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Shinkansen Baggage Rules: Essential Guide for Smooth Travel in Japan

shikansen baggage rules

Here are all Shinkansen baggage rules you need to know about before getting on a Shinkansen in Japan!

Boarding the sleek Shinkansen for a whirlwind Japanese adventure? Don’t get bogged down by baggage worries! This essential guide unpacks Shinkansen luggage rules, ensuring a smooth and stress-free journey through Japan!

Shinkansen Baggage Rules

Key Takeaways

  • The Shinkansen has specific baggage rules that travelers must follow.
  • Oversized luggage requires advance reservation and adherence to onboard placement rules.
  • Familiarizing oneself with Shinkansen luggage regulations is important for a smooth journey.

General Shinkansen Baggage Rules: A Guide

When traveling on the Shinkansen, Japan’s bullet train, it’s important to understand the specific luggage rules to ensure a smooth journey. 

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There are clear restrictions regarding the dimensions and weight of luggage that can be carried on board, and knowing these can help avoid any inconveniences.

Dimensions and Weight Limitations Of Luggage in Shinkansen

Each passenger is allowed to bring up to two pieces of luggage on the Shinkansen. The total dimensions of each piece must not exceed 250 centimeters when adding width, height, and depth, with the weight limit set at a maximum of 30 kilograms per item. 

Luggage must be within these size restrictions to fit into the baggage compartment or the overhead rack. For a quick check, stations are equipped with baggage sizers to measure your luggage.

Types of Luggage Allowed In Shinkansen

The types of luggage permitted on the Shinkansen include suitcases, backpacks, sports equipment, musical instruments, strollers, and wheelchairs. Each should adhere to the luggage rules regarding size and weight. 

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Oversized baggage that exceeds the standard size but are within the allowed dimensions, such as large suitcases or bulky sports equipment, may require a prior reservation to ensure space in the designated oversized luggage area.

Oversized and Excess Luggage Rules In Shinkansen

When traveling on the Shinkansen, luggage exceeding certain dimensions is considered oversized and must be handled accordingly. 

I’ll guide you through the steps to reserve space for your larger items and explain the relevant fees.

How to Reserve Space for Oversized Luggage?

To travel with oversized luggage on the Shinkansen, you’ll need to book a seat reservation that includes space for your large items. 

These items should have total dimensions (height + width + depth) that range between 160 cm and 250 cm. 

To make a reservation, you can visit a ticket counter at the station or use the train operator’s online platform. It is essential to do this in advance as there’s limited space for oversized luggage on each train car.

Fees for Oversized and Excess Luggage

If you’re bringing oversized luggage aboard the Shinkansen, you might be subject to an additional fee. This fee is only waived if you have made a reservation for your luggage in the designated area. 

Failure to reserve space can result in a fee equivalent to the passenger fare and you might be asked to store your luggage in a different compartment altogether.

Shinkansen Boarding and Luggage Handling

When boarding the Shinkansen, it’s crucial to understand the logistics of seat and luggage reservations, where to store your items, and the additional services that facilitate a smooth experience.

Seat and Luggage Reservation Process

In preparation for travel on the Shinkansen, particularly when you’re carrying oversized luggage, reserving a seat is a step you cannot skip. 

For luggage that exceeds 160 cm when adding the height, length, and width dimensions but is below 250 cm, a reservation is mandatory. This can be done up to one month in advance. Passengers with a JR Pass can make seat reservations without extra cost at ticket machines or any JR ticket office. 

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The Tokaido-Sanyo-Kyushu Shinkansen routes often see high demand, so I recommend booking as soon as possible to secure a seat in the last row of reserved cars which is designated for travelers with oversized bags.

Luggage Storage and Access

Shinkansen carriages offer luggage storage in the form of overhead racks suitable for carry-on bags and small personal effects. 

For larger items, if your seat reservation includes baggage space, you’ll find it near the back of your carriage. 

The usual location for oversized baggage is behind the last row of seats, split between upper and lower racks. The storage area in an ordinary car differs from that of a green car, as the latter provides more spacious seating and storage options.

Additional Services and Considerations

If your luggage poses a challenge in terms of mobility, you might explore services like luggage forwarding, typically offered at larger stations such as Shinjuku or those on the Hokuriku Shinkansen route. 

It’s an efficient way to handle luggage without the hassle of carrying it through the train station. Before opting for these services, ensure to check whether the cost aligns with your travel budget. 

Staff members at the train stations are on hand to assist with any questions regarding luggage regulations or boarding procedures with your IC card. 

Remember, for those without a reservation for oversized luggage, a fee will apply, and limited availability might necessitate using alternate arrangements such as local trains without such restrictions.

What is the maximum luggage size permitted on the Shinkansen?

The Shinkansen allows each passenger to bring luggage with total dimensions not exceeding 250 cm. This is the sum of the width, height, and depth of each piece.

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Are there special luggage considerations for Green Car passengers on the Shinkansen?

Green Car passengers, like all others, must adhere to the general luggage rules of the Shinkansen. No additional provisions are made exclusively for Green Car travelers.

How many pieces of luggage can a passenger bring aboard the Shinkansen?

A passenger is typically allowed to bring up to two pieces of oversized luggage on the Shinkansen, provided they meet the size and weight restrictions.

What should travelers do with oversized luggage when traveling on the Shinkansen?

Passengers with oversized luggage must reserve a special seat to accommodate their bags, as unreserved compartments for large suitcases have been phased out on some lines.

Are there any additional fees for bringing luggage on the Shinkansen?

There is no extra cost for luggage that meets the Shinkansen size and weight requirements. However, for oversized luggage, a reservation and possibly a fee may be necessary.

What advice is available for managing luggage efficiently while using the Shinkansen?

To manage luggage efficiently on the Shinkansen, I advise travelers to book space ahead if they anticipate having oversized items, and to pack lightly whenever feasible to streamline their journey.

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