Taking the shinkansen “bullet train” is the fastest, most comfortable, and most exciting way to travel through Japan. If you have a Japan Rail Pass it can also be very economical. Almost all shinkansen trains are covered by the Japan Rail Pass, except the two fastest trains: the Nozomi on the Tokaido line, and the Mizuho on the Sanyo line.
If you travel to or from Osaka on the shinkansen then you will pass through Shin-Osaka Station. This is the only station in Osaka that is connected to the shinkansen network and it is the common terminus of two shinkansen lines: the Tokaido line and the Sanyo line. The Tokaido connects Osaka with Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo in the east, and the Sanyo connects Osaka with Fukuoka in Kyushu.
You can find out more about these lines in our two articles on the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Sanyo Shinkansen. And for more information about Shin-Osaka Station please see our article: Shin-Osaka Station Facilities & Transfers. In this article we are going to look at the details of purchasing shinkansen tickets.
How to Buy Shinkansen Tickets
At Shin-Osaka Station you can find shinkansen ticket machines and ticket offices beside all the shinkansen ticket gates.
When buying your tickets you will need to decide on your seat preferences. There are two classes of carriage on shinkansen trains: Ordinary and Green Cars. The seats on Ordinary Cars are comfortable enough, but the seats on Green Cars are larger and offer a little more comfort, quiet and leg-room. Naturally, tickets for the Green Cars are more expensive and must be reserved in advance. Also, when purchasing a Japan Rail Pass, you must choose between an Ordinary Pass or a Green Pass.
For ordinary tickets both non-reserved (自由席 – jiyu seki) and reserved seats (指定席 – shitei seki) are available in different carriages. The reserved seats will cost you a little extra. However, during busy periods (particularly national holidays) the non-reserved carriages do fill up, so it may be worth making a reservation to avoid the risk of standing throughout the journey.
To summarize, when buying your tickets you will need to offer the following information:
- The number of travelers.
- The departure station and destination.
- The date and time of travel.
- One-way or return.
- Preferences: Ordinary or Green Car, Reserved or Non-reserved, Smoking or Non-smoking.
For more details on buying tickets please check the JR Central website.
When you purchase your tickets you will receive three cards. One is your basic fare ticket (乗車券 – joshaken). You can use this ticket to pass through regular JR ticket gates. Another is your super express ticket (特急券 – tokkyuken). You will need both your basic fare ticket and super express ticket to pass through the shinkansen gates. And the third card may look like a ticket, but it is actually just a receipt. You can see a pictorial English guide to these tickets on the JR Central website. Be sure to keep all your tickets safely so you can show them to the conductor on the train.
The Japan Rail Pass can be used for all shinkansen trains except the Nozomi and Mizuho. This pass is recommended if you intend to do much long distance travel in Japan as it offers significant savings. This pass is only available to foreign tourists and must be bought before you come to Japan.
Platt Kodama offers a discount ticket of 10,300 yen on the Kodama shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. This is the slowest of the shinkansen train types on the Tokaido route and takes about 4 hours to cover the distance because it stops at all stations. The Platt Kodama discount ticket must be booked at least one day in advance at JR Tokai Tours offices. Check the official website for details.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.