questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

reserving seats before arrival in japan (golden week)

Reserving seats before arrival in Japan (Golden Week)


I know it's not possible to reserve seats from Europe before trading in the exchange order for the Japan Rail Pass. You have however given indications on other posts that a Japanese speaker can make reservations on We have asked a Japanese friend (in Europe) to do this for us, since we are a family of 5 arriving in Tokyo during Golden Week, and our 2nd night is already booked (with difficulty) in Hiroshima.

Our friend tells us it requires an address in Japan, and even then she is not able somehow to make the bookings. She has asked her mother in Osaka to go to a JR ticket office to buy tickets and reserve seats for us, but then we are concerned about getting tickets sent to our 1st night's hotel in Tokyo, having the reservations transferred to our Japan Rail Pass and having both the reservation fee and the tickets refunded.

I would greatly appreciate your guidance on this. I do have to say that for a country that prides itself on its modernity when it comes to trains and electronic wizardry, as well as on its openness to tourism, I find these discriminatory restraints on foreign visitors terribly off-putting.

Thank you in advance for your prompt feedback,


Hi Robert,

It is indeed a known problem and there is unfortunately no simple solution. The best thing to do is indeed to have some one already in Japan buy and reserve the tickets for you, then when you arrive in Japan have the JR Staff re-book them with the JR Pass and ask for a refund for the price already paid.

Something that may be of use is a new internet reservation service provided by JR Called 5489.
This service allows you to reserve tickets over the internet beforehand and allows you to collect the tickets with the right credentials at any JR Train station within Japan. You can find the service here are at the link below. The problem is that the service is only available in the Japanese language as of now but it could take your worry away of having to get the tickets delivered to your Hotel.

Here is the full link:

You can still travel the Shinkansen by non-reserved car if tickets are sold out, this means lining up at the platform where the non-reserved cars stop and you may have to come an hour earlier to secure seats this way in Golden Week. It is far from ideal but still a possibility you can consider

I hope this helps you,

Expert button 2

Is this a legit website? It seems that it would allow reservations before getting to japan... I just reserved my seats. Of course it's JR East only...


Hi there,

Yes you can use it to reserve you tickets.
Its one of the reasons I think that JR East is the most progressive of the JR companies.

Expert button 2

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