questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

reserving seats when using a jr pass

Reserving seats when using a JR Pass

Ok, I looking to go on holiday to Japan and for part of the period I'm over there have a 7-day JR Pass .... but I have a question about making reservations on the Shinkansen.

Does the JR Pass need to be valid if I am making a reservation, i.e. if I arrive in Japan on a Monday but don't want to have my JR Pass to start until Thursday would I be able to go in on, say, the Wednesday and say that I want to make a reservation for the Thursday using this pass which does not start until Thursday?

I.e. the pass isn't valid yet at the time of reservation but will be when the reservation is actually used.


Hi there,

Yes, you are able to make future reservations for travel provided:

  1. You have exchanged your Japan Rail Pass (eg you have converted your exchange order to a physical rail pass)
  2. When you activate your Japan Rail Pass you specify a starting date in the future
  3. The seats you are reserving are for dates during your Japan Rail Pass validity period and you show your Japan Rail Pass to the JR staff when reserving.

People who want to do this often reserve many seats as soon as they exchange their Rail Pass at the Airport. In these cases it helps to have the times and trains you want to use carefully written down or printed out in advance to show the JR staff.

Hope this helps!

Expert button 2

Yes it does :)

Thanks for the information.


If you're traveling with more than two people - I highly recommend just going into the non-reserved cars.

On a recent trip with my wife and daughter, the seats they offered us together where always middle + aisle on the 3 side (most Shinkansen are 2 - 3 configuration except the Green Car)

It's a pain because all the business people want the window, and so the entire trip people are coming and going.

In the non-reserved card, you can just be the first to line up and grab the side with 2 seats or take a whole row.

For all the hub-bub about the reserved cars, I've never had an issue in the non-reserved cars. We did reservations, but you can only reserve the Hikari or Kodama trains (or Sakura if you're in the South) - Nozomi is off-limits.

Most people want the Nozomi because it's super fast, and that's where you'll see huge crowds.

I just got tired of fighting the lines and waiting at the Midori Madoguchi (Customer Service Counter) - it was easier to just flash the pass to the station attendants, go through the gate and not worry about the reservation.

Personal opinion only.


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