Shinkansen is generally the best way to get between prefectures in Japan. Long-distance travel often means long-distance packing. As the number of tourists has grown in recent years, the rules about large luggage on Shinkansen are set to change come May 2020. To ensure a smooth journey, let’s look at the rules and what you’ll need to prepare for.
For a departure date of May 2020, a reservation for the seat with oversized baggage area will be needed when taking baggage that exceeds overall dimensions (length + width + height) of 160 cm, up to a maximum of 250 cm, on Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen. This size is approximately the same as that for which an oversized baggage fee is charged on international flights (it differs by airline companies).
What are seats with oversized baggage area?
The seats of the last row of some cars are seats with an oversized baggage area. Passengers seated in those reserved seats can utilize the space behind them (oversized baggage area) for their oversized baggage. Be aware that non-reserved cars and some reserved cars do not have seats with an oversized baggage area.
Traveling with oversized baggage (From May 2020)
- Reserve a seat with oversized baggage area before boarding. You can reserve a seat with oversized baggage area via the Smart EX or Shinkansen Express Ride app, or at ticket offices in JR stations. If you purchase your ticket at a ticket office, tell the station staff that you have oversized baggage with you.
- Leave the oversized baggage at the oversized baggage area.
What are the benefits for an early reservation?
From May 2020, passengers who are carrying baggage that exceeds overall dimensions (length + width + height) of 160 cm, are required to reserve a seat with an oversized baggage area.
Making your reservation as soon as possible would help secure the nearest space for your baggage. As the reserved space is much closer to the door, it also eases the work of lifting your bulky bag all the way down the corridor.
More importantly, if you bring oversized baggage onto the train without a prior reservation, you will be asked to store it in a space designated by the conductor in order to avoid inconveniencing other passengers, and a carry-on a fee of 1000 yen (tax-in) is charged accordingly. Since the number of seats with oversized baggage area is limited on each train, best prepare yourself or you may have to consider bringing less luggage on your trip.
Bringing baggage with overall dimensions less than 160 cm
If you are having small baggage that the overall dimensions do not exceed 160 cm, no reservation is required. You can fit it on the Shinkansen luggage racks over your head. Baggage with total dimensions of 120 cm or less (e.g. 25 x 40 x 55) can generally be placed by your feet.
Remarks: Passengers can also bring with them sports equipment, recreational goods and musical instruments that are of a length that can be carried onto the train and stood in the car in their bag or case, even if they do exceed the length limit. However, as space would be prioritized to passengers who reserved the seat with oversized baggage area, it is recommended to reserve for your own convenience. Please click here for further details.