Different types of Shinkansen Cars 新幹線車の種類

JR West

JR West Shinkansen Bullet Train


The Shinkansen bullet train is one of the most popular ways of traveling across Japan and hosts a number of types of cars with varying features that cater to travelers of all needs.

The Shinkansen is inherently a more elevated form of rail travel, so these amenities are still a cut above the features found on the more standard lines found throughout the country. These include things such as electrical outlets for charging devices such as phones and computers, overhead storage for luggage and other belongings, a coat hook for hanging outerwear, reversible chairs to be used by travelers that can be arranged in a way to face other members in the traveling party, and a number of other features that may vary by train. 

Since Shinkansen trains are intended for longer, more extensive travel, they naturally come with more plush chairs and additional leg room compared to local trains to accommodate this.

Ordinary Car

Interior of the Ordinary Car on the W7 Series Shinkansen


but with additional luxuries such as extra leg space, storage space, a reading light, complimentary snacks and drinks (depending on the line), and a more luxurious seat.

This seat boasts a more plush headrest and a deeper recline. The inside is often divided into 2x2 seating or 2x1 depending on the train. 

These added luxuries do add to the price, of course, and while pricing varies depending on which Shinkansen and a number of other factors, one can typically see an up-charge of around 30% from the base price. 

Green Cars are not only limited to the Shinkansen, however, as express trains such as the Narita Express and even some local trains have Green Cars, though the amenities vary by train variety.

Green Car

Interior of the Green Car on the N700 Series Shinkansen


Note that these exclusive cars are only available on a select number of Shinkansen, namely the Tohoku, Hokkaido, and Hokuriku Shinkansens.

Naturally, the Gran Class Cars are often the most expensive option when riding the Shinkansen. For example, without a JR Pass, a Gran Class seat from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido will cost around 40,000 yen, while the Green option costs around 32,000 yen, and a standard reserved seat will be at a price of around 23,000 yen.

This increase in price may be worth the price to travelers who plan to go on longer trips, such as ones from Tokyo to Hokkaido or Tokyo to Kyushu, where one is likely to want to be as comfortable as possible during transit.

Gran Class Interior

Interior of the luxurious Gran Class Car on the E7 Model Shinkansen


Genbi Shink

Interior of one of the Genbi Shinkansen Cars that ran through Niigata Prefecture


For these travelers, it is required to book a seat next to the oversized luggage area, so be wary of this before deciding to board a Shinkansen train with intentions to use one of the non-reserved Ordinary Cars. If one intends to ride the more luxurious cars, they will require a reservation regardless, so just notify the office representative of your oversized baggage or designated such when reserving seats at the ticket kiosk. More information on oversized luggage reservations can be found here. For further information on train seat reservations, check out the article here.

Access with the JR Pass

The popular Japan Rail Pass is a specialized ticket that allows for unlimited rides on JR Train Lines, the only exception being the Nozomi Shinkansen and Mizuho Shinkansen, which will require a supplementary fee. A standard JR Pass allows travelers to board the Ordinary Cars freely and also to make reservations on those same cars at no additional cost. However, if a traveler wishes to upgrade to a Green or Gran Class Car, they need to reserve seats on these cars prior to boarding and pay an additional fee, which differs depending on the destination. Additionally, a Green JR Pass is available for purchase that allows full access to Green Cars on each Shinkansen, but as usual, one will need to reserve these seats prior to boarding.

Dimensions for luggage on the Shinkansen bullet train

Items NOT considered as oversized for the Shinkansen bullet train

Buy your Japan Rail Pass now and enjoy unlimited rides on Shinkansen!

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