questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

how to book on day of arrival in the golden week !?

How to book on day of arrival in the Golden Week !?

Somebody help me, please: on May 3 I'll be landing in Narita after a 2 days trip (I'll badly need some sleep). My first hotel is in Nara, on the 3rd, the day of arrival.
I just need to take trains from Narita to Nara...BUT... I CANNOT reserve seats BEFORE exchanging my voucher for the real JR Pass they said.
This... in the middle of the Golden Week !
I've tried everything. Some say I won't make a chance boarding a Shinkansen on that day! Others says I might have to wait a few hours...
What is realistic / not realistic about that?
I am about to by an extra plane ticket Narita - Osaka to solve the problem.
My wife think we should "try" the train and we'll sleep in one of those bulk microtels if the situation becomes hopeless.
How can the Nº1 in efficiency let us "hang" there in such a fiasco?
Has this never ever happened to any visitor before?
What should we do? Fly to Osaka or take a chance with the Shinkansen anyway? (On top of that Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not allowed with the pass which makes the journey evenmore difficult!).
Thanks A LOT for your good advice !


Hello Fabrice,

First don't worry too much about it!

Golden week is indeed busy but you will be able to travel by train from Narita Airport - Nara.

There are two options.

1.) Reserved seats, these are reserved in advance and may be sold out mostly in advance. However Shinkansen can carry over 1,200 seats each there are over 10 trains per hour! So that's a lot of seats to go around! Worst case you may have to wait for a couple of trains or can't seat together.

2.) The other option is to queue up for a non reserved seat. Each trains have a couple of train cars with unreserved seats. Simply make your way to the platform and queue up for the next train. Platforms are clearly marked where the train car with non reserved seats will stop. Not using the Nozomi actually works in your favor as most Japanese travelers will be on these trains.

In other words you may need wait from time to time but I am sure that you can make the trip.

Expert button 2

Arigato so XXL much Daniel-san, I now feel reassured about reaching Nara on that day.


I'm back from Japan (Wow! Fantastic country! Fantastic people!)

Right upon arrival we rushed into the JR office and they got us seats on the first Hikari to Kyoto!
Piece of cake! And we saw some available seats too.
We finally reached Nara about 3 hours before my expectations!
Which was a good thing after 2 days and 2 nights spent travelling without sleeping!
The JR were great.
I however highly recommend some awesome driving: road 168 from Nara to Shingu (very narrow, loads of tight curves and tunnels... not for the faint-hearted I must admit, spectacular road but really dangerous) and the coastal road on the island Kyushy from Miyazaki to the South.
Arigato gozaimasu Danielsan,

Fabrice Noyelle


Hello Fabrice Noyelle!

Awesome! I am glad to hear that you've had such a great time in Japan.

I don't have a lot of driving experience in Japan, so I'll keep your tip for next time!

Thank you!

Expert button 2

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