The Shinkansen (sometimes called “bullet trains” in English) in Japan are simply amazing. Running since 1964, these high-speed trains are built to operate at a maximum of 200mph, which can cut your travel time from one part of Japan to another by hours.
It was recently announced that the rules for riding a Shinkansen when you have luggage will be changing, effective May 2020.
Tourism in Japan is increasing, and that’s expected to happen exponentially with the Olympics occurring there this summer. With more tourists with more baggage, the Central Japan Railway Company has developed a new system intended for passengers carrying oversized luggage.
If you have a piece of luggage that has overall dimensions (H x W x D) of more than 160cm (roughly 62″) but no more than 250cm (about 98″), your bag will be considered “oversized” and you’ll need to make a reservation for a seat in the cabin(s) with special “oversized baggage” storage area(s).
The seats you’ll need to reserve are the last row of the cars with these specialized storage areas. That way, you’ll be able to store your luggage and sit right in front of it. These areas are also closest to the exits, so it’ll be easier and faster to gather your stuff and leave the train when you get to your stop.
Advanced reservations are strongly recommended; if you buy a ticket at the station without a reservation, you’ll need to pay a 1,000 yen (roughly $10) oversized baggage fee, as well as leave your bag where the conductor tells you…which may or may not be near your seat.
Bags less than 160cm can be placed in the overhead baggage rack of the bullet train, the same as always.
Go to this page of Central Japan Railway Company’s website for more info, including a FAQ.
If it helps at all, KAYAK has a very nice app that can measure your bag using augmented reality. Take a look.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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Great info! We’re (still) planning to go to Japan early May and planned to use The Shinkansen to get from one city to the next. I wasn’t exactly sure how the larger luggage thing worked on the train but this is very helpful! We’ll wait to order our Rail Pass with enough time to have it setup before we arrive in Osaka.
Would be nice if the Shinkansen would get a luggage rack similar to those on the NEx or Mu Sky, but I do wonder how much it would be utilized in an average day even with all the vacation travellers.
Japanese trains with luggage racks like the Myu Sky are airport express trains. The Shinkansen is a regular train overwhelmingly full of business folks and domestic travelers carrying just a brief case, small backpack or tiny wheeled luggage. One bag travelers have it easier here, as they do elsewhere.