Shinkansen luggage rules have changed! The Shinkansen bullet train connects major cities in Japan and is an indispensable means of travel, with accurate operating times and comfortable rides.
However, travelers with large suitcases may face some challenges! Some luggage is too heavy to lift to the overhead rack, and cannot be left in the aisle. The rear of the carriage may be full, and you may have concerns about leaving your baggage unattended.
Starting from May 20, 2020, JR Tokai, JR West, and JR Kyushu have implemented a pre-reservation service for seats that include space for oversized luggage. Here’s a detailed explanation of the system for first-time users.

What is the Shinkansen luggage pre-reservation system for seats with oversized baggage?

PassionPhotography / Shutterstock.com

The new “seat with an oversized baggage area” service is now available on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines (Tokyo – Shin-Osaka – Hakata – Kagoshima Chuo). When riding the Shinkansen with larger luggage, you can put it in the dedicated storage area near designated seats on both normal and green cars.
Oversized baggage storage can be reserved when making seat reservations at no additional charge. Without advance reservation, an additional 1,000 yen fee will be charged, and bags must be placed wherever instructed by the train crew. The reservation system offers peace of mind and convenience, with your luggage placed near your seat.

What is considered oversized Shinkansen luggage?

The previous standard for allowable luggage was simply a three-side total measurement within 250 cm, weight up to 30 kg, and a maximum of two pieces. The new system classifies luggage with a total length, width, and height of 160 cm to 250 cm as “extra-large luggage” – generally, anything that doesn’t qualify as carry-on baggage on international flights. Be sure to measure your suitcase before traveling to avoid complications when boarding.

Where is oversized luggage stored on the Shinkansen?

*Example image. Actual storage locations may differ. belle’s / Shutterstock.com

The last row of seats in each car and the space behind them are reserved for passengers with large luggage. Please note that suitcases should be stowed in such a way that they do not roll, and that train cars may not all have an identical seating configuration.
Previously, passengers could place their luggage in these spaces or in the areas of the car outside the seating area freely, but that is no longer allowed without permission. With the new reservation system, you don’t have to worry about your luggage being far from your seat, or about the lack of a large storage space.

How to make an extra-large Shinkansen luggage reservation

Option 1: Apply through the online reservation service from your home country
By accessing the English versions of Smart EX, JR-West Onl…

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