As of May 2020, the JR Group will introduce new luggage regulators due to the growing amount of passengers, and reservations will be required for larger pieces of luggage. Learn what your luggage allowance is on the Shinkansen, and Japanese trains in general. Restrictions apply to size, weight and pieces you can bring.
Luggage on the Shinkansen
When boarding the Shinkansen, the following regulations apply:
You may bring up to two pieces of baggage on board free of charge. For each bag the total of the length, width and height must not exceed 250 centimetres, the length must not exceed two meters and the weight must be no more than 30 kilograms.
Luggage pieces less than 160 cm (sum of height x length x width) can be brought aboard without prior reservation. For luggage pieces between 160 cm – 250 centimetres, a prior reservation is required, which can be made for free. In case no reservation is made, then a 1.000yen fine will be charged and your luggage may be moved by the train conductor.
Luggage over 250 centimetres may not be brought on the train and you could consider an alternative for its transport.
How to make a luggage reservation for the Shinkansen?
Reservations can be made for free through the Eki-Net App, at a ticket machine or in person at a ticket window. Using the JR Pass, we suggest making your seat reservations and luggage reservations at the same time.
How to make a seat reservation instruction video by JR Central .
Are luggage reservations free with the Japan Rail Pass?
Yes, as outlined above seat reservations can be made for free. This is both for normal tickets and the Japan Rail Pass. Just be sure to make the reservation before boarding the train.
Baggage on Japanese trains
Luggage regulations on conventional trains in Japan is less strict, the same rule applies as for the Shinkansen but without the need for a reservation. Baggage rules are also not as strictly enforced and a more general rule is, you may bring anything within reason, as long as it does not inconvenience other passengers. This is where we enter the domain of social conventions and unwritten rules.
An unwritten rule is that during rush hour, you should not bring any large items on locals trains. Due to the high volume of commuters it is often even hard to find a place to stand on the train and brining items like suitcases should be avoided unless absolutely needed.
Special luggage rules:
Small animals like dogs, cats, pigeons and similar small animals may be brought on board for a fee as long as they are kept in a carrying case.
Bicycles may be brought for free, given that they are packed in a special bike bag. The total circumference must be less than 250cm.
Wheelchairs that can be brought on board must be no more than 120 centimetres in length/height and no more than 70 centimetres in width.
In case you are carrying a huge luggage piece or don’t want to carry your luggage, then we recommend looking into a luggage forwarding service. Different companies offer forwarding services for a reasonable fee. Such as TA-Q-Bin by Yamamoto transport or SWB from Sagawa transport.