrt shinkansen trains as katoftw.  Once the novelty wears off, they are best for "positioning" moves, to get you rapidly to a far point to ride or photograph the more elusive trains.  Also, after a long, exhausting summer day riding local trains in the hinterlands, it's always gratifying to hop on a shinkansen to rapidly take you back to your base hotel in the metro area, with lots of legroom to stretch out, enjoy a cold drink, and take a doze.

Link to post

Well guys, I might as well let the cat out of the bag.  And share the whole thing.  My buddy and I are members of a railfan group called on track on line.  Or OTOL.  We due rail fest a few times a year to ace (ride every line)  the transit systems of various cities in north America.  This is a link to their sight. http://www.on-track-on-line.com/forums/index.php?s=81210b946fd70d2b18f27a268fad997b&showforum=89.  This might help you understand our approach.  And it might not . . . smile.  


Here is my first draft.  I know that I am going to have to rework this to provide longer periods for lunch stops.  


Day 1  Saturday March 26
Depart Chicago ORD 10:45 a.m. All Nippon Airways flight 11

Day 2 Sunday March 27 Tokyo Hilton  

Arrive Tokyo NRT 2:00 p.m.

Pick up portable hotspot

Validate rail pass


Depart Narita Terminal 1 Narita Express 3:14 or 3:44 p.m.

Arrive Shinjuku 4:39 o4 5:12 p.m.


Check into hotel


Ride Yanote line 1-hour circle trip above ground around Tokyo. 


RP 1Day 3 Monday  March 28 Tokyo Tokyo Hilton


Depart Tokyo 8:40 a.m.  SHINKANSEN KOMACHI 7

Arrive Akita 12:30 p.m.


Depart Akita 12:58 p.m. LTD. EXP INAHO 10

Arrive Niigata 4:32 p.m.


Depart Niigata 5:22 p.m.  SHINKANSEN MAX TOKI 338

Arrive Tokyo  7:20 p.m.

RP 2 Day 4 Tuesday March 29 Tokyo Hilton


Depart Shinjuku 8:00 a.m. LTD. EXP SUPER AZUSA 5

Arrive Matsumoto 10:38 a.m.


Depart Matsumoto 12:05 p.m. LTD. EXP (WIDE VIEW) SHINANO 7

Arrive Nagano 12: 54 p.m


Depart Nagano 1:15 p.m.  SHINKANSEN HAKUTAKA 561  This is the newest bullet train line.

Arrive KANAZAWA 2:42 p.m.



Arrive Tokyo           6:12 p.m.


RP 3 Day 5 Wednesday March 30 Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk


Depart Tokyo 8:33 a.m. HINKANSEN HIKARI 505

Arrive Shin-Osaka 11:26 a.m.


Depart Shin Osaka 11:59 a.m. SHINKANSEN SAKURA 555

Arrive Kagoshima-chuo 4:03 p.m.


Depart Kagoshima-Chuo 4:30 p.m. SHINKANSEN SAKURA 566

Arrive Hakata 6:01 p.m.


RP 4 Day 6 Thursday  March 31Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk

Depart Hakata 8:56 a.m.  LTD. EXP KAMOME 9

Arrive Nagasaki 10:48 a.m.


Ace the tram system-Nagasaki is famous for trams.


Depart Nagasaki 5:50 p.m.  LTD. EXP KAMOME 40

Arrive Hakata 7:51 p.m.


RP 5 Day 7 Friday April 1 Nagoya Hilton 

Depart Hakata 8:43 a.m.  SHINKANSEN SAKURA 542

Arrive OKAYAMA  10:33 a.m.


Depart OKAYAMA  11:05 a.m.  TD. EXP NANPU 7

Arrive Kochi 1:40  p.m.


Depart Kochi 2:13 p.m.  LTD. EXP NANPU 18

Arrive Okayama 4:41 p.m.


Depart Okayama 4:58 p.m. SHINKANSEN SAKURA 558

Arrive Shin-Osaka 5:42 p.m.


Depart Shin-Osaka 6:16 p.m.  SHINKANSEN HIKARI 532

Arrive Nagoya 7:25 p.m.


RP 6 Day 8 Saturday, April 2 Nagoya 

Depart Nagoya 8:43 a.m.  LTD. EXP (WIDE VIEW) HIDA 3

Arrive Toyama 12:26 p.m.


Depart Toyama 1:02 p.m. LTD. EXP (WIDE VIEW) HIDA 14

Arrive Nagoya 5:02 p.m.


RP 7 Day 9 Sunday  April 3 Nagoya Depart Nagoya 10:42 a.m.

Arrive Shin-Osaka 11:53 a.m.


Depart Shin-Osaka 12:15 p.m

Arrive Osaka ITM 12:40 p.m.


Depart Osaka ITM 2:15 p.m  All Nippon Airways 2178

Arrive Tokyo NRT 3:35 p.m.  


Depart Tokyo NRT 5:10 p.m. All Nippon Airways 114

Arrive Chicago ORD 2:45 p.m.


Again, I want to thank everybody for their input.  I know that I am a bit stubborn about advice (That is you kaftow, lol) but really appreciate all of the advice.  About 90% of the joy of a trip like this is planning the shit out of it and starting off crazy and getting a bit saner.  


The Japanese railfan forum is oustanding.  If any of you come to north america I will be glad to help you plan your trip.  

Edited by Steve4031
Link to post

Wow... That is one whirlwind of a Rail travel. Like katoftw mentioned, the only time you are not on a train is Breakfast & Dinner, sometimes lunch is served on your train seat ~~  :) 


Please allow me to share some of my inputs:


Day 2: Just take note you didn't validate your JR Pass yet, so you need to pay for the NEX ride into Shinjuku and also the 1 hour ride around the Yamanote line.


Day 4: Why not take the Kagayaki instead of the Hakutaka for the return journey to Tokyo? It's much faster ~


Day 5: Just a suggestion, why not align at Hakata and check into the Hotel first from Sakura 555? It's much better and easier to travel around without luggage...


Day 6 : I believe if you're into trams, Hiroshima might be a better place? Hiroshima is taught to be the live museum of trams with both old and new trams running around the city. It's really nice.


Day 8: Why not take another route back from Toyama? Here's a suggestion: Toyama to Kanazawa using the Tsurugi 717, and transfer to the Ltd Express Shirasagi 12 back to Nagoya. Takes a shorter time in 3.5 hours instead of the Hida, and travels another journey for more sights, using a different train (681/ 683 series)  


Hoped that helps!

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...